Part 4 out of 8
[* See Notes and Explanations.]
".... The power of the Soviets is not democratic power, but a
dictatorship-and not the dictatorship of the proletariat, but
_against_ the proletariat. All those who have felt or know how to
feel revolutionary enthusiasm must join now for the defence of the
"The problem of the day is not only to render harmless irresponsible
demagogues, but to fight against the counter-revolution.... If rumours
are true that certain generals in the provinces are attempting to
profit by events in order to march on Petrograd with other designs,
it is only one more proof that we must establish a solid base of
democratic government. Otherwise, troubles with the Right will
follow troubles from the Left....
"The garrison of Petrograd cannot remain indifferent when citizens
buying the _Golos Soldata_ and newsboys selling the _Rabotchaya
Gazeta_ are arrested in the streets....
"The hour of resolutions has passed.... Let those who have no longer
faith in the Revolution retire.... To establish a united power, we
must again restore the prestige of the Revolution....
"Let us swear that either the Revolution shall be saved-or we shall
The hall rose, cheering, with kindling eyes. There was not a single
proletarian anywhere in sight....
"We must remain calm, and not act until public opinion is firmly
grouped in support of the Committee for Salvation-then we can pass
from the defensive to action!"
The _Vikzhel_ representative announced that his organisation was
taking the initiative in forming the new Government, and its
delegates were now discussing the matter with Smolny.... Followed a
hot discussion: were the Bolsheviki to be admitted to the new
Government? Martov pleaded for their admission; after all, he said,
they represented an important political party. Opinions were very
much divided upon this, the right wing Mensheviki and Socialist
Revolutionaries, as well as the Populist Socialists, the
Cooperatives and the bourgeois elements being bitterly against....
"They have betrayed Russia," one speaker said. "They have started
civil war and opened the front to the Germans. The Bolsheviki must
be mercilessly crushed...."
Skobeliev was in favor of excluding both the Bolsheviki and the
We got into conversation with a young Socialist Revolutionary, who
had walked out of the Democratic Conference to gether with the
Bolsheviki, that night when Tseretelli and the "compromisers" forced
Coalition upon the democracy of Russia.
"You here?" I asked him.
His eyes flashed fire. "Yes!" he cried. "I left the Congress with my
party Wednesday night. I have not risked my life for twenty years
and more to submit now to the tyranny of the Dark People. Their
methods are intolerable. But they have not counted on the peasants....
When the peasants begin to act, then it is a question of minutes
before they are done for."
"But the peasants-will they act? Doesn't the Land decree settle the
peasants? What more do they want?"
"Ah, the Land decree!" he said furiously. "Yes, do you know what
that Land decree is? It is _our_ decree-it is the Socialist
Revolutionary programme, intact! My party framed that policy, after
the most careful compilation of the wishes of the peasants
themselves. It is an outrage...."
"But if it is your own policy, why do you object? If it is the
peasants' wishes, why will they oppose it?"
"You don't understand! Don't you see that the peasants will
immediately realise that it is all a trick-that these usurpers have
stolen the Socialist Revolutionary programme?"
I asked if it were true that Kaledin was marching north.
He nodded, and rubbed his hands with a sort of bitter satisfaction.
"Yes. Now you see what these Bolsheviki have done. They have raised
the counter-revolution against us. The Revolution is lost. The
Revolution is lost."
"But won't you defend the Revolution?"
"Of course we will defend it-to the last drop of our blood. But we
won't cooperate with the Bolsheviki in any way...."
"But if Kaledin comes to Petrograd, and the Bolsheviki defend the
city. Won't you join with them?"
"Of course not. We will defend the city also, but we won't support
the Bolsheviki. Kaledin is the enemy of the Revolution, but the
Bolsheviki are equally enemies of the Revolution."
"Which do you prefer-Kaledin or the Bolsheviki?"
"It is not a question to be discussed!" he burst out impatiently. "I
tell you, the Revolution is lost. And it is the Bolsheviki who are
to blame. But listen-why should we talk of such things? Kerensky is
comming.... Day after tomorrow we shall pass to the offensive....
Already Smolny has sent delegates inviting us to form a new
Government. But we have them now-they are absolutely impotent.... We
shall not cooperate...."
Outside there was a shot. We ran to the windows. A Red Guard,
finally exasperated by the taunts of the crowd, had shot into it,
wounding a young girl in the arm. We could see her being lifted into
a cab, surrounded by an excited throng, the clamour of whose voices
floated up to us. As we looked, suddenly an armoured automobile
appeared around the corner of the Mikhailovsky, its guns sluing this
way and that. Immediately the crowd began to run, as Petrograd
crowds do, falling down and lying still in the street, piled in the
gutters, heaped up behind telephone-poles. The car lumbered up to
the steps of the Duma and a man stuck his head out of the turret,
demanding the surrender of the _Soldatski Golos._ The boy-scouts
jeered and scuttled into the building. After a moment the automobile
wheeled undecidedly around and went off up the Nevsky, while some
hundreds of men and women picked themselves up and began to dust
Inside was a prodigious running-about of people with armfuls of
_Soldatski Golos,_ looking for places to hide them....
A journalist came running into the room, waving a paper.
"Here's a proclamation from Krasnov!" he cried. Everybody crowded
around. "Get it printed-get it printed quick, and around to the
By the order of the Supreme Commander I am appointed commandant of
the troops concentrated under Petrograd.
Citizens, soldiers, valorous Cossacks of the Don, of the Kuban, of
the Transbaikal, of the Amur, of the Yenissei, to all you who have
remained faithful to your oath I appeal; to you who have sworn to
guard inviolable your oath of Cossack-I call upon you to save
Petrograd from anarchy, from famine, from tyranny, and to save
Russia from the indelible shame to which a handful of ignorant men,
bought by the gold of Wilhelm, are trying to submit her.
The Provisional Government, to which you swore fidelity in the great
days of March, is not overthrown, but by violence expelled from the
edifice in which it held its meetings. However the Government, with
the help of the Front armies, faithful to their duty, with the help
of the Council of Cossacks, which has united under its command all
the Cossacks and which, strong with the morale which reigns in its
ranks, and acting in accordance with the will of the Russian people,
has sworn to serve the country as its ancestors served it in the
Troublous Times of 1612, when the Cossacks of the Don delivered
Moscow, menaced by the Swedes, the Poles, and the Lithuanians. Your
Government still exists....
The active army considers these criminals with horror and contempt.
Their acts of vandalism and pillage, their crimes, the German
mentality with which they regard Russia-stricken down but not yet
surrendered-have alienated from them the entire people.
Citizens, soldiers, valorous Cossacks of the garrison of Petrograd;
send me your delegates so that I may know who are traitors to their
country and who are not, that there may be avoided an effusion of
Almost the same moment word ran from group to group that the
building was surrounded by Red Guards. An officer strode in, a red
band around his arm, demanding the Mayor. A few minutes later he
left and old Schreider came out of his office, red and pale by turns.
"A special meeting of the Duma!" he cried. "Immediately!"
In the big hall proceedings were halted. "All members of the Duma
for a special meeting!"
"What's the matter?"
"I don't know-going to arrest us-going to dissolve the
Duma-arresting members at the door-" so ran the excited comments.
In the Nicolai Hall there was barely room to stand. The Mayor
announced that troops were stationed at all the doors, prohibiting
all exit and entrance, and that a Commissar had threatened arrest
and the dispersal of the Municipal Duma. A flood of impassioned
speeches from members, and even from the galleries, responded. The
freely-elected City Government could not be dissolved by _any_
power; the Mayor's person and that of all the members were
inviolable; the tyrants, the provocators, the German agents should
never be recognised; as for these threats to dissolve us, let them
try-only over our dead bodies shall they seize this chamber, where
like the Roman senators of old we await with dignity the coming of
Resolution, to inform the Dumas and Zemstvos of all Russia by
telegraph. Resolution, that it was impossible for the Mayor or the
Chairman of the Duma to enter into any relations whatever with
representatives of the Military Revolutionary Committee or with the
so-called Council of People's Commissars. Resolution, to address
another appeal to the population of Petrograd to stand up for the
defence of their elected town government. Resolution, to remain in
In the meanwhile one member arrived with the information that he had
telephoned to Smolny, and that the Military Revolutionary Committee
said that no orders had been given to surround the Duma, that the
troops would be withdrawn....
As we went downstairs Riazanov burst in through the front door, very
"Are you going to dissolve the Duma?" I asked.
"My God, no!" he answered. "It is all a mistake. I told the Mayor
this morning that the Duma would be left alone....
Out on the Nevsky, in the deepening dusk, a long double file of
cyclists came riding, guns slung on their shoulders. They halted,
and the crowd pressed in and deluged them with questions.
"Who are you? Where do you come from?" asked a fat old man with a
cigar in his mouth.
"Twelfth Army. From the front. We came to support the Soviets
against the damn' bourgeoisie!"
"Ah!" were furious cries. "Bolshevik gendarmes! Bolshevik Cossacks!"
A little officer in a leather coat came running down the steps. "The
garrison is turning!" he muttered in my ear. "It's the beginning of
the end of the Bolsheviki. Do you want to see the turn of the tide?
Come on!" He started at a half-trot up the Mikhailovsky, and we
"What regiment is it?"
"The _brunnoviki_...." Here was indeed serious trouble. The
_brunnoviki_ were the Armoured Car troops, the key to the situation;
whoever controlled the _brunnoviki_ controlled the city. "The
Commissars of the Committee for Salvation and the Duma have been
talking to them. There's a meeting on to decide....
"Decide what? Which side they'll fight on?"
"Oh, no. That's not the way to do it. They'll never fight against
the Bolsheviki. They will vote to remain neutral-and then the
_yunkers_ and Cossacks-"
The door of the great Mikhailovsky Riding-School yawned blackly. Two
sentinels tried to stop us, but we brushed by hurriedly, deaf to
their indignant expostulations. Inside only a single arc-light
burned dimly, high up near the roof of the enormous hall, whose
lofty pilasters and rows of windows vanished in the gloom. Around
dimly squatted the monstrous shapes of the armoured cars. One stood
alone in the centre of the place, under the light, and round it were
gathered some two thousand dun-colored soldiers, almost lost in the
immensity of that imperial building. A dozen men, officers, chairmen
of the Soldiers' Committees and speakers, were perched on top of the
car, and from the central turret a soldier was speaking. This was
Khanjunov, who had been president of last summer's all-Russian
Congress of _Brunnoviki._ A lithe, handsome figure in his leather
coat with lieutenant's shoulder-straps, he stood pleading eloquently
"It is an awful thing," he said, "for Russians to kill their Russian
brothers. There must not be civil war between soldiers who stood
shoulder to shoulder against the Tsar, and conquered the foreign
enemy in battles which will go down in history! What have we,
soldiers, got to do with these squabbles of political parties? I
will not say to you that the Provisional Government was a democratic
Government; we want no coalition with the bourgeoisie-no. But we
must have a Government of the united democracy, or Russia is lost!
With such a Government there will be no need for civil war, and the
killing of brother by brother!"
This sounded reasonable-the great hall echoed to the crash of hands
A soldier climbed up, his face white and strained, "Comrades!" he
cried, "I came from the Rumanian front, to urgently tell you all:
there must be peace! Peace at once! Whoever can give us peace,
whether it be the Bolsheviki or this new Government, we will follow.
Peace! We at the front cannot fight any longer. We cannot fight
either Germans or Russians-" With that he leaped down, and a sort of
confused agonised sound rose up from all that surging mass, which
burst into something like anger when the next speaker, a Menshevik
_oboronetz,_ tried to say that the war must go on until the Allies
"You talk like Kerensky!" shouted a rough voice.
A Duma delegate, pleading for neutrality. Him they listened to,
muttering uneasily, feeling him not one of them. Never have I seen
men trying so hard to understand, to decide. They never moved, stood
staring with a sort of terrible intentness at the speaker, their
brows wrinkled with the effort of thought, sweat standing out on
their foreheads; great giants of men with the innocent clear eyes of
children and the faces of epic warriors....
Now a Bolshevik was speaking, one of their own men, violently, full
of hate. They liked him no more than the other. It was not their
mood. For the moment they were lifted out of the ordinary run of
common thoughts, thinking in terms of Russia, of Socialism, the
world, as if it depended on them whether the Revolution were to live
Speaker succeeded speaker, debating amid tense silence, roars of
approval, or anger: should we come out or not? Khanjunov returned,
persuasive and sympathetic. But wasn't he an officer, and an
_oboronotz,_ however much he talked of peace? Then a workman from
Vasili Ostrov, but him they greeted with, "And are _you_ going to
give us peace, working-man?" Near us some men, many of them
officers, formed a sort of _claque_ to cheer the advocates of
Neutrality. They kept shouting, "Khanjunov! Khanjunov!" and whistled
insultingly when the Bolsheviki tried to speak.
Suddenly the committeemen and officers on top of the automobile
began to discuss something with great heat and much gesticulation.
The audience shouted to know what was the matter, and all the great
mass tossed and stirred. A soldier, held back by one of the
officers, wrenched himself loose and held up his hand.
"Comrades!" he cried, "Comrade Krylenko is here and wants to speak
to us." An outburst of cheers, whistlings, yells of _"Prosim!
Prosim! Dolby!_ Go ahead! Go ahead! Down with him!" in the midst of
which the People's Commissar for Military Affairs clambered up the
side of the car, helped by hands before and behind, pushed and
pulled from below and above. Rising he stood for a moment, and then
walked out on the radiator, put his hands on his hips and looked
around smiling, a squat, short-legged figure, bare-headed, with-out
insignia on his uniform.
The _claque_ near me kept up a fearful shouting, "Khanjunov! We want
Khanjunov! Down with him! Shut up! Down with the traitor!" The whole
place seethed and roared. Then it began to move, like an avalanche
bearing down upon us, great black-browed men forcing their way
"Who is breaking up our meeting?" they shouted. "Who is whistling
here?" The _claque,_ rudely burst asunder, went flying-nor did it
"Comrade soliders!" began Krylenko, in a voice husky with fatigue.
"I cannot speak well to you; I am sorry; but I have not had any
sleep for four nights....
"I don't need to tell you that I am a soldier. I don't need to tell
you that I want peace. What I must say is that the Bolshevik party,
successful in the Workers' and Soldiers' Revolution, by the help of
you and of all the rest of the brave comrades who have of you and of
all the rest of the brave comrades who have hurled down forever the
power of the blood-thirsty bourgeoisie, promised to offer peace to
all the peoples, and that has already been done-to-day!" Tumultuous
"You are asked to remain neutral--to remain neutral while the
_yunkers_ and the Death Battalions, who are _never_ neutral, shoot
us down in the streets and bring back to Petrograd Kerensky-or
perhaps some other of the gang. Kaledin is marching from the Don.
Kerensky is coming from the front. Kornilov is raising the
_Tekhintsi_ to repeat his attempt of August. All these Mensheviki
and Socialist Revolutionaries who call upon you now to prevent civil
war-how have they retained the power except by civil war, that civil
war which has endured ever since last July, and in which they
constantly stood on the side of the bourgeoisie, as they do now?
"How can I persuade you, if you have made up your minds? The
question is very plain. On one side are Kerensky, Kaledin, Kornilov,
the Mensheviki, Socialist Revolutionaries, Cadets, Dumas, officers....
They tell us that their objects are good. On the other side are the
workers, the soldiers and sailors, the poorest peasants. The
Government is in your hands. You are the masters. Great Russia
belongs to you. Will you give it back?"
While he spoke, he kept himself up by sheer evident effort of will,
and as he went on the deep sincere feeling back of his words broke
through the tired voice. At the end he totered, almost falling; a
hundred hands reached up to help him down, and the great dim spaces
of the hall gave back the surf of sound that beat upon him.
Khanjunov tried to speak again, but "Vote! Vote! Vote!" they cried.
At length, giving in, he read the resolution: that the _brunnoviki_
withdraw their representative from the Military Revolutionary
Committee, and declare their neutrality in the present civil war.
All those in favour should go to the right; those opposed, to the
left. There was a moment of hesitation, a still expectancy, and then
the crowd began to surge faster and faster, stumbling over one
another, to the left, hundreds of big soldiers in a solid mass
rushing across the dirt floor in the faint light.... Near us about
fifty men were left stranded, stubbornly in favour, and even as the
high roof shook under the shock of victorious roaring, they turned
and rapidly walked out of the building-and, some of them, out of the
Imagine this struggle being repeated in every barracks of the city,
the district, the whole front, all Russia. Imagine the sleepless
Krylenkos, watching the regiments, hurrying from place to place,
arguing, threatening, entreating. And then imaging the same in all
the locals of every labour union, in the factories, the villages, on
the battle-ships of the far-flung Russian fleets; think of the
hundreds of thousands of Russian men staring up at speakers all over
the vast country, workmen, peasants, soldiers, sailors, trying so
hard to understand and to choose, thinking so intensely-and deciding
so unanimously at the end. So was the Russian Revolution....
Up at Smolny the new Council of People's Commissars was not idle.
Already the first decree was on the presses, to be circulated in
thousands through the city streets that night, and shipped in bales
by every train southward and east:
In the name of the Government of the Russian Republic, chosen by the
All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies
with participation of peasant deputies, the Council of People's
1. The elections for the Constituent Assembly shall take place at
the date determined upon-November 12.
2. All electoral commissions, organs of local self-government,
Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, and soldiers'
organisations on the front should make every effort to assure free
and regular elections at the date determined upon.
In the name of the Government of the Russian Republic, _The
President of the Council of People's Commissars_,
In the Municipal building the Duma was in full blast. A member of
the Council of the Republic was talking as we came in. The Council,
he said, did not consider itself dissolved at all, but merely unable
to continue its labours until it secured a new meeting-place. In the
meanwhile, its Committee of Elders had determined to enter _en
masse_ the Committee for Salvation.... This, I may remark
parenthetically, is the last time history mentions the Council of
the Russian Republic....
Then followed the customary string of delegates from the Ministries,
the _Vikzhel,_ the Union of Posts and Telegraphs, for the hundredth
time reiterating their determination not to work for the Bolshevik
usurpers. A _yunker_ who had been in the Winter Palace told a
highly-coloured tale of the heroism of himself and his comrades, and
disgraceful conduct of the Red Guards-all of which was devoutly
believed. Somebody read aloud an account in the Socialist
Revolutionary paper _Narod,_ which stated that five hundred million
rubles' worth of damage had been done in the Winter Palace, and
describing in great detail the loot and breakage.
From time to time couriers came from the telephone with news. The
four Socialist Ministers had been released from prison. Krylenko had
gone to Peter-Paul to tell Admiral Verderevsky that the Ministry of
Marine was deserted, and to beg him, for the sake of Russia, to take
charge under the authority of the Council of People's Commissars;
and the old seaman had consented.... Kerensky was advancing north from
Gatchina, the Bolshevik garrisons falling back before him. Smolny
had issued another decree, enlarging the powers of the City Dumas to
deal with food supplies.
This last piece of insolence caused an outburst of fury. He, Lenin,
the usurper, the tyrant, whose Commissars had seized the Municipal
garage, entered the Municipal ware houses, were interfering with the
Supply Committees and the distribution of food-he presumed to define
the limits of power of the free, independent, autonomous City
Government! One member, shaking his fist, moved to cut off the food
of the city if the Bolsheviki dared to interfere with the Supply
Committees.... Another, representative of the Special Supply
Committee, reported that the food situation was very grave, and
asked that emissaries be sent out to hasten food trains.
Diedonenko announced dramatically that the garrison was wavering.
The Semionovsky regiment had already decided to submit to the orders
of the Socialist Revolutionary party; the crews of the torpedo-boats
on the Neva were shaky. Seven members were at once appointed to
continue the propaganda....
Then the old Mayor stepped into the tribune: "Comrades and citizens!
I have just learned that the prisoners in Peter Paul are in danger.
Fourteen _yunkers_ of the Pavlovsk school have been stripped and
tortured by the Bolshevik guards. One has gone mad. They are
threatening to lynch the Ministers!" There was a whirlwind of
indignation and horror, which only grew more violent when a stocky
little woman dressed in grey demanded the floor, and lifted up her
hard, metallic voice. This was Vera Slutskaya, veteran revolutionist
and Bolshevik member of the Duma.
"That is a lie and a provocation!" she said, unmoved at the torrent
of abuse. "The Workers' and Peasants' Government, which has
abolished the death penalty, cannot permit such deeds. We demand
that this story be investigated, at once; if there is any truth in
it, the Government will take energetic measures!"
A commission composed of members of all parties was immediately
appointed, and with the Mayor, sent to Peter Paul to investigate. As
we followed them out, the Duma was appointing another commission to
meet Kerensky--to try and avoid bloodshed when he entered the
It was midnight when we bluffed our past the guards at the gate of
the fortress, and went forward under the faint glimmer of rare
electric lights along the side of the church where lie the tombs of
the Tsars, beneath the slender golden spire and the chimes, which,
for months, continued to play _Bozhe Tsaria Khrani [*]_ every day at
[* "God Save the Tsar."
noon.... The place was deserted; in most of the windows there were not
even lights. Occasionally we bumped into a burly figure stumbling
along in the dark, who answered questions with the usual, _"Ya
[Graphic page-166 Pass to Reed fromDepartment of Prisons
Pass from the Department of Prisons of the Soviet Government to
visit freely all prisons of Petrograd and Cronstadt. (Translation)
Chief Bureau of Prisons
6th of November, 1917.
Institute, room No. 56-
To the representative of the American Socialist press, JOHN REED, to
visit all places of confinement in the cities of Petrograd and
Cronstadt, for the purpose of generally investigating the condition
of the prisoners, and for thorough social information for the
purpose of stopping the flood of newspaper lies against demorcracy.
On the left loomed the low dark outline of Trubetskoi Bastion, that
living grave in which so many martyrs of liberty had lost their
lives or their reason in the days of the Tsar, where the Provisional
Government had in turn shut up the Ministers of the Tsar, and now
the Bolsheviki had shut up the Ministers of the Provisional
A friendly sailor led us to the office of the commandant, in a
little house near the Mint. Half a dozen Red Guards, sailors and
soldiers were sitting around a hot room full of smoke, in which a
samovar steamed cheerfully. They welcomed us with great cordiality,
offering tea. The commandant was not in; he was escorting a
commission of _"sabotazhniki"_ (sabotageurs) from the City Duma, who
insisted that the _yunkers_ were all being murdered. This seemed to
amuse them very much. At one side of the room sat a bald-headed,
dissipated-looking little man in a frock-coat and a rich fur coat,
biting his moustache and staring around him like a cornered rat. He
had just been arrested. Somebody said, glancing carelessly at him,
that he was a Minister or something.... The little man didn't seem to
hear it; he was evidently terrified, although the occupants of the
room showed no animosity whatever toward him.
I went across and spoke to him in French. "Count Tolstoy," he
answered, bowing stiffly. "I do not understand why I was arrested. I
was crossing the Troitsky Bridge on my way home when two of these-of
these-persons held me up. I was a Commissar of the Provisional
Government attached to the General Staff, but in no sense a member
of the Government..."
"Let him go,"said a sailor. "He's harmless...."
"No," responded the soldier who had brought the prisoner. "We must
ask the commandant."
"Oh, the commandant!" sneered the sailor. "What did you make a
revolution for? To go on obeying officers?"
A _praporshtchik_ of the Pavlovsky regiment was telling us how the
insurrection started. "The _polk_ (regiment) was on duty at the
General Staff the night of the 6th. Some of my comrades and I were
standing guard; Ivan Pavlovitch and another man-I don't remember his
name-well, they hid behind the window-curtains in the room where the
Staff was having a meeting, and they heard a great many things. For any things. For | |
example, they heard orders to bring the Gatchina _yunkers_ to
Petrograd by night, and an order for the Cossacks to be ready to
march in the morning.... The principal points in the city were to be
occupied before dawn. Then there was the business of opening the
bridges. But when they began to talk about surrounding Smolny, then
Ivan Pavlovitch couldn't stand it any longer. That minute there was
a good deal of coming and going, so he slipped out and came down to
the guard-room,leaving the other comrade to pick up what he could.
"I was already suspicious that something was going on. Automobiles
full of officers kept coming, and all the Ministers were there. Ivan
Pavlovitch told me what he had heard. It was half-past two in the
morning. The secretary of the regimental Committee was there, so we
told him and asked what to do.
"'Arrest everybody coming and going!#' he says. So we began to do
it. In an hour we had some officers and a couple of Ministers, whom
we sent up to Smolny right away. But the Military Revolutionary
Committee wasn't ready; they didn't know what to do; and pretty soon
back came the order to let everybody go and not arrest anybody else.
Well, we ran all the way to Smolny, and I guess we talked for an
hour before they finally saw that it was war. It was five o'clock
when we got back to the Staff, and by that time most of them were
gone. But we got a few, and the garrison was all on the march...."
A Red Guard from Vasili Ostrov described in great detail what had
happened in his district on the great day of the rising. "We didn't
have any machine-guns over there," he said, laughing, "and we
couldn't get any from Smolny. Comrade Zalking, who was a member of
the _Uprava_ (Central Bureau) of the Ward Duma, remembered all at
once that there was lying in the meeting-room of the _Uprava_ a
machinegun which had been captured from the Germans. So he and I and
another comrade went there. The Mensheviki and Socialist
Revolutionaries were having a meeting. Well, we opened the door and
walked right in on them, as they sat around the table-twelve or
fifteen of them, three of us. When they saw us they stopped talking
and just stared. We walked right across the room, uncoupled the
machine-gun; Comrade Zalkind picked up one part, I the other, we put
them on our shoulders and walked out-and not a single man said a
"Do you know how the Winter Palace was captured?" asked a third man,
a sailor. "Along about eleven o'clock we found out there weren't any
more _yunkers_ on the Neva side. So we broke in the doors and
filtered up the different stairways one by one, or in little
bunches. When we got to the top of the stairs the _yunkers_ held us
up and took away our guns. Still our fellows kept coming up, little
by little, until we had a majority. Then we turned around and took
away the _yunkers'_ guns...."
Just then the commandant entered-a merry-looking young
non-commissioned officer with his arm in a sling, and deep circles
of sleeplessness under his eyes. His eye fell first on the prisoner,
who at once began to explain.
"Oh, yes," interrupted the other. "You were one of the committee who
refused to surrender the Staff Wednesday afternoon. However, we
don't want you, citizen. Apologies-" He opened the door and waved
his arm for Count Tolstoy to leave. Several of the others,
especially the Red Guards, grumbled protests, and the sailor
remarked triumphantly, _"Vot!_ There! Didn't I say so?"
Two soldiers now engaged his attention. They had been elected a
committee of the fortress garrison to protest. The prisoners, they
said, were getting the same food as the guards, when there wasn't
even enough to keep a man from being hungry. "Why should the
counter-revolutionists be treated so well?"
"We are revolutionists, comrades, not bandits," answered the
commandant. He turned to us. We explained that rumours were going
about that the _yunkers_ were being tortured, and the lives of the
Ministers threatened. Could we perhaps see the prisoners, so as to
be able to prove to the world-?"
"No," said the young soldier, irritably. "I am not going to disturb
the prisoners again. I have just been compelled to wake them up-they
were sure we were going to massacre them.... Most of the _yunkers_
have been released anyway, and the rest will go out to-morrow." He
turned abruptly away.
"Could we talk to the Duma commission, then?"
The Commandant, who was pouring himself a glass of tea, nodded.
"They are still out in the hall," he said carelessly.
Indeed they stood there just outside the door, in the feeble light
of an oil lamp, grouped around the Mayor and talking excitedly.
"Mr. Mayor," I said, "we are American correspondents. Will you
please tell us officially the result of your investigations?"
He turned to us his face of venerable dignity.
"There is no truth in the reports," he said slowly. "Except for the
incidents which occurred as the Ministers were being brought here,
they have been treated with every consideration. As for the
_yunkers,_ not one has received the slightest injury...."
Up the Nevsky, in the empty after-midnight gloom, an interminable
column of soldiers shuffled in silence-to battle with Kerensky. In
dim back streets automobiles without lights flitted to and fro, and
there was furtive activity in Fontanka 6, headquarters of the
Peasants' Soviet, in a certain apartment of a huge building on the
Nevsky, and in the _Injinierny Zamok_ (School of Engineers); the
Duma was illuminated....
In Smolny Institute the Military Revolutionary Committee flashed
baleful fire, pounding like an over-loaded dynamo....
The Revolutionary Front
SATURDAY, November 10th....
The Military Revolutionary Committee declares that it will not
tolerate any violation of revolutionary order....
Theft, brigandage, assaults and attempts at massacre will be
Following the example of the Paris Commune, the Committee will
destroy without mercy any looter or instigator of disorder....
Quiet lay the city. Not a hold-up, not a robbery, not even a drunken
fight. By night armed patrols went through the silent streets, and
on the corners soldiers and Red Guards squatted around little fires,
laughing and singing. In the daytime great crowds gathered on the
sidewalks listening to interminable hot debates between students and
soldiers, business men and workmen.
Citizens stopped each other on the street.
"The Cossacks are coming?"
"What's the latest?"
"I don't know anything. Where's Kerensky?"
"They say only eight versts from Petrograd.... Is it true that the
Bolsheviki have fled to the battleship _Avrora?"_
"They say so...."
Only the walls screamed, and the few newspapers; denunciation,
An enormous poster carried the hysterical manifesto of the Executive
Committee of the Peasant' Soviets:
....They (the Bolsheviki) dare to say that they are supported by the
Soviets of Peasants' Deputies, and that they are speaking on behalf
of the Soviets of Peasants' Deputies....
Let all working-class Russia know that this is a LIE, AND THAT ALL
THE WORKING PEASANTS-in the person of-the EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE
ALL-RUSSIAN SOVIETS OF PEASANTS' DEPUTIES-refutes with indignation
all participation of the organised peasantry in this criminal
violation of the will of the working-classes....
From the Soldier Section of the Socialist Revolutionary party:
The insane attempt of the Bolsheviki is on the eve of collapse. The
garrison is divided.... The Ministries are on strike and bread is
getting scarcer. All factions except the few Bolsheviki have left
the Congress. The Bolsheviki are alone....
We call upon all sane elements to group themselves around the
Committee for Salvation of Country and Revolution, and to prepare
themselves seriously to be ready at the first call of the Central
In a hand-bill the Council of the Republic recited its wrongs:
Ceding to the force of bayonets, the Council of the Republic has
been obliged to separate, and temporarily to interrupt its meetings.
The usurpers, with the words "Liberty and Socialism" on their lips,
have set up a rule of arbitrary violence. They have arrested the
members of the Provisional Government, closed the newspapers, seized
the printing-shops....This power must be considered the enemy of the
people and the Revolution; it is necessary to do battle with it, and
to pull it down....
The Council of the Republic, until the resumption of its labours,
invites the citizens of the Russian Republic to group themselves
around the....local Committees for Salvation of Country and
Revolution, which are organising the overthrow of the Bolsheviki and
the creation of a Government capable of leading the country to the
A revolution is a rising of all the people.... But here what have we?
Nothing but a handful of poor fools deceived by Lenin and Trotzky....
Their decrees and their appeals will simply add to the museum of
And _Narodnoye Slovo_(People'sWord-PopulistSocialist):
"Workers' and Peasants' Government?" That is only a pipedream;
nobody, either in Russia or in the countries of our Allies, will
recognise this "Government"-or even in the enemy countries....
The bourgeois press had temporarily disappeared...._Pravada_ had an
account of the first meeting of the new _Tsay-ee-kah,_ now the
parliament of the Russian Soviet Republic. Miliutin, Commissar of
Agriculture, remarked that the Peasants' Executive Committee had
called an All-Russian Peasant Congress for December 13th.
"But we cannot wait," he said. "We must have the backing of the
peasants. I propose that _we_ call the Congress of Peasants, and do
it immediately...." The Left Socialist Revolutionaries agreed. An
Appeal to the Peasants of Russia was hastily drafted, and a
committee of five elected to carry out the project.
The question of detailed plans for distributing the land, and the
question of Workers' Control of Industry, were postponed until the
experts working on them should submit a report.
Three decrees (See App. VII, Sect. 1) were read and approved: first,
Lenin's "General Rules For the Press," ordering the suppression of
all newspapers inciting to resistance and disobedience to the new
Government, inciting to criminal acts, or deliberately perverting
the news; the Decree of Moratorium for House-rents; and the Decree
Establishing a Workers' Militia. Also orders, one giving the
Municipal Duma power to requisition empty apartments and houses, the
other directing the unloading of freight cars in the railroad
terminals, to hasten the distribution of necessities and to free the
Two hours later the Executive Committee of the Peasants' Soviets was
sending broadcast over Russia the following telegram:
The arbitrary organisation of the Bolsheviki, which is called
"Bureau of Organisation for the National Congress of Peasants,"is
inviting all the Peasants' Soviets to send delegates to the Congress
The Executive Committee of the Soviets of Peasants' Deputies
declares that it considers, now as well as before, that it would be
dangerous to take away from the provinces at this moment the forces
necessary to prepare for elections to the Constituent Assembly,
which is the only salvation of the working-class and the country. We
confirm the date of the Congress of Peasants, _December 13th._
At the Duma all was excitement, officers coming and going, the Mayor
in conference with the leaders of the Committee for Salvation. A
Councillor ran in with a copy of Kerensky's proclamation, dropped by
hundreds from an aeroplane low flying down the Nevsky, which
threatened terrible vengeance on all who did not submit, and ordered
soldiers to lay down their arms and assemble immediately in Mars
The Minister-President had taken Tsarskoye Selo, we were told, and
was already in the Petrograd campagna, five miles away. He would
enter the city to-morrow-in a few hours. The Soviet troops in
contact with his Cossacks were said to be going over to the
Provisional Government. Tchernov was somewhere in between, trying to
organise the "neutral" troops into a force to halt the civil war.
In the city the garrison regiments were leaving the Bolsheviki, they
said. Smolny was already abandoned.... All the Governmental machinery
had stopped functioning. The employees of the State Bank had refused
to work under Commissars from Smolny, refused to pay out money to
them. All the private banks were closed. The Ministries were on
strike. Even now a committee from the Duma was making the rounds of
business houses, collecting a fund to pay the salaries of the
Trotzky had gone to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ordered the
clerks to translate the Decree on Peace into foreign languages; six
hundred functionaries had hurled their resignations in his face....
Shliapnikov, Commissar of Labour, had commanded all the employees of
his Ministry to return to their places within twenty-four hours, or
lose their places and their pension-rights; only the door-servants
had responded.... Some of the branches of the Special Food Supply
Committee had suspended work rather than submit to the Bolsheviki....
In spite of lavish promises of high wages and better conditions, the
operators at the Telephone Exchange would not connect Soviet
The Socialist Revolutionary Party had voted to expel all members who
had remained in the Congress of Soviets, and all who were taking
part in the insurrection....
News from the provinces. Moghilev had declared against the
Bolsheviki. At Kiev the Cossacks had overthrown the Soviets and
arrested all the insurrectionary leaders. The Soviet and garrison of
Luga, thirty thousand strong, affirmed its loyalty to the
Provisional Government, and appealed to all Russia to rally around
it. Kaledin had dispersed all Soviets and Unions in the Don Basin,
and his forces were moving north....
Said a representative of the Railway Workers: "Yesterday we sent a
telegram all over Russia demanding that war between the political
parties cease at once, and insisting on the formation of a coalition
Socialist Government. Otherwise we shall call a strike to-morrow
night.... In the morning there will be a meeting of all factions to
consider the question. The Bolsheviki seem anxious for an
"If they last that long!" laughed the City Engineer, a stout, ruddy
As we came up to Smolny-not abandoned, but busier than ever, throngs
of workers and soldiers running in and out, and doubled guards
everywhere-we met the reporters for the bourgeois and "moderate"
"Threw us out!" cried one, from _Volia Naroda._ "Bonch-Bruevitch
came down to the Press Bureau and told us to leave! Said we were
spies!" They all began to talk at once: "Insult! Outrage! Freedom of
In the lobby were great tables heaped with stacks of appeals,
proclamations and orders of the Military Revolutionary Committee.
Workmen and soldiers staggered past, carrying them to waiting
TO THE PILLORY!
In this tragic moment through which the Russian masses are living,
the Mensheviki and their followers and the Right Socialist
Revolutionaries have betrayed the working-class. They have enlisted
on the side of Kornilov, Kerensky and Savinkov....
They are printing orders of the traitor Kerensky and creating a
panic in the city, spreading the most ridiculous rumours of mythical
victories by that renegade....
Citizens! Don't believe these false rumours. No power can defeat the
People's Revolution.... Premier Kerensky and his followers await
speedy and well-deserved punishment....
We are putting them in the Pillory. We are abandoning them to the
enmity of all workers, soldiers, sailors and peasants, on whom they
are trying to rivet the ancient chains. They will never be able to
wash from their bodies the stain of the people's hatred and contempt.
Shame and curses to the traitors of the People!...
The Military Revolutionary Committee had moved into larger quarters,
room 17 on the top floor. Red Guards were at the door. Inside, the
narrow space in front of the railing was crowded with well-dressed
persons, outwardly respectful but inwardly full of murder-bourgeois
who wanted permits for their automobiles, or passports to leave the
city, among them many foreigners.... Bill Shatov and Peters were on
duty. They suspended all other business to read us the latest
The One Hundred Seventy-ninth Reserve Regiment offers its unanimous
support. Five thousand stevedores at the Putilov wharves greet the
new Government. Central Committee of the Trade Unions-enthusiastic
support. The garrison and squadron at Reval elect Military
Revolutionary Committees to cooperate, and despatch troops. Military
Revolutionary Committees control in Pskov and Minsk. Greetings from
the Soviets of Tsaritzin, Rovensky-on-Don, Tchernogorsk,
Sevastopol.... The Finland Division, the new Committees of the Fifth
and Twelfth Armies, offer allegiance....
From Moscow the news is uncertain. Troops of the Military
Revolutionary Committee occupy the strategic points of the city; two
companies on duty in the Kremlin have gone over to the Soviets, but
the Arsenal is in the hands of Colonel Diabtsev and his _yunkers._
The Revolutionary Committee demanded arms for the workers, and
Riabtsev parleyed with them until this morning, when suddenly he
sent an ultimatum to the Committee, ordering Soviet troops to
surrender and the Committee to disband. Fighting has begun....
In Petrograd the Staff submitted to Smolny's Commissars at once. The
_Tsentroflot,_ refusing, was stormed by Dybenko and a company of
Cronstadt sailors, and a new _Tsentroflot_ set up, supported by the
Baltic and the Black Sea battleships....
But beneath all the breezy assurance there was a chill premonition,
a feeling of uneasiness in the air. Kerensky's Cossacks were coming
fast; they had artillery. Skripnik, Secretary of the Factory-Shop
Committees, his face drawn and yellow, assured me that there was a
whole army corps of them, but he added, fiercely, "They'll never
take us alive!" Petrovsky laughed weariedly, "To-morrow maybe we'll
get a sleep-a long one...." Lozovsky, with his emaciated, red-bearded
face, said, "What chance have we? All alone.... A mob against trained
South and south-west the Soviets had fled before Kerensky, and the
garrisons of Gatchina, Pavlovsk, Tsarskoye Selo were divided-half
voting to remain neutral, the rest, without officers, falling back
on the capital in the wildest disorder.
In the halls they were pasting up bulletins:
FROM KRASNOYE SELO, NOVEMBER 10TH, 8 A.M.
_To be communicated to all Commanders of Staffs, Commanders in
Chief, Commanders, everywhere and to all, all, all._
The ex-Minister Kerensky has sent a deliberately false telegram to
every one everywhere to the effect that the troops of revolutionary
Petrograd have voluntarily surrendered their arms and joined the
armies of the former Government, the Government of Treason, and that
the soldiers have been ordered by the Military Revolutionary
Committee to retreat. The troops of a free people do not retreat nor
do they surrender.
Our troops have left Gatchina in order to avoid bloodshed between
themselves and their mistaken brother-Cossacks, and in order to take
a more convenient position, which is at present so strong that if
Kerensky and his companions in arms should even increase their
forces ten times, still there would be no cause for anxiety. The
spirit of our troops is excellent.
In Petrograd all is quiet.
_Chief of the Defence of Petrograd and the Petrograd District,_
As we left the Military Revolutionary Committee Antonov entered, a
paper in his hand, looking like a corpse.
"Send this," said he.
TO ALL DISTRICT SOVIETS OF WORKERS' DEPUTIES AND FACTORYSHOP
The Kornilovist bands of Kerensky are threatening the approaches to
the capital. All the necessary orders have been given to crush
mercilessly the counter-revolutionary attempt against the people and
The Army and the Red Guard of the Revolution are in need of the
immediate support of the workers.
WE ORDER THE WARD SOVIETS AND FACTORY-SHOP COMMITTEES:
1. To move out the greatest possible number of workers for the
digging of trenches, the erection of barricades and reinforcing of
2. Wherever it shall be necessary for this purpose to stop work at
the factories this shall be done immediately.
3. All common and barbed wire available must be assembled, and also
all implements for the digging of trenches and the erection of
4. All available arms must be taken.
5. THE STRICTEST DISCIPLINE IS TO BE OBSERVED, AND EVERY ONE MUST BE
READY TO SUPPORT THE ARMY OF THE REVOLUTION BY ALL MEANS.
_Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet of Worker's and Soldiers'
People's Commissar LEON TROTZKY.
_Chairman of the Military Revolutionary Committee,_
Commander in Chief PODVOISKY.
As we came out into the dark and gloomy day all around the grey
horizon factory whistles were blowing, a hoarse and nervous sound,
full of foreboding. By tens of thousands the working-people poured
out, men and women; by tens of thousands the humming slums belched
out their dun and miserable hordes. Red Petrograd was in danger!
Cossacks! South and southwest they poured through the shabby streets
toward the Moskovsky Gate, men, women and children, with rifles,
picks, spades, rolls of wire, cartridge-belts over their working
clothes.... Such an immense, spontaneous outpouring of a city never
was seen! They rolled along torrent-like, companies of soldiers
borne with them, guns, motor-trucks, wagons-the revolutionary
proletariat defending with its breast the capital of the Workers'
and Peasants' Republic!
Before the door of Smolny was an automobile. A slight man with thick
glasses magnifying his red-rimmed eyes, his speech a painful effort,
stood leaning against a mud-guard with his hands in the pockets of a
shabby raglan. A great bearded sailor, with the clear eyes of youth,
prowled restlessly about, absently toying with an enormous
blue-steel revolver, which never left his hand. These were Antonov
Some soldiers were trying to fasten two military bicycles on the
running-board. The chauffeur violently protested; the enamel would
get scratched, he said. True, he was a Bolshevik, and the automobile
was commandeered from a bourgeois; true, the bicycles were for the
use of orderlies. But the chauffeur's professional pride was
revolted.... So the bicycles were abandoned....
The People's Commissars for War and Marine were going to inspect the
revolutionary front-wherever that was. Could we go with them?
Certainly not. The automobile only held five-the two Commissars, two
orderlies and the chauffeur. However, a Russian acquaintance of
mine, whom I will call Trusishka, calmly got in and sat down, nor
could any argument dislodge him....
I see no reason to doubt Trusishka's story of the journey. As they
went down the Suvorovsky Prospect some one mentioned food. They
might be out three or four days, in a country indifferently well
provisioned. They stopped the car. Money? The Commissar of War
looked through his pockets-he hadn't a kopek. The Commissar of
Marine was broke. So was the chauffeur. Trusishka bought the
Just as they turned into the Nevsky a tire blew out.
"What shall we do?" asked Antonov.
"Commandeer another machine!" suggested Dybenko, waving his
revolver. Antonov stood in the middle of the street and signalled a
passing machine, driven by a soldier.
"I want that machine," said Antonov.
"You won't get it," responded the soldier.
"Do you know who I am?" Antonov produced a paper upon which was
written that he had been appointed Commander-in-Chief of all the
armies of the Russian Republic, and that every one should obey him
"I don't care if you're the devil himself," said the soldier, hotly.
"This machine belongs to the First Machine-Gun Regiment, and we're
carrying ammunition in it, and you can't have it...."
The difficulty, however, was solved by the appearance of an old
battered taxi-cab, flying the Italian flag. (In time of trouble
private cars were registered in the name of foreign consulates, so
as to be safe from requisition.) From the interior of this was
dislodged a fat citizen in an expensive fur coat, and the party
continued on its way.
Arrived at Narvskaya Zastava, about ten miles out, Antonov called
for the commandant of the Red Guard. He was led to the edge of the
town, where some few hundred workmen had dug trenches and were
waiting for the Cossacks.
"Everything all right here, comrade?" asked Antonov.
"Everything perfect, comrade," answered the commandant.
"The troops are in excellent spirits.... Only one thing-we have no
"In Smolny there are two billion rounds," Antonov told him. "I will
give you an order." He felt in his pockets. "Has any one a piece of
Dybenko had none-nor the couriers. Trusishka had to offer his
"Devil! I have no pencil!" cried Antonov. "Who's got a pencil?"
Needless to say, Trusishka had the only pencil in the crowd....
We who were left behind made for the Tsarskoye Selo station. Up the
Nevsky, as we passed, Red Guards were marching, all armed, some with
bayonets and some without. The early twilight of winter was falling.
Heads up they tramped in the chill mud, irregular lines of four,
without music, without drums. A red flag crudely lettered in gold,
"Peace! Land!" floated over them. They were very young. The
expression on their faces was that of who know they are going to
die.... Half-fearful, half-contemptuous, the crowds on the sidewalk
watched them pass, in hateful silence....
[Graphic page-184 Pass to the Northern Front]
This pass was issued upon the recommendation of Trotzky three days
after the Bolshevik Revolution. It gives me the right of free travel
to the Northern front-and an added note on the back extends the
permission to all fronts. It will be noticed that the speaks of the
_Petersburg_, instead of the _Petrograd_ Soviet; it was the fashion
among thorough-going internationalists to abolish all names which
smacked of "patriotism"; but at the same time, it would not do to
restore the "Saint."...
Petrograd Soviet of
Workers' and Soldiers'
28th October, 1917
The present certificate is given to the representative of the
American Social Democracy, the internationalist comrade JOHN REED.
The Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petersburg Soviet of
Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies gives him the right of free travel
through the entire Northern front, for the purpose of reporting to
our American comrades-internationalists concerning events in Russia.
For the President
For the Secretary
At the railroad station nobody knew just where Kerensky was, or
where the front lay. Trains went no further, however, than
Our car was full of commuters and country people going home, laden
with bundles and evening papers. The talk was all of the Bolshevik
rising. Outside of that, however, one would never have realised that
civil war was rending mighty Russia in two, and that the train was
headed into the zone of battle. Through the window we could see, in
the swiftly-deepening darkness, masses of soldiers going along the
muddy road toward the city, flinging out their arms in argument. A
freight-train, swarming with troops and lit up by huge bonfires, was
halted on a siding. That was all. Back along the flat horizon the
glow of the city's lights faded down the night. A street-car crawled
distantly along a far-flung suburb....
Tsarskoye Selo-station was quiet, but knots of soldiers stood here
and there talking in low tones and looking uneasily down the empty
track in the direction of Gatchina. I asked some of them which side
they were on. "Well," said one, "we don't exactly know the rights of
the matter.... There is no doubt that Kerensky is a provocator, but we
do not consider it right for Russian men to be shooting Russian men."
In the station commandant's office was a big, jovial, bearded common
soldier, wearing the red arm-band of a regimental committee. Our
credentials from Smolny commanded immediate respect. He was plainly
for the Soviets, but bewildered.
"The Red Guards were here two hours ago, but they went away again. A
Commissar came this morning, but he returned to Petrograd when the
"The Cossacks are here then?"
He nodded, gloomily. "There has been a battle. The Cossacks came
early in the morning. They captured two or three hundred of our men,
and killed about twenty-five."
"Where are the Cossacks?"
"Well, they didn't get this far. I don't know just where they are.
Off that way...." He waved his arm vaguely westward.
We had dinner-an excellent dinner, better and cheaper than could be
got in Petrograd-in the station restaurant. Nearby sat a French
officer who had just come on foot from Gatchina. All was quiet
there, he said. Kerensky held the town. "Ah, these Russians," he
went on, "they are original! What a civil war! Everything except the
We sallied out into the town. Just at the door of the station stood
two soldiers with rifles and bayonets fixed. They were surrounded by
about a hundred business men, Government officials and students, who
attacked them with passionate argument and epithet. The soldiers
were uncomfortable and hurt, like children unjustly scolded.
A tall young man with a supercilious expression, dressed in the
uniform of a student, was leading the attack.
"You realise, I presume," he said insolently, "that by taking up
arms against your brothers you are making your-selves the tools of
murderers and traitors?"
"Now brother,"answered the soldier earnestly, "you don't understand.
There are two classes, don't you see, the proletariat and the
"Oh, I know that silly talk!" broke in the student rudely. "A bunch
of ignorant peasants like you hear somebody bawling a few
catch-words. You don't understand what they mean. You just echo them
like a lot of parrots." The crowd laughed. "I'm a Marxian student.
And I tell you that this isn't Socialism you are fighting for. It's
just plain pro-German anarchy!"
"Oh, yes, I know," answered the soldier, with sweat dripping from
his brow. "You are an educated man, that is easy to see, and I am
only a simple man. But it seems to me--"
"I suppose," interrupted the other contemptuously, "that you believe
Lenin is a real friend of the proletariat?"
"Yes, I do," answered the soldier, suffering.
"Well, my friend, do you know that Lenin was sent through Germany in
a closed car? Do you know that Lenin took money from the Germans?"
"Well, I don't know much about that," answered the soldier
stubbornly, "but it seems to me that what he says is what I want to
hear, and all the simple men like me. Now there are two classes, the
bourgeoisie and the proletariat--"
"You are a fool! Why, my friend, I spent two years in Schlüsselburg
for revolutionary activity, when you were still shooting down
revolutionists and singing 'God Save the Tsar!' My name is Vasili
Georgevitch Panyin. Didn't you ever hear of me?"
"I'm sorry to say I never did," answered the soldier with humility.
"But then, I am not an educated man. You are probably a great hero."
"I am," said the student with conviction. "And I am opposed to the
Bolsheviki, who are destroying our Russia, our free Revolution. Now
how do you account for that?"
The soldier scratched his head. "I can't account for it at all," he
said, grimacing with the pain of his intellectual processes. "To me
it seems perfectly simple-but then, I'm not well educated. It seems
like there are only two classes, the proletariat and the
"There you go again with your silly formula!" cried the student.
"--only two classes," went on the soldier, doggedly.
ldquo;And whoever isn't on one side is on the other..."
We wandered on up the street, where the lights were few and far
between, and where people rarely passed. A threatening silence hung
over the place-as of a sort of purgatory between heaven and hell, a
political No Man's Land. Only the barber shops were all brilliantly
lighted and crowded, and a line formed at the doors of the public
bath; for it was Saturday night, when all Russia bathes and perfumes
itself. I haven't the slightest doubt that Soviet troops and
Cossacks mingled in the places where these ceremonies were performed.
The nearer we came to the Imperial Park, the more deserted were the
streets. A frightened priest pointed out the headquarters of the
Soviet, and hurried on. It was in the wing of one of the Grand Ducal
palaces, fronting the Park. The windows were dark, the door locked.
A soldier, lounging about with his hands in the top of his trousers,
looked us up and down with gloomy suspicion. "The Soviet went away
two days ago," said he. "Where?" A shrug. _"Nie znayu._ I don't
A little further along was a large building, brightly illuminated.
From within came a sound of hammering. While we were hesitating, a
soldier and a sailor came down the street, hand in hand. I showed
them my pass from Smolny. "Are you for the Soviets?" I asked. They
did not answer, but looked at each other in a frightened way.
"What is going on in there?" asked the sailor, pointing to the
"I don't know."
Timidly the soldier put out his hand and opened the door a crack.
Inside a great hall hung with bunting and evergreens, rows of
chairs, a stage being built.
A stout woman with a hammer in her hand and her mouth full of tacks
came out. "What do you want?" she asked.
"Is there a performance to-night?" said the sailor, nervously.
"There will be private theatricals Sunday night," she answered
severely. "Go away."
We tried to engage the soldier and sailor in conversation, but they
seemed frightened and unhappy, and drew off into the darkness.
We strolled toward the Imperial Palaces, along the edge of the vast,
dark gardens, their fantastic pavilions and ornamental bridges
looming uncertainly in the night, and soft water splashing from the
fountains. At one place, where a ridiculous iron swan spat
unceasingly from an artificial grotto, we were suddenly aware of
observation, and looked up to encounter the sullen, suspicious gaze
of half a dozen gigantic armed soldiers, who stared moodily down
from a grassy terrace. I climbed up to them. "Who are you?" I asked.
"We are the guard," answered one. They all looked very depressed, as
undoubtedly they were, from weeks and weeks of all-day all-night
argument and debate.
"Are you Kerensky's troops, or the Soviets'?"
There was silence for a moment, as they looked uneasily at each
other. Then, "We are neutral," said he.
We went on through the arch of the huge Ekaterina Palace, into the
Palace enclosure itself, asking for headquarters. A sentry outside a
door in a curving white wing of the Palace said that the commandant
In a graceful, white, Georgian room, divided into unequal parts by a
two-sided fire-place, a group of officers stood anxiously talking.
They were pale and distracted, and evidently hadn't slept. To one,
an oldish man with a white beard, his uniform studded with
decorations, who was pointed out as the Colonel, we showed our
He seemed surprised. "How did you get here without being killed?" he
asked politely. "It is very dangerous in the streets just now.
Political passion is running very high in Tsarskoye Selo. There was
a battle this morning, and there will be another to-morrow morning.
Kerensky is to enter the town at eight o'clock."
"Where are the Cossacks?"
"About a mile over that way." He waved his arm.
"And you will defend the city against them?"
"Oh dear no." He smiled. "We are holding the city for Kerensky." Our
hearts sank, for our passes stated that we were revolutionary to the
core. The Colonel cleared his throat. "About those passes of yours,"
he went on. "Your lives will be in danger if you are captured.
Therefore, if you want to see the battle, I will give you an order
for rooms in the officers' hotel, and if you will come back here at
seven o'clock in the morning, I will give you new passes."
"So you are for Kerensky?" we said.
"Well, not exactly _for_ Kerensky." The Colonel hesitated. "You see,
most of the soldiers in the garrison are Bolsheviki, and to-day,
after the battle, they all went away in the direction of Petrograd,
taking the artillery with them. You might say that none of the
_soldiers_ are for Kerensky; but some of them just don't want to
fight at all. The _officers_ have almost all gone over to Kerensky's
forces, or simply gone away. We are-ahem-in a most difficult
position, as you see...."
We did not believe that there would be any battle.... The Colonel
courteously sent his orderly to escort us to the railroad station.
He was from the South, born of French immigrant parents in
Bessarabia. "Ah," he kept saying, "it is not the danger or the
hardships I mind, but being so long, three years, away from my
Looking out of the window of the train as we sped through the cold
dark toward Petrograd, I caught glimpses of clumps of soldiers
gesticulating in the light of fires, and of clusters of armoured
cars halted together at cross-roads, the chauffeurs hanging out of
the turrets and shouting to each other....
All the troubled night over the bleakflats leaderless bands of
soldiers and Red Guards wandered, clashing and confused, and the
Commissars of the Military Revolutionary Committee hurried from one
group to another, trying to organise a defence....
Back in town excited throngs were moving in tides up and down the
Nevsky. Something was in the air. From the Warsaw Railway station
could be heard far-off cannonade. In the _yunker_ schools there was
feverish activity. Duma members went from barracks to barracks,
arguing and pleading, narrating fearful stories of Bolshevik
violence-massacre of the _yunkers_ in the Winter Palace, rape of the
women soldiers, the shooting of the girl before the Duma, the murder
of Prince Tumanov.... In the Alexander Hall of the Duma building the
Committee for Salvation was in special session; Commissars came and
went, running.... All the journalists expelled from Smolny were there,
in high spirits. They did not believe our report of conditions in
Tsarskoye. Why, everybody knew that Tsarskoye was in Kerensky's
hands, and that the Cossacks were now at Pulkovo. A committee was
being elected to meet Kerensky at the railway station in the
One confided to me, in strictest secrecy, that the
counter-revolution would begin at midnight. He showed me two
proclamations, one signed by Gotz and Polkovnikov, ordering the
_yunker_ schools, soldier convalescents in the hospitals, and the
Knights of St. George to mobilise on a war footing and wait for
orders from the Committee for Salvation; the other from the
Committee for Salvation itself, which read as follows:
To the Population of Petrograd!
Comrades, workers, soldiers and citizens of revolutionary Petrograd! nary Petrograd! | |
The Bolsheviki, while appealing for peace at the front, are inciting
to civil war in the rear.
Do not dig their provocatory appeals!
Do not dig trenches!
Down with the traitorous barricades!
Lay down your arms!
Soldiers, return to your barracks!
The war begun in Petrograd-is the death of the Revolution!
In the name of liberty, land, and peace, unite around the Committee
for Salvation of Country and Revolution!
As we left the Duma a company of Red Guards, stern-faced and
desperate, came marching down the dark, deserted street with a dozen
prisoners-members of the local branch of the Council of Cossacks,
caught red-handed plotting counter-revolution in their headquarters....
A soldier, accompanied by a small boy with a pail of paste, was
sticking up great flaring notices:
By virtue of the present, the city of Petrograd and its suburbs are
declared in a state of siege. All assemblies or meetings in the
streets, and generally in the open air, are forbidden until further
N. PODVOISKY, President of the Military
As we went home the air was full of confused sound-automobile horns,
shouts, distant shots. The city stirred uneasily, wakeful.
In the small hours of the morning a company of _yunkers,_ disguised
as soldiers of the Semionovsky Regiment, presented themselves at the
Telephone Exchange just before the hour of changing guard. They had
the Bolshevik password, and took charge without arousing suspicion.
A few minutes later Antonov appeared, making a round of inspection.
Him they captured and locked in a small room. When the relief came
it was met by a blast of rifle-fire, several being killed.
Counter-revolution had begun...
NEXT morning, Sunday the 11th, the Cossacks entered Tsarskoye Selo,
Kerensky (See App. VIII, Sect. 1) himself riding a white horse and
all the church-bells clamouring. From the top of a little hill
outside the town could be seen the golden spires and many-coloured
cupolas, the sprawling grey immensity of the capital spread along
the dreary plain, and beyond, the steely Gulf of Finland.
There was no battle. But Kerensky made a fatal blunder. At seven in
the morning he sent word to the Second Tsarskoye Selo Rifles to lay
down their arms. The soldiers replied that they would remain
neutral, but would not disarm. Kerensky gave them ten minutes in
which to obey. This angered the soldiers; for eight months they had
been governing themselves by committee, and this smacked of the old
régime.... A few minutes later Cossack artillery opened fire on the
barracks, killing eight men. From that moment there were no more
"neutral" soldiers in Tsarskoye....
Petrograd woke to bursts of rifle-fire, and the tramping thunder of
men marching. Under the high dark sky a cold wind smelt of snow. At
dawn the Military Hotel and the Telegraph Agency had been taken by
large forces of _yunkers,_ and bloodily recaptured. The Telephone
Station was besieged by sailors, who lay behind barricades of
barrels, boxes and tin sheets in the middle of the Morskaya, or
sheltered themselves at the corner of the Gorokhovaya and of St.
Isaac's Square, shooting at anything that moved. Occasionally an
automobile passed in and out, flying the Red Cross flag. The sailors
let it pass....
Albert Rhys Williams was in the Telephone Exchange. He went out with
the Red Cross automobile, which was ostensibly full of wounded.
After circulating about the city, the car went by devious ways to
the Mikhailovsky _yunker_ school, headquarters of the
counter-revolution. A French officer, in the court-yard, seemed to
be in command.... By this means ammunition and supplies were conveyed
to the Telephone Exchange. Scores of these pretended ambulances
acted as couriers and ammunition trains for the _yunkers._
Five or six armoured cars, belonging to the disbanded British
Armoured Car Division, were in their hands. As Louise Bryant was
going along St. Isaac's Square one came rolling up from the
Admiralty, on its way to the Telephone Exchange. At the corner of
the Gogolia, right in front of her, the engine stalled. Some sailors
ambushed behind wood-piles began shooting. The machine-gun in the
turret of the thing slewed around and spat a hail of bullets
indiscriminately into the wood-piles and the crowd. In the archway
where Miss Bryant stood seven people were shot dead, among them two
little boys. Suddenly, with a shout, the sailors leaped up and
rushed into the flaming open; closing around the monster, they
thrust their bayonets into the loop-holes, again and again, yelling...
The chauffeur pretended to be wounded, and they let him go free-to
run to the Duma and swell the tale of Bolshevik atrocities....Among
the dead was a British Officer....
Later the newspapers told of another French officer, captured in a
_yunker_ armoured car and sent to Peter-Paul. The French Embassy
promptly denied this, but one of the City Councillors told me that
he himself had procured the officer's release from prison....
Whatever the official attitude of the Allied Embassies, individual
French and British officers were active these days, even to the
extent of giving advice at executive sessions of the Committee for
All day long in every quarter of the city there were skirmishes
between _yunkers_ and Red Guards, battles between armoured cars....
Volleys, single shots and the shrill chatter of machine-guns could
be heard, far and near. The iron shutters of the shops were drawn,
but business still went on. Even the moving-picture shows, all
outside lights dark, played to crowded houses. The street-cars ran.
The telephones were all working; when you called Central, shooting
could be plainly heard over the wire.... Smolny was cut off, but the
Duma and the Committee for Salvation were in constant communication
with all the _yunker_ schools and with Kerensky at Tsarskoye.
At seven in the morning the Vladimir _yunker_ school was visited by
a patrol of soldiers, sailors and Red Guards, who gave the _yunkers_
twenty minutes to lay down their arms. The ultimatum was rejected.
An hour later the _yunkers_ got ready to march, but were driven back
by a violent fusillade from the corner of the Grebetskaya and the
Bolshoy Prospekt. Soviet troops surrounded the building and opened
fire, two armoured cars cruising back and forth with machine guns
raking it. The _yunkers_ telephoned for help. The Cossacks replied
that they dare not come, because a large body of sailors with two
cannon commanded their barracks. The Pavlovsk school was surrounded.
Most of the Mikhailov _yunkers_ were fighting in the streets....
At half-past eleven three field-pieces arrived. Another demand to
surrender was met by the _yunkers_ shooting down two of the Soviet
delegates under the white flag. Now began a real bombardment. Great
holes were torn in the walls of the school. The _yunkers_ defended
themselves desperately; shouting waves of Red Guards, assaulting,
crumpled under the withering blast.... Kerensky telephoned from
Tsarskoye to refuse all parley with the Military Revolutionary
Frenzied by defeat and their heaps of dead, the Soviet troops opened
a tornado of steel and flame against the battered building. Their
own officers could not stop the terrible bombardment. A Commissar
from Smolny named Kirilov tried to halt it; he was threatened with
lynching. The Red Guards' blood was up.
At half-past two the _yunkers_ hoisted a white flag; they would
surrender if they were guaranteed protection. This was promised.
With a rush and a shout thousands of soldiers and Red Guards poured
through windows, doors and holes in the wall. Before it could be
stopped five _yunkers_ were beaten and stabbed to death. The rest,
about two hundred, were taken to Peter-Paul under escort, in small
groups so as to avoid notice. On the way a mob set upon one party,
killing eight more _yunkers_.... More than a hundred Red Guards and
soldiers had fallen....
Two hours later the Duma got a telephone message that the victors
were marching toward the _Injinierny Zamok_-the Engineers' school. A
dozen members immediately set out to distribute among them armfuls
of the latest proclamation of the Committee for Salvation. Several
did not come back.... All the other schools surrendered without
resistance, and the _yunkers_ were sent unharmed to Peter-Paul and
The Telephone Exchange held out until afternoon, when a Bolshevik
armoured car appeared, and the sailors stormed the place. Shrieking,
the frightened telephone girls ran to and fro; the _yunkers_ tore
from their uniforms all distinguishing marks, and one offered
Williams _anything_ for the loan of his overcoat, as a disguise....
"They will massacre us! They will massacre us!" they cried, for many
of them had given their word at the Winter Palace not to take up
arms against the People. Williams offered to mediate if Antonov were
released. This was immediately done; Antonov and Williams made
speeches to the victorious sailors, inflamed by their many dead-and
once more the _yunkers_ went free.... All but a few, who in their
panic tried to flee over the roofs, or to hide in the attic, and
were found and hurled into the street.
Tired, bloody, triumphant, the sailors and workers swarmed into the
switchboard room, and finding so many pretty girls, fell back in an
embarrassed way and fumbled with awkward feet. Not a girl was
injured, not one insulted. Frightened, they huddled in the corners,
and then, finding themselves safe, gave vent to their spite. "Ugh!
The dirty, ignorant people! The fools!"... The sailors and Red Guards
were embarrassed. "Brutes! Pigs!" shrilled the girls, indignantly
putting on their coats and hats. Romantic had been their experience
passing up cartridges and dressing the wounds of their dashing young
defenders, the _yunkers,_ many of them members of noble families,
fighting to restore their beloved Tsar! These were just common
workmen, peasants, "Dark People."...
The Commissar of the Military Revolutionary Committee, little
Vishniak, tried to persuade the girls to remain. He was effusively
polite. "You have been badly treated," he said. "The telephone
system is controlled by the Municipal Duma. You are paid sixty
rubles a month, and have to work ten hours and more.... From now on
all that will be changed. The Government intends to put the
telephones under control of the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs.
Your wages will be immediately raised to one hundred and fifty
rubles, and your working-hours reduced. As members of the
working-class you should be happy--"
Members of the _working-class_ indeed! Did he mean to infer that
there was anything in common between these-these animals-and _us?_
Remain? Not if they offered a thousand rubles!... Haughty and spiteful
the girls left the place....
The employees of the building, the line-men and labourers-they
stayed. But the switch-boards must be operated-the telephone was
vital.... Only half a dozen trained operators were available.
Volunteers were called for; a hundred responded, sailors, soldiers,
workers. The six girls scurried backward and forward, instructing,
helping, scolding.... So, crippled, halting, but _going,_ the wires
slowly began to hum. The first thing was to connect Smolny with the
barracks and the factories; the second, to cut off the Duma and the
_yunker_ schools.... Late in the afternoon word of it spread through
the city, and hundreds of bourgeois called up to scream, "Fools!
Devils! How long do you think you will last? Wait till the Cossacks
Dusk was already falling. On the almost deserted Nevsky, swept by a
bitter wind, a crowd had gathered before the Kazan Cathedral,
continuing the endless debate; a few workmen, some soldiers and the
rest shop-keepers, clerks and the like.
"But Lenin won't get Germany to make peace!" cried one.
A violent young soldier replied. "And whose fault is it? Your damn
Kerensky, dirty bourgeois! To hell with Kerensky! We don't want him!
We want Lenin...."
Outside the Duma an officer with a white arm-band was tearing down
posters from the wall, swearing loudly. One read:
To the Population of Petrograd!
At this dangerous hour, when the Municipal Duma ought to use every
means to calm the population, to assure it bread and other
necessities, the Right Socialist Revolutionaries and the Cadets,
forgetting their duty, have turned the Duma into a
counter-revolutionary meeting, trying to raise part of the
population against the rest, so as to facilitate the victory of
Kornilov-Kerensky. Instead of doing their duty, the Right Socialist
Revolutionaries and the Cadets have transformed the Duma into an
arena of political attack upon the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers'
and Peasants' Deputies, against the revolutionary Government of
peace, bread and liberty.
Citizens of Petrograd, we, the Bolshevik Municipal Councillors
elected by you-we want you to know that the Right Socialist
Revolutionaries and the Cadets are engaged in counter-revolutionary
action, have forgotten their duty, and are leading the population to
famine, to civil war. We, elected by 183,000 votes, consider it our
duty to bring to the attention of our constituents what is going on
in the Duma, and declare that we disclaim all responsibility for the
terrible but inevitable consequences....
Far away still sounded occasional shots, but the city lay quiet,
cold, as if exhausted by the violent spasms which had torn it.
In the Nicolai Hall the Duma session was coming to an end. Even the
truculent Duma seemed a little stunned. One after another the
Commissars reported-capture of the Telephone Exchange,
street-fighting, the taking of the Vladimir school.... "The Duma,"
said Trupp, "is on the side of the democracy in its struggle against
arbitrary violence; but in any case, whichever side wins, the Duma
will always be against lynchings and torture...."
Konovski, Cadet, a tall old man with a cruel face: "When the troops
of the legal Government arrive in Petrograd, they will shoot down
these insurgents, and that will not be lynching!" Protests all over
the hall, even from his own party.
Here there was doubt and depression. The counter-revolution was
being put down. The Central Committee of the Socialist Revolutionary
party had voted lack of confidence in its officers; the left wing
was in control; Avksentiev had resigned. signed. A courier reported
that the Committee of Welcome sent to meet Kerensky at the railway
station had been arrested. In the streets could be heard the dull
rumble of distant cannonading, south and southwest. Still Kerensky
did not come...
Only three newspapers were out-_Pravda, Dielo Naroda_ and _Novaya
Zhizn._ All of them devoted much space to the new "coalition"
Government. The Socialist Revolutionary paper demanded a Cabinet
without either Cadets or Bolsheviki. Gorky was hopeful; Smolny had
made concessions. A purely Socialist Government was taking shape-all
elements except the bourgeoisie. As for _Pravda,_ it sneered:
We ridicule these coalitions with political parties whose most
prominent members are petty journalists of doubtful reputation; our
"coalition" is that of the proletariat and the revolutionary Army
with the poor peasants...
On the walls a vainglorious announcement of the _Vikzhel,_
threatening to strike if both sides did not compromise:
The conquerors of these riots, the saviours of the wreck of our
country, these will be neither the Bolsheviki, nor the Committee for
Salvation, nor the troops of Kerensky-but we, the Union of
Red Guards are incapable of handling a complicated business like the
railways; as for the Provisional Government, it has shown itself
incapable of holding the power...
We refuse to lend our services to any party which does not act by
authority of ... a Government based on the confidence of all the
Smolny thrilled with the boundless vitality of inexhaustible
humanity in action.
In Trade Union headquarters Lozovsky introduced me to a delegate of
the Railway Workers of the Nicolai line, who said that the men were
holding huge mass-meetings, condemning the action of their leaders.
"All power to the Soviets!" he cried, pounding on the table.
"The_oborontsi_ in the Central Committee are playing
Ko&rgrave;nilov's game. They tried to send a mission to the Stavka,
but we arrested them at Minsk.... Our branch has demanded an
All-Russian Convention, and they refuse to call it...."
The same situation as in the Soviets, the Army Committees. One after
another the various democratic organisations, all over Russia, were
cracking and changing. The Cooperatives were torn by internal
struggles; the meetings of the Peasants' Executive broke up in
stormy wrangling; even among the Cossacks there was trouble....
On the top floor the Military Revolutionary Committee was in full
blast, striking and slacking not. Men went in, fresh and vigorous;
night and day and night and day they threw themselves into the
terrible machine; and came out limp, blind with fatigue, hoarse and
filthy, to fall on the floor and sleep.... The Committee for Salvation
had been outlawed. Great piles of new proclamations (See App. VIII,
Sect. 2) littered the floor:
... The conspirators, who have no support among the garrison or the
working-class, above all counted on the suddenness of their attack.
Their plan was discovered in time by Sub-Lieutenant Blagonravov,
thanks to the revolutionary vigilance of a soldier of the Red Guard,
whose name shall be made public. At the centre of the plot was the
Committee for Salvation. Colonel Polkovnikov was in command of their
forces, and the orders were signed by Gotz, former member of the
Provisional Government, allowed at liberty on his word of honour....
Bringing these facts to the attention of the Petrograd population,
the Military Revolutionary Committee orders the arrest of all
concerned in the conspiracy, who shall be tried before the
From Moscow, word that the _yunkers_ and Cossacks had surrounded the
Kremlin and ordered the Soviet troops to lay down their arms. The
Soviet forces complied, and as they were leaving the Kremlin, were
set upon and shot down. Small forces of Bolsheviki had been driven
from the Telephone and Telegraph offices; the _yunkers_ now held the
centre of the city. ... But all around them the Soviet troops were
mustering. Street-fighting was slowly gathering way; all attempts at
compromise had failed.... On the side of the Soviet, ten thousand
garrison soldiers and a few Red Guards; on the side of the
Government, six thousand _yunkers,_ twenty-five hundred Cossacks and
two thousand White Guards.
The Petrograd Soviet was meeting, and next door the new
_Tsay-ee-kah,_ acting on the decrees and orders (See App. VIII,
Sect. 3) which came down in a steady stream from the Council of
People's Commissars in session upstairs; on the Order in Which Laws
Are to be Ratified and Published, Establishing an Eight hour Days
for Workers, and Lunatcharsky's "Basis for a System of Popular
Education." Only a few hundred people were present at the two
meetings, most of them armed. Smolny was almost deserted, except for
the guards, who were busy at the hall windows, setting up
machine-guns to command the flanks of the building.
In the _Tsay-ee-kah_ a delegate of the _Vikzhel_ was speaking: "We
refuse to transport the troops of either party.... We have sent a
committee to Kerensky to say that if he continues to march on
Petrograd we will break his lines of communication...."
He made the usual plea for a conference of all the Socialist parties
to form a new Government....
Kameniev answered discreetly. The Bolsheviki would be very glad to
attend the conference. The centre of gravity, however, lay not in
composition of such a Government, but in its acceptance of the
programme of the Congress of Soviets.
... The _Tsay-ee-kah_ had deliberated on the declaration made by the
Left Socialist Revolutionaries and the Social Democrats
Internationalists, and had accepted the proposition of proportional
representation at the conference, even including delegates from the
Army Committees and the Peasants' Soviets....
In the great hall, Trotzky recounted the events of the day.
"We offered the Vladimir _yunkers_ a chance to surrender," he said.
"We wanted to settle matters without bloodshed. But now that blood
has been spilled there is only one way-pitiless struggle. It would
be childish to think we can win by any other means.... The moment is
decisive. Everybody must cooperate with the Military Revolutionary
Committee, report where there are stores of barbed wire, benzine,
... We've won the power; now we must keep it!"
The Menshevik Yoffe tried to read his party's declaration, but
Trotzky refused to allow "a debate about principle."
"Our debates are now in the streets," he cried. "The decisive step
has been taken. We all, and I in particular, take the responsibility
for what is happening...."
Soldiers from the front, from Gatchina, told their stories. One from
the Death Battalion, Four Hundred Eighty-first Artillery: "When the
trenches hear of this, they will cry, 'This is _our_ Government!'" A
_yunker_ from Peterhof said that he and two others had refused to
march against the Soviets; and when his comrades had returned from
the defence of the Winter Palace they appointed him their Commissar,
to go to Smolny and offer their services to the _real_ Revolution....
Then Trotzky again, fiery, indefatigable, giving orders, answering
"The petty bourgeoisie, in order to defeat the workers, soldiers and
peasants, would combine with the devil himself!" he said once. Many
cases of drunkenness had been remarked the last two days. "No
drinking, comrades! No one must be on the streets after eight in the
evening, except the regular guards. All places suspected of having
stores of liquor should be searched, and the liquor destroyed. (See
App. VIII, Sect. 4) No mercy to the sellers of liquor...."
The Military Revolutionary Committee sent for the delegation from
the Viborg section; then for the members from Putilov. They clumped
"For each revolutionist killed," said Trotzky, "we shall kill five
Down-town again. The Duma brilliantly illuminated and great crowds
pouring in. In the lower hall wailing and cries of grief; the throng
surged back and forth before the bulletin board, where was posted a
list of _yunkers_ killed in the day's fighting-or supposed to be
killed, for most of the dead afterward turned up safe and sound.... Up
in the Alexander Hall the Committee for Salvation held forth. The
gold and red epaulettes of officers were conspicuous, the familiar
faces of the Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary intellectuals,
the hard eyes and bulky magnificence of bankers and diplomats,
officials of the old régime, and well-dressed women....
The telephone girls were testifying. Girl after girl came to the
tribune-over-dressed, fashion-aping little girls, with pinched faces
and leaky shoes. Girl after girl, flushing with pleasure at the
applause of the "nice" people of Petrograd, of the officers, the
rich, the great names of politics-girl after girl, to narrate her
sufferings at the hands of the proletariat, and proclaim her loyalty
to all that was old, established and powerful....
The Duma was again in session in the Nicolai Hall. The Mayor said
hopefully that the Petrograd regiments were ashamed of their
actions; propaganda was making headway.
[Graphic page-205 Proclamation for "wine pogroms" ]
Revolutionary law and order. A proclamation of the Finland Regiment,
in December, 1917, announcing desperate remedies for "wine pogroms."
For translation see Appendix 5.
... Emissaries came and went, reporting horrible deeds by the
Bolsheviki, interceding to save the _yunkers,_ busily investigating....
"The Bolsheviki," said Trupp, "will be conquered by moral force, and
not by bayonets....."
Meanwhile all was not well on the revolutionary front. The enemy had
brought up armoured trains, mounted with cannon. The Soviet forces,
mostly raw Red Guards, were without officers and without a definite
plan. Only five thousand regular soldiers had joined them; the rest
of the garrison was either busy suppressing the _yunker_ revolt,
guarding the city, or undecided what to do. At ten in the evening
Lenin addressed a meeting of delegates from the city regiments, who
voted overwhelmingly to fight. A Committee of five soldiers was
elected to serve as General Staff, and in the small hours of the
morning the regiments left their barracks in full battle array....
Going home I saw them pass, swinging along with the regular tread of
veterans, bayonets in perfect alignment, through the deserted
streets of the conquered city....
At the same time, in the headquarters of the _Vikzhel_ down on the
Sadovaya, the conference of all the Socialist parties to form a new
Government was under way. Abramovitch, for the centre Mensheviki,
said that there should be neither conquerors nor conquered-that
bygones should be bygones. ...In this were agreed all the left wing
parties. Dan, speaking in the name of the right Mensheviki, proposed
to the Bolsheviki the following conditions for a truce: The Red
Guard to be disarmed, and the Petrograd garrison to be placed at the
orders of the Duma; the troops of Kerensky not to fire a single shot
or arrest a single man; a Ministry of all the Socialist parties
_except the Bolsheviki._ For Smolny Riazanov and Kameniev declared
that a coalition ministry of all parties was acceptable, but
protested at Dan's proposals. The Socialist Revolutionaries were
divided; but the Executive Committee of the Peasants's Soviets and
the Populist Socialists flatly refused to admit the Bolsheviki....
After bitter quarrelling a commission was elected to draw up a
All that night the commission wrangled, and all the next day, and
the next night. Once before, on the 9th of November, there had been
a similar effort at conciliation, led by Martov and Gorky; but at
the approach of Kerensky and the activity of the Committee for
Salvation, the right wing of the Mensheviki, Socialist
Revolutionaries and Populist Socialists suddenly withdrew. Now they
were awed by the crushing of the _yunker_ rebellion...
Monday the 12th was a day of suspense. The eyes of all Russia were
fixed on the grey plain beyond the gates of Petrograd, where all the
available strength of the old order faced the unorganised power of
the new, the unknown. In Moscow a truce had been declared; both
sides parleyed, awaiting the result in the capital. Now the
delegates to the Congress of Soviets, hurrying on speeding trains to
the farthest reaches of Asia, were coming to their homes, carrying
the fiery cross. In wide-spreading ripples news of the miracle
spread over the face of the land, and in its wake towns, cities and
far villages stirred and broke, Soviets and Military Revolutionary
Committees against Dumas, Zemstvos and Government Commissars-Red
Guards against White-street fighting and passionate speech.... The
result waited on the word from Petrograd....
Smolny was almost empty, but the Duma was thronged and noisy. The
old Mayor, in his dignified way, was protesting against the Appeal
of the Bolshevik Councillors.
"The Duma is not a centre of counter-revolution," he said, warmly.
"The Duma takes no part in the present struggle between the parties.
But at a time when there is no legal power in the land, the only
centre of order is the Municipal Self-Government. The peaceful
population recognises this fact; the foreign Embassies recognise
only such documents as are signed by the Mayor of the town. The mind
of a European does not admit of any other situation, as the
Municipal self-government is the only organ which is capable of
protecting the interests of the citizens. The City is bound to show
hospitality, to all organisations which desire to profit by such
hospitality, and therefore the Duma cannot prevent the distribution
of any newspapers whatever within the Duma building. The sphere of
our work is increasing, and we must be given full liberty of action,
and our rights must be respected by both parties....
"We are perfectly neutral. When the Telephone Exchange was occupied
by the _yunkers_ Colonel Polkovnikov ordered the telephones to
Smolny disconnected, but I protested, and the telephones were kept