Ten Days That Shook the World
Part 5 out of 8
At this there was ironic laughter from the Bolshevik benches, and
imprecations from the right.
"And yet," went on Schreider, "they look upon us as
counter-revolutionaries and report us to the population. They
deprive us of our means of transport by taking away our last
motor-cars. It will not be our fault if there is famine in the town.
Protests are of no use...."
Kobozev, Bolshevik member of the Town Board, was doubtful whether
the Military Revolutionary Committee had requisitioned the Municipal
automobiles. Even granting the fact, it was probably done by some
unauthorised individual, in the emergency.
"The Mayor," he continued, "tells us that we must not make political
meetings out of the Duma. But every Menshevik and Socialist
Revolutionary here talks nothing but party propaganda, and at the
door they distribute their illegal newspapers, _Iskri_ (Sparks),
_Soldatski Golos_ and _Rabotchaya Gazeta,_ inciting to insurrection.
What if we Bolsheviki should also begin to distribute our papers
here? But this shall not be, for we respect the Duma. We have not
attacked the Municipal Self-Government, and we shall not do so. But
you have addressed an Appeal to the population, and we are entitled
also to do so....
Followed him Shingariov, Cadet, who said that there could be no
common language with those who were liable to be brought before the
Attorney General for indictment, and who must be tried on the charge
of treason.... He proposed again that all Bolshevik members should be
expelled from the Duma. This was tabled, however, for there were no
personal charges against the members, and they were active in the
Then two Mensheviki Internationalists, declaring that the Appeal of
the Bolshevik Councillors was a direct incitement to massacre. "If
everything that is against the Bolsheviki is counter-revolutionary,"
said Pinkevitch, "then I do not know the difference between
revolution and anarchy.... The Bolsheviki are depending upon the
passions of the unbridled masses; we have nothing but moral force.
We will protest against massacres and violence from both sides, as
our task is to find a peaceful issue."
"The notice posted in the streets under the heading 'To the
Pillory,' which calls upon the people to destroy the Mensheviki and
Socialist Revolutionaries," said Nazariev, "is a crime which you,
Bolsheviki, will not be able to wash away. Yesterday's horrors are
but a preface to what you are preparing by such a proclamation.... I
have always tried to reconcile you with the other parties, but at
present I feel for you nothing but contempt!"
The Bolshevik Councillors were on their feet, shouting angrily,
assailed by hoarse, hateful voices and waving arms....
Outside the hall I ran into the City Engineer, the Menshevik Gomberg
and three or four reporters. They were all in high spirits.
"See!" they said. "The cowards are afraid of us. They don't dare
arrest the Duma! Their Military Revolutionary Committee doesn't dare
to send a Commissar into this building. Why, on the corner of the
Sadovaya to-day, I saw a Red Guard try to stop a boy selling
_Soldatski Golos_.... The boy just laughed at him, and a crowd of
people wanted to lynch the bandit. It's only a few hours more, now.
Even if Kerensky wouldn't come they haven't the men to run a
Government. Absurd! I understand they're even fighting among
themselves at Smolny!"
A Socialist Revolutionary friend of mine drew me aside. "I know
where the Committee for Salvation is hiding," he said. "Do you want
to go and talk with them?"
By this time it was dusk. The city had again settled down to
normal-shop-shutters up, lights shining, and on the streets great
crowds of people slowly moving up and down and arguing....
At Number 86 Nevsky we went through a passage into a courtyard,
surrounded by tall apartment buildings. At the door of apartment 229
my friend knocked in a peculiar way. There was a sound of scuffling;
an inside door slammed; then the front door opened a crack and a
woman's face appeared. After a minute's observation she led us in-a
placid-looking, middle-aged lady who at once cried, "Kyril, it's all
right!" In the dining-room, where a samovar steamed on the table and
there were plates full of bread and raw fish, a man in uniform
emerged from behind the window-curtains, and another, dressed like a
workman, from a closet. They were delighted to meet an American
reporter. With a certain amount of gusto both said that they would
certainly be shot if the Bolsheviki caught them. They would not give
me their names, but both were Socialist Revolutionaries....
"Why," I asked, "do you publish such lies in your newspapers?"
Without taking offence the officer replied, "Yes, I know; but what
can we do?" He shrugged. "You must admit that it is necessary for us
to create a certain frame of mind in the people...."
The other man interrupted. "This is merely an adventure on the part
of the Bolsheviki. They have no intellectuals. ... The Ministries
won't work.... Russia is not a city, but a whole country.... Realising
that they can only last a few days, we have decided to come to the
aid of the strongest force opposed to them-Kerensky-and help to
"That is all very well," I said. "But why do you combine with the
The pseudo-workman smiled frankly. "To tell you the truth, at this
moment the masses of the people are following the Bolsheviki. We
have no following-now. We can't mobilise a handful of soldiers.
There are no arms available.... The Bolsheviki are right to a certain
extent; there are at this moment in Russia only two parties with any
force-the Bolsheviki and the reactionaries, who are all hiding under
the coat-tails of the Cadets. The Cadets think they are using us;
but it is really we who are using the Cadets. When we smash the
Bolsheviki we shall turn against the Cadets...."
"Will the Bolsheviki be admitted into the new Government?"
He scratched his head. "That's a problem," he admitted. "Of course
if they are not admitted, they'sll probably do this all over again.
At any rate, they will have a chance to hold the balance of power in
the Constituent-that is, if there _is_ a Constituent."
"And then, too," said the officer, "that brings up the question of
admitting the Cadets into the new Government-and for the same
reasons. You know the Cadets do not really want the Constituent
Assembly-not if the Bolsheviki can be destroyed now." He shook his
head. "It is not easy for us Russians, politics. You Americans are
born politicians; you have had politics all your lives. But for
us-well, it has only been a year, you know!"
"What do you think of Kerensky?" I asked.
"Oh, Kerensky is guilty of the sins of the Provisional Government,"
answered the other man. "Kerensky himself forced us to accept
coalition with the bourgeoisie. If he had resigned, as he
threatened, it would have meant a new Cabinet crisis only sixteen
weeks before the Constituent Assembly, and that we wanted to avoid."
"But didn't it amount to that anyway?"
"Yes, but how were we to know? They tricked us-the Kerenskys and
Avksentievs. Gotz is a little more radical. I stand with Tchernov,
who is a real revolutionist.... Why, only to-day Lenin sent word that
he would not object to Tchernov entering the Government.
"We wanted to get rid of the Kerensky Government too, but we thought
it better to wait for the Constituent.... At the beginning of this
affair I was with the Bolsheviki, but the Central Committee of my
party voted unanimously against it-and what could I do? It was a
matter of party discipline....
"In a week the Bolshevik Government will go to pieces; if the
Socialist Revolutionaries could only stand aside and wait, the
Government would fall into their hands. But if we wait a week the
country will be so disorganised that the German imperialists will be
victorious. That is why we began our revolt with only two regiments
of soldiers promising to support us-and they turned against us....
That left only the _yunkers_...."
"How about the Cossacks?"
The officer sighed. "They did not move. At first they said they
would come out if they had infantry support. They said moreover that
they had their men with Kerensky, and that they were doing their
part.... Then, too, they said that the Cossacks were always accused of
being the hereditary enemies of democracy.... And finally, 'The
Bolsheviki promise that they will not take away our land. There is
no danger to us. We remain neutral.'"
During this talk people were constantly entering and leaving-most of
them officers, their shoulder-straps torn off. We could see them in
the hall, and hear their low, vehement voices. Occasionally, through
the half-drawn portières, we caught a glimpse of a door opening into
a bath-room, where a heavily-built officer in a colonel's uniform
sat on the toilet, writing something on a pad held in his lap. I
recognised Colonel Polkovnikov, former commandant of Petrograd, for
whose arrest the Military Revolutionary Committee would have paid a
"Our programme?" said the officer. "This is it. Land to be turned
over to the Land Committees. Workmen to have full representation in
the control of industry. An energetic peace programme, but not an
ultimatum to the world such as the Bolsheviki issued. The Bolsheviki
cannot keep their promises to the masses, even in the country
itself. We won't let them.... They stole our land programme in order
to get the support of the peasants. That is dishonest. If they had
waited for the Constituent Assembly-"
"It doesn't matter about the Constituent Assembly!" broke in the
officer. "If the Bolsheviki want to establish a Socialist state
here, we cannot work with them in any event! Kerensky made the great
mistake. He let the Bolsheviki know what he was going to do by
announcing in the Council of the Republic that he had ordered their
"But what," I said, "do you intend to do now?"
The two men looked at one another. "You will see in a few days. If
there are enough troops from the front on our side, we shall not
compromise with the Bolsheviki. If not, perhaps we shall be forced
Out again on the Nevsky we swung on the step of a streetcar bulging
with people, its platforms bent down from the weight and scraping
along the ground, which crawled with agonising slowness the long
miles to Smolny.
Meshkovsky, a neat, frail little man, was coming down the hall,
looking worried. The strikes in the Ministries, he told us, were
having their effect. For instance, the Council of People's
Commissars had promised to publish the Secret Treaties; but Neratov,
the functionary in charge, had disappeared, taking the documents
with him. They were supposed to be hidden in the British Embassy....
Worst of all, however, was the strike in the banks. "Without money,"
said Menzhinsky, "we are helpless. The wages of the railroad men, of
the postal and telegraph employees, must be paid.... The banks are
closed; and the key to the situation, the State Bank, is also shut.
All the bank-clerks in Russia have been bribed to stop work....
"But Lenin has issued an order to dynamite the State Bank vaults,
and there is a Decree just out, ordering the private banks to open
to-morrow, or we will open them ourselves!"
The Petrograd Soviet was in full swing, thronged with armed men,
"The Cossacks are falling back from Krasnoye Selo." (Sharp, exultant
cheering.) "But the battle is only beginning. At Pulkovo heavy
fighting is going on. All available forces must be hurried there....
"From Moscow, bad news. The Kremlin is in the hands of the
_yunkers,_ and the workers have only a few arms. The result depends
"At the front, the decrees on Peace and Land are provoking great
enthusiasm. Kerensky is flooding the trenches with tales of
Petrograd burning and bloody, of women and children massacred by the
Bolsheviki. But no one believes him....
"The cruisers _Oleg, Avrora_ and _Respublica_ are anchored in the
Neva, their guns trained on the approaches to the city...."
"Why aren't you out there with the Red Guards?" shouted a rough
"I'm going now!" answered Trotzky, and left the platform. His face a
little paler than usual, he passed down the side of the room, e room, | |
surrounded by eager friends, and hurried out to the waiting
Kameniev now spoke, describing the proceedings of the reconciliation
conference. The armistice conditions proposed by the Mensheviki, he
said, had been contemptuously rejected. Even the branches of the
Railwaymen's Union had voted against such a proposition....
"Now that we've won the power and are sweeping all Russia," he
declared, "all they ask of us are three little things: 1. To
surrender the power. 2. To make the soldiers continue the war. 3. To
make the peasants forget about the land...."
Lenin appeared for a moment, to answer the accusations of the
"They charge us with stealing their land programme.... If that is so,
we bow to them. It is good enough for us...."
So the meeting roared on, leader after leader explaining, exhorting,
arguing, soldier after soldier, workman after workman, standing up
to speak his mind and his heart.... The audience flowed, changing and
renewed continually. From time to time men came in, yelling for the
members of such and such a detachment, to go to the front; others,
relieved, wounded, or coming to Smolny for arms and equipment,
It was almost three o'clock in the morning when, as we left the
hall, Holtzman, of the Military Revolutionary Committee, came
running down the hall with a transfigured face.
"It's all right!" he shouted, grabbing my hands. "Telegram from the
front. Kerensky is smashed! Look at this!"
He held out a sheet of paper, scribbled hurriedly in pencil, and
then, seeing we couldn't read it, he declaimed aloud:
Pulkovo. Staff. 2.10 A.M.
The night of October 30th to 31st will go down in history. The
attempt of Kerensky to move counter-revolutionary troops against the
capital of the Revolution has been decisively repulsed. Kerensky is
retreating, we are advancing. The soldiers, sailors and workers of
Petrograd have shown that they can and will with arms in their hands
enforce the will and authority of the democracy. The bourgeoisie
tried to isolate the revolutionary army. Kerensky attempted to break
it by the force of the Cossacks. Both plans met a pitiful defeat.
The grand idea of the domination of the worker and peasant democracy
closed the ranks of the army and hardened its will. All the country
from now on will be convinced that the Power of the Soviets is no
ephemeral thing, but an invincible fact.... The repulse of Kerensky is
the repulse of the land-owners, the bourgeoisie and the Kornilovists
in general. The repulse of Kerensky is the confirmation of the right
of the people to a peaceful free life, to land, bread and power. The
Pulkovo detachment by its valorous blow has strengthened the cause
of the Workers' and Peasants's Revolution. There is no return to the
past. Before us are struggles, obstacles and sacrifices. But the
road is clear and victory is certain.
Revolutionary Russia and the Soviet Power can be proud of their
Pulkovo detachment, acting under the command of Colonel Walden.
Eternal memory to those who fell! Glory to the warriors of the
Revolution, the soldiers and the officers who were faithful to the
Long live revolutionary, popular, Socialist Russia!
In the name of the Council,
L. TROTZKY, People's Commissar....
Driving home across Znamensky Square, we made out an unusual crowd
in front of the Nicolai Railway Station. Several thousand sailors
were massed there, bristling with rifles.
Standing on the steps, a member of the _Vikzhel_ was pleading with
"Comrades, we cannot carry you to Moscow. We are neutral. We do not
carry troops for either side. We cannot take you to Moscow, where
already there is terrible civil war...."
All the seething Square roared at him; the sailors began to surge
forward. Suddenly another door was flung wide; in it stood two or
three brakeman, a fireman or so.
"This way, comrades!" cried one. "We will take you to Moscow-or
Vladivostok, if you like! Long live the Revolution!"
_Order Number I_
To the Troops of the Pulkovo Detachment.
November 13, 1917. 38 minutes past 9 a. m.
After a cruel fight the troops of the Pulkovo detachment completely
routed the counter-revolutionary forces, who retreated from their
positions in disorder, and under cover of Tsarskoye Selo fell back
toward Pavlovsk II and Gatchina.
Our advanced units occupied the northeastern extremity of Tsarskoye
Selo and the station Alexandrovskaya. The Colpinno detachment was on
our left, the Krasnoye Selo detachment to our right.
I ordered the Pulkovo forces to occupy Tsarskoye Selo, to fortify
its approaches, especially on the side of Gatchina.
Also to pass and occupy Pavlovskoye, fortifying its southern side,
and to take up the railroad as far as Dno.
The troops must take all measures to strengthen the positions
occupied by them, arranging trenches and other defensive works.
They must enter into close liaison with the detachments of Colpinno
and Krasnoye Selo, and also with the Staff of the Commander in Chief
for the Defence of Petrograd.
_Commander in Chief aver all Forces acting against the
Counter-revolutionary Troops of Kerensky,_
Tuesday morning. But how is this? Only two days ago the Petrograd
campagna was full of leaderless bands, wandering aimlessly; without
food, without artillery, without a plan. What had fused that
disorganised mass of undisciplined Red Guards, and soldiers without
officers, into an army obedient to its own elected high command,
tempered to meet and break the assault of cannon and Cossack
cavalry? (See App. IX, Sect. 1)
People in revolt have a way of defying military precedent. The
ragged armies of the French Revolution are not forgotten-Valmy and
the Lines of Weissembourg. Massed against the Soviet forces were
_yunkers,_ Cossacks, land-owners, nobility, Black Hundreds-the Tsar
come again, _Okhrana_ and Siberian chains; and the vast and terrible
menace of the Germans.... Victory, in the words of Carlyle, meant
"Apotheosis and Millennium without end!"
Sunday night, the Commissars of the Military Revolutionary Committee
returning desperately from the field, the garrison of Petrograd
elected its Committee of Five, its Battle Staff, three soldiers and
two officers, all certified free from counter-revolutionary taint.
Colonel Muraviov, ex-patriot, was in command-an efficient man, but
to be carefully watched. At Colpinno, at Obukhovo, at Pulkovo and
Krasnoye Selo were formed provisional detachments, increased in size
as the stragglers came in from the surrounding country-mixed
soldiers, sailors and Red Guards, parts of regiments, infantry,
cavalry and artillery all together, and a few armoured cars.
Day broke, and the pickets of Kerensky's Cossacks came in touch.
Scattered rifle-fire, summons to surrender. Over the bleak plain on
the cold quiet air spread the sound of battle, falling upon the ears
of roving bands as they gathered about their little fires, waiting....
So it was beginning! They made toward the battle; and the worker
hordes pouring out along the straight roads quickened their pace....
Thus upon all the points of attack automatically converged angry
human swarms, to be met by Commissars and assigned positions, or
work to do. This was _their_ battle, for _their_ world; the officers
in command were elected by _them._ For the moment that incoherent
multiple will was one will....
Those who participated in the fighting described to me how the
sailors fought until they ran out of cartridges, and then stormed;
how the untrained workmen rushed the charging Cossacks and tore them
from their horses; how the anonymous hordes of the people, gathering
in the darkness around the battle, rose like a tide and poured over
the enemy.... Before midnight of Monday the Cossacks broke and were
fleeing, leaving their artillery behind them, and the army of the
proletariat, on a long ragged front, moved forward and rolled into
Tsarskoye, before the enemy had a chance to destroy the great
Government wireless station, from which now the Commissars of Smolny
were hurling out to the world paeans of triumph....
TO ALL SOVIETS OF WORKERS' AND SOLDIERS' DEPUTIES
The 12th of November, in a bloody combat near Tsarskoye Selo, the
revolutionary army defeated the counter-revolutionary troops of
Kerensky and Kornilov. In the name of the Revolutionary Government I
order all regiments to take the offensive against the enemies of the
revolutionary democracy, and to take all measures to arrest
Kerensky, and also to oppose any adventure which might menace the
conquests of the Revolution and the victory of the proletariat.
Long live the Revolutionary Army!
News from the provinces....
At Sevastopol the local Soviet had assumed the power; a huge meeting
of the sailors on the battleships in the harbour had forced their
officers to line up and swear allegiance to the new Government. At
Nizhni Novgorod the Soviet was in control. From Kazan came reports
of a battle in the streets, _yunkers_ and a brigade of artillery
against the Bolshevik garrison....
Desperate fighting had broken out again in Moscow. The _yunkers_ and
White Guards held the Kremlin and the centre of the town, beaten
upon from all sides by the troops of the Military Revolutionary
Committee. The Soviet artillery was stationed in Skobeliev Square,
bombarding the City Duma building, the Prefecture and the Hotel
Metropole. The cobblestones of the Tverskaya and Nikitskaya had been
torn up for trenches and barricades. A hail of machine-gun fire
swept the quarters of the great banks and commercial houses. There
were no lights, no telephones; the bourgeois population lived in the
cellars.... The last bulletin said that the Military Revolutionary
Committee had delivered an ultimatum to the Committee of Public
Safety, demanding the immediate surrender of the Kremlin, or
bombardment would follow.
"Bombard the Kremlin?" cried the ordinary citizen. "They dare not!"
From Vologda to Chita in far Siberia, from Pskov to Sevastopol on
the Black Sea, in great cities and little villages, civil war burst
into flame. From thousands of factories, peasant communes, regiments
and armies, ships on the wide sea, greetings poured into
Petrograd-greetings to the Government of the People.
The Cossack Government at Novotcherkask telegraphed to Kerensky,
_"The Government of the Cossack troops invites the Provisional
Government and the members of the Council of the Republic to come,
if possible, to Novotcherkask, where we can organise in common the
struggle against the Bolsheviki."_
In Finland, also, things were stirring. The Soviet of Helsingfors
and the _Tsentrobalt_ (Central Committee of the Baltic Fleet),
jointly proclaimed a state of siege, and declared that all attempts
to interfere with the Bolshevik forces, and all armed resistance to
its orders, would be severely repressed. At the same time the
Finnish Railway Union called a countrywide general strike, to put
into operation the laws passed by the Socialist Diet of June, 1917,
dissolved by Kerensky....
Early in the morning I went out to Smolny. Going up the long wooden
sidewalk from the outer gate I saw the first thin, hesitating
snow-flakes fluttering down from the grey, windless sky. "Snow!"
cried the soldier at the door, grinning with delight. "Good for the
health!" Inside, the long, gloomy halls and bleak rooms seemed
deserted. No one moved in all the enormous pile. A deep, uneasy
sound came to my ears, and looking around, I noticed that everywhere
on the floor, along the walls, men were sleeping. Rough, dirty men,
workers and soldiers, spattered and caked with mud, sprawled alone
or in heaps, in the careless attitudes of death. Some wore ragged
bandages marked with blood. Guns and cartridge-belts were scattered
about.... The victorious proletarian army!
In the upstairs buffet so thick they lay that one could hardly walk.
The air was foul. Through the clouded windows a pale light streamed.
A battered samovar, cold, stood on the counter, and many glasses
holding dregs of tea. Beside them lay a copy of the Military
Revolutionary Committee's last bulletin, upside down, scrawled with
painful hand-writing. It was a memorial written by some soldier to
his comrades fallen in the fight against Kerensky, just as he had
set it down before falling on the floor to sleep. The writing was
blurred with what looked like tears....
These men were drafted into the Army on November 15th, 1916. Only
three are left of the above.
_Sleep, Warrior eagles, sleep with peaceful soul._
_You have deserved, our own ones, happiness and_
_Eternal peace. Under the earth of the grave_
_You have straitly closed your ranks. Sleep, Citizens!_
Only the Military Revolutionary Committee still functioned,
unsleeping. Skripnik, emerging from the inner room, said that Gotz
had been arrested, but had flatly denied signing the proclamation of
the Committee for Salvation, as had Avksentiev; and the Committee
for Salvation itself had repudiated the Appeal to the garrison.
There was still disafiection among the city regiments, Skripnik
reported; the Volhynsky Regiment had refused to fight against
Several detachments of "neutral" troops, with Tchernov at their
head, were at Gatchina, trying to persuade Kerensky to halt his
attack on Petrograd.
Skripnik laughed. "There can be no 'neutrals' now," he said. "We've
won!" His sharp, bearded face glowed with an almost religious
exaltation. "More than sixty delegates have arrived from the Front,
with assurances of support by all the armies except the troops on
the Rumanian front, who have not been heard from. The Army
Committees have suppressed all news from Petrograd, but we now have
a regular system of couriers...."
[Graphic page-224 Certificate approving telegram transmission]
Order given me at Staff headquarters by command of the Council of
People's Commissars, to transmit the first despatch out of Perograd
after the November Revolution, over the Government wires to America.
Sov. W. & S. D.
2 November, 1917
Is given by the present to the journalist of
the New York Socialist press JOHN REED, that the text of the
telegram (herewith) has been examined by the Government of People's
Commissars, and there is no objection to its transmission, and also
it is recommended that all cooperate in every way to transmit same
to its destination.
For the Commander in Chief, ANTONOV
Chief of Staff, VLAD. BONCH-BRUEVITCH
Down in the front hall Kameniev was just entering, worn out by the
all-night session of the Conference to Form a New Government, but
happy. "Already the Socialist Revolutionaries are inclined to admit
us into the new Government," he told me. "The right wing groups are
frightened by the Revolutionary Tribunals; they demand, in a sort of
panic, that we dissolve them before going any further. ... We have
accepted the proposition of the _Vikzhel_ to form a homogeneous
Socialist Ministry, and they're working on that now. You see, it all
springs from our victory. When we were down, they would't have us at
any price; not everybody's in favour of some agreement with the
Soivets.... What we need is a really decisive victory. Kerensky wants
an armistice, but he'll have to surrender (See App. IX, Sect. 2) ...."
That was the temper of the Bolshevik leaders. To a foreign
journalist who asked Trotzky what statement he had to make to the
world, Trotzky replied: "At this moment the only statement possible
is the one we are making through the mouths of our cannon!"
But there was an undercurrent of real anxiety in the tide of
victory; the question of finances. Instead of opening the banks, as
had been ordered by the Military Revolutionary Committee, the Union
of Bank Employees had held a meeting and declared a formal strike.
Smolny had demanded some thirty-five millions of rubles from the
State Bank, and the cashier had locked the vaults, only paying out
money to the representatives of the Provisional Government. The
reactionaries were using the State Bank as a political weapon; for
instance, when the _Vikzhel_ demanded money to pay the salaries of
the employees of the Government railroads, it was told to apply to
I went to the State Bank to see the new Commissar, a redhaired
Ukrainean Bolshevik named Petrovitch. He was trying to bring order
out of the chaos in which affairs had been left by the striking
clerks. In all the offices of the huge place perspiring volunteer
workers, soldiers and sailors, their tongues sticking out of their
mouths in the intensity of their effort, were poring over the great
ledgers with a bewildered air....
The Duma building was crowded. There were still isolated cases of
defiance toward the new Government, but they were rare. The Central
Land Committee had appealed to the Peasants, ordering them not to
recognise the Land Decree passed by the Congress of the Soviets,
because it would cause confusion and civil war. Mayor Schreider
announced that because of the Bolshevik insurrection, the elections
to the Constituent Assembly would have to be indefinitely postponed.
Two questions seemed to be uppermost in all minds, shocked by the
ferocity of the civil war; first, a truce to the bloodshed (See App.
IX, Sect. 3)-second, the creation of a new Government. There was no
longer any talk of "destroying the Bolsheviki"-and very little about
excluding them from the Government, except from the Populist
Socialists and the Peasants' Soviets. Even the Central Army
Committee at the _Stavka,_ the most determined enemy of Smolny,
telephoned from Moghilev: "If, to constitute the new Ministry, it is
necessary to come to an understanding with the Bolsheviki, we agree
to admit them _in a minority_ to the Cabinet."
_Pravda,_ ironically calling attention to Kerensky's "humanitarian
sentiments," published his despatch to the Committee for Salvation:
In accord with the proposals of the Committee for Salvation and all
the democratic organisations united around it, I have halted all
military action against the rebels. A delegate of the Committee has
been sent to enter into negotiations. Take all measures to stop the
useless shedding of blood.
The _Vikzhel_ sent a telegram to all Russia:
The Conference of the Union of Railway Workers with the
representatives of both the belligerent parties, who admit the
necessity of an agreement, protest energetically against the use of
political terrorism in the civil war, especially when it is carried
on between different factions of the revolutionary democracy, and
declare that political terrorism, in whatever form, is in
contradiction to the very idea of the negotiations for a new
[Graphic page-227 Leaflet ]
Popular leaflet sold in the streets just after the Bolshevik
insurrection, containing rhymes and jokes about the defeated
bourgeoisie and the "moderate" Socialist leaders, Called, "How THE
BOORZHUI (BOURGEOISIE) LOST THE POWER."
Delegations from the Conference were sent to the Front, to Gatchina.
In the Conference itself everything seemed on the point of final
settlement. It had even been decided to elect a Provisional People's
Council, composed of about four hundred members-seventy-five
representing Smolny, seventy-five the old _Tsay-ee-kah,_ and the
rest split up among the Town Dumas, the Trade Unions, Land
Committees and political parties. Tchernov was mentioned as the new
Premier. Lenin and Trotzky, rumour said, were to be excluded....
About noon I was again in front of Smolny, talking with the driver
of an ambulance bound for the revolutionary front. Could I go with
him? Certainly! He was a volunteer, a University student, and as we
rolled down the street shouted over his shoulder to me phrases of
execrable German: _"Also, gut! Wir nach die Kasernen zu essen
gehen!"_ I made out that there would be lunch at some barracks.
On the Kirotchnaya we turned into an immense courtyard surrounded by
military buildings, and mounted a dark stairway to a low room lit by
one window. At a long wooden table were seated some twenty soldiers,
eating _shtchi_ (cabbage soup) from a great tin wash-tub with wooden
spoons, and talking loudly with much laughter.
"Welcome to the Battalion Committee of the Sixth Reserve Engineers'
Battalion!" cried my friend, and introduced me as an American
Socialist. Whereat every one rose to shake my hand, and one old
soldier put his arms around me and gave me a hearty kiss. A wooden
spoon was produced and I took my place at the table. Another tub,
full of _kasha,_ was brought in, a huge loaf of black bread, and of
course the inevitable tea-pots. At once every one began asking me
questions about America: Was it true that people in a free country
sold their votes for _money?_ If so, how did they get what they
wanted? How about this "Tammany"? Was it true that in a free country
a little group of people could control a whole city, and exploited
it for their personal benefit? Why did the people stand it? Even
under the Tsar such things could not happen in Russia; true, here
there was always graft, but to buy and sell a whole city full of
people! And in a free country! Had the people no revolutionary
feeling? I tried to explain that in my country people tried to
change things by law.
"Of course," nodded a young sergeant, named Baklanov, who spoke
French. "But you have a highly developed capitalist class? Then the
capitalist class must control the legislatures and the courts. How
then can the people change things? I am open to conviction, for I do
not know your country; but to me it is incredible...."
I said that I was going to Tsarskoye Selo. "I, too," said Baklanov,
suddenly. "And I-and I-" The whole roomful decided on the spot to go
to Tsarskoye Selo.
Just then came a knock on the door. It opened, and in it stood the
figure of the Colonel. No one rose, but all shouted a greeting. "May
I come in?" asked the Colonel. "_Prosim! Prosim!_" they answered
heartily. He entered, smiling, a tall, distinguished figure in a
goat-skin cape embroidered with gold. "I think I heard you say that
you were going to Tsarskoye Selo, comrades," he said. "Could I go
Baklanov considered. "I do not think there is anything to be done
here to-day," he answered. "Yes, comrade, we shall be very glad to
have you." The Colonel thanked him and sat down, filling a glass of
In a low voice, for fear of wounding the Colonel's pride, Baklanov
explained to me. "You see, I am the chairman of the Committee. We
control the Battalion absolutely, except in action, when the Colonel
is delegated by us to command. In action his orders must be obeyed,
but he is strictly responsible to us. In barracks he must ask our
permission before taking any action.... You might call him our
Arms were distributed to us, revolvers and rifles-"we might meet
some Cossacks, you know"-and we all piled into the ambulance,
together with three great bundles of newspapers for the front.
Straight down the Liteiny we rattled, and along the Zagorodny
Prospekt. Next to me sat a youth with the shoulder-straps of a
Lieutenant, who seemed to speak all European languages with equal
fluency. He was a member of the Battalion Committee.
"I am not a Bolshevik," he assured me, emphatically. "My family is a
very ancient and noble one. I, myself, am, you might say, a Cadet...."
"But how--?" I began, bewildered.
"Oh, yes, I am a member of the Committee. I make no secret of my
political opinions, but the others do not mind, because they know I
do not believe in opposing the will of the majority.... I have refused
to take any action in the present civil war, however, for I do not
believe in taking up arms against my brother Russians...."
"Provocator! Kornilovitz!" the others cried at him gaily, slapping
him on the shoulder....
Passing under the huge grey stone archway of the Moskovsky Gate,
covered with golden hieroglyphics, ponderous Imperial eagles and the
names of Tsars, we sped out on the wide straight highway, grey with
the first light fall of snow. It was thronged with Red Guards,
stumbling along on foot toward the revolutionary front, shouting and
singing; and others, greyfaced and muddy, coming back. Most of them
seemed to be mere boys. Women with spades, some with rifles and
bandoleers, others wearing the Red Cross on their arm-bands-the
bowed, toil-worm women of the slums. Squads of soldiers marching out
of step, with an affectionate jeer for the Red Guards; sailors,
grim-looking; children with bundles of food for their fathers and
mothers; all these, coming and going, trudged through the whitened
mud that covered the cobbles of the highway inches deep. We passed
cannon, jingling southward with their caissons; trucks bound both
ways, bristling with armed men; ambulances full of wounded from the
direction of the battle, and once a peasant cart, creaking slowly
along, in which sat a white-faced boy bent over his shattered
stomach and screaming monotonously. In the fields on either side
women and old men were digging trenches and stringing barbed wire
Back northward the clouds rolled away dramatically, and the pale sun
came out. Across the flat, marshy plain Petrograd glittered. To the
right, white and gilded and coloured bulbs and pinnacles; to the
left, tall chimneys, some pouring out black smoke; and beyond, a
lowering sky over Finland. On each side of us were churches,
monasteries.... Occasionally a monk was visible, silently watching the
pulse of the proletarian army throbbing on the road.
At Pulkovo the road divided, and there we halted in the midst of a
great crowd, where the human streams poured from three directions,
friends meeting, excited and congratulatory, describing the battle
to one another. A row of houses facing the cross-roads was marked
with bullets, and the earth was trampled into mud half a mile
around. The fighting had been furious here.... In the near distance
riderless Cossack horses circled hungrily, for the grass of the
plain had died long ago. Right in front of us an awkward Red Guard
was trying to ride one, falling off again and again, to the
childlike delight of a thousand rough men.
The left road, along which the remnants of the Cossacks had
retreated, led up a little hill to a hamlet, where there was a
glorious view of the immense plain, grey as a windless sea,
tumultuous clouds towering over, and the imperial city disgorging
its thousands along all the roads. Far over to the left lay the
little hill of Kranoye Selo, the parade-ground of the Imperial
Guards' summer camp, and the Imperial Dairy. In the middle distance
nothing broke the flat monotony but a few walled monasteries and
convents, some isolated factories, and several large buildings with
unkempt grounds that were asylums and orphanages....
"Here," said the driver, as we went on over a barren hill, "here was
where Vera Slutskaya died. Yes, the Bolshevik member of the Duma. It
happened early this morning. She was in an automobile, with Zalkind
and another man. There was a truce, and they started for the front
trenches. They were talking and laughing, when all of a sudden, from
the armoured train in which Kerensky himself was riding, somebody
saw the automobile and fired a cannon. The shell struck Vera
Slutskaya and killed her...."
And so we came into Tsarskoye, all bustling with the swaggering
heroes of the proletarian horde. Now the palace where the Soviet had
met was a busy place. Red Guards and sailors filled the court-yard,
sentries stood at the doors, and a stream of couriers and Commissars
pushed in and out. In the Soviet room a samovar had been set up, and
fifty or more workers, soldiers, sailors and officers stood around,
drinking tea and talking at the top of their voices. In one corner
two clumsy-handed workingmen were trying to make a multigraphing
machine go. At the centre table, the huge Dybenko bent over a map,
marking out positions for the troops with red and blue pencils. In
his free hand he carried, as always, the enormous bluesteel
revolver. Anon he sat himself down at a typewriter and pounded away
with one finger; every little while he would pause, pick up the
revolver, and lovingly spin the chamber.
A couch lay along the wall, and on this was stretched a young
workman. Two Red Guards were bending over him, but the rest of the
company did not pay any attention. In his breast was a hole; through
his clothes fresh blood came welling up with every heart-beat. His
eyes were closed and his young, bearded face was greenish-white.
Faintly and slowly he still breathed, with every breath sighing,
_"Mir boudit! Mir boudit!_ (Peace is coming! Peace is coming!)"
Dybenko looked up as we came in. "Ah," he said to Baklanov.
"Comrade, will you go up to the Commandant's headquarters and take
charge? Wait; I will write you credentials." He went to the
typewriter and slowly picked out the letters.
The new Commandant of Tsarskoye Selo and I went toward the Ekaterina
Palace, Baklanov very excited and important. In the same ornate,
white room some Red Guards were rummaging curiously around, while my
old friend, the Colonel, stood by the window biting his moustache.
He greeted me like a long-lost brother. At a table near the door sat
the French Bessarabian. The Bolsheviki had ordered him to remain,
and continue his work.
"What could I do?" he muttered. "People like myself cannot fight on
either side in such a war as this, no matter how much we may
instinctively dislike the dictatorship of the mob.... I only regret
that I am so far from my mother in Bessarabia!"
Baklanov was formally taking over the office from the Commandant.
"Here," said the Colonel nervously, "are the keys to the desk."
A Red Guard interrupted. "Where's the money?" he asked rudely. The
Colonel seemed surprised. "Money? Money? Ah, you mean the chest.
There it is," said the Colonel, "just as I found it when I took
possession three days ago. Keys?" The Colonel shrugged. "I have no
The Red Guard sneered knowingly. "Very convenient," he said.
"Let us open the chest," said Baklanov. "Bring an axe. Here is an
American comrade. Let him smash the chest open, and write down what
he finds there."
I swung the axe. The wooden chest was empty.
"Let's arrest him," said the Red Guard, venomously. "He is
Kerensky's man. He has stolen the money and given it to Kerensky."
Baklanov did not want to. "Oh, no," he said. "It was the Kornilovitz
before him. He is not to blame.
"The devil!" cried the Red Guard. "He is Kerensky's man, I tell you.
If _you_ won't arrest him, then _we_ will, and we'll take him to
Petrograd and put him in Peter-Paul, where he belongs!" At this the
other Red Guards growled assent. With a piteous glance at us the
Colonel was led away....
Down in front of the Soviet palace an auto-truck was going to the
front. Half a dozen Red Guards, some sailors, and a soldier or two,
under command of a huge workman, clambered in, and shouted to me to
come along. Red Guards issued from headquarters, each of them
staggering under an arm-load of small, corrugated-iron bombs, filled
with _grubit_-which, they say, is ten times as strong, and five
times as sensitive as dynamite; these they threw into the truck. A
three-inch cannon was loaded and then tied onto the tail of the
truck with bits of rope and wire.
We started with a shout, at top speed of course; the heavy truck
swaying from side to side. The cannon leaped from one wheel to the
other, and the _grubit_ bombs went rolling back and forth over our
feet, fetching up against the sides of the car with a crash.
The big Red Guard, whose name was Vladimir Nicolaievitch, plied me
with questions about America. "Why did America come into the war?
Are the American workers ready to throw over the capitalists? What
is the situation in the Mooney case now? Will they extradite Berkman
to San Francisco?" and other, very difficult to answer, all
delivered in a shout above the roaring of the truck, while we held
on to each other and danced amid the caroming bombs.
Occasionally a patrol tried to stop us. Soldiers ran out into the
road before us, shouted _"Shtoi!"_ and threw up their guns.
We paid no attention. "The devil take you!" cried the Red Guards.
"We don't stop for anybody! We're Red Guards!" And we thundered
imperiously on, while Vladimir Nicolaievitch bellowed to me about
the internationalisation of the Panama Canal, and such matters....
About five miles out we saw a squad of sailors marching back, and
"Where's the front, brothers?"
The foremost sailor halted and scratched his head. "This morning,"
he said, "it was about half a kilometer down the road. But the damn
thing isn't anywhere now. We walked and walked and walked, but we
couldn't find it."
They climbed into the truck, and we proceeded. It must have been
about a mile further that Vladimir Nicolaievitch cocked his ear and
shouted to the chauffeur to stop.
"Firing!" he said. "Do you hear it?" For a moment dead silence, and
then, a little ahead and to the left, three shots in rapid
succession. Along here the side of the road was heavily wooded. Very
much excited now, we crept along, speaking in whispers, until the
truck was nearly opposite the place where the firing had come from.
Descending, we spread out, and every man carrying his rifle, went
stealthily into the forest.
Two comrades, meanwhile, detached the cannon and slewed it around
until it aimed as nearly as possible at our backs.
It was silent in the woods. The leaves were gone, and the
tree-trunks were a pale wan colour in the low, sickly autumn sun.
Not a thing moved, except the ice of little woodland pools shivering
under our feet. Was it an ambush?
We went uneventfully forward until the trees began to thin, and
paused. Beyond, in a little clearing, three soldiers sat around a
small fire, perfectly oblivious.
Vladimir Nicolaievitch stepped forward. _"Zra'zvuitye,_ comrades!"
he greeted, while behind him one cannon, twenty rifles and a
truck-load of _grubit_ bombs hung by a hair. The soldiers scrambled
to their feet.
"What was the shooting going on around here?"
One of the soldiers answered, looking relieved, "Why we were just
shooting a rabbit or two, comrade...."
The truck hurtled on toward Romanov, through the bright, empty day.
At the first cross-roads two soldiers ran out in front of us, waving
their rifles. We slowed down, and stopped.
The Red Guards raised a great clamour. "We are Red Guards. We don't
need any passes.... Go on, never mind them!"
But a sailor objected. "This is wrong, comrades. We must have
revolutionary discipline. Suppose some counterrevolutionaries came
along in a truck and said: 'We don't need any passes?' The comrades
don't know you."
At this there was a debate. One by one, however, the sailors and
soldiers joined with the first. Grumbling, each Red Guard produced
his dirty _bumaga_ (paper). All were alike except mine, which had
been issued by the Revolutionary Staff at Smolny. The sentries
declared that I must go with them. The Red Guards objected
strenuously, but the sailor who had spoken first insisted. "This
comrade we know to be a true comrade," he said. "But there are
orders of the Committee, and these orders must be obeyed. That is
In order not to make any trouble, I got down from the truck, and
watched it disappear careening down the road, all the company waving
farewell. The soldiers consulted in low tones for a moment, and then
led me to a wall, against which they placed me. It flashed upon me
suddenly; they were going to shoot me!
In all three directions not a human being was in sight. The only
sign of life was smoke from the chimney of a _datchya,_ a rambling
wooden house a quarter of a mile up the side road. The two soldiers
were walking out into the road. Desperately I ran after them.
"But comrades! See! Here is the seal of the Military Revolutionary
They stared stupidly at my pass, then at each other.
"It is different from the others," said one, sullenly. "We cannot
I took him by the arm. "Come!" I said. "Let's go to that house. Some
one there can surely read." They hesitated. "No," said one. The
other looked me over. "Why not?" he muttered. "After all, it is a
serious crime to kill an innocent man."
We walked up to the front door of the house and knocked. A short,
stout woman opened it, and shrank back in alarm, babbling, "I don't
know anything about them! I don't know anything about them!" One of
my guards held out the pass. She screamed. "Just to read it,
comrade." Hesitatingly she took the paper and read aloud, swiftly:
The bearer of this pass, John Reed, is a representative of the
American Social-Democracy, an internationalist....
Out on the road again the two soldiers held another consultation.
"We must take you to the Regimental Committee," they said. In the
fast-deepening twilight we trudged along the muddy road.
Occasionally we met squads of soldiers, who stopped and surrounded
me with looks of menace, handling my pass around and arguing
violently as to whether or not I should be killed....
It was dark when we came to the barracks of the Second Tsarskoye
Selo Rifles, low sprawling buildings huddled along the post-road. A
number of soldiers slouching at the entrance asked eager questions.
A spy? A provocator? We mounted a winding stair and emerged into a
great, bare room with a huge stove in the centre, and rows of cots
on the floor, where about a thousand soldiers were playing cards,
talking, singing, and asleep. In the roof was a jagged hole made by
I stood in the doorway, and a sudden silence ran among the groups,
who turned and stared at me. Of a sudden they began to move, slowly
and then with a rush, thundering, with faces full of hate.
"Comrades! Comrades!" yelled one of my guards. "Committee!
Committee!" The throng halted, banked around me, muttering. Out of
them shouldered a lean youth, wearing a red arm-band.
"Who is this?" he asked roughly. The guards explained. "Give me the
paper!" He read it carefully, glancing at me with keen eyes. Then he
smiled and handed me the pass. "Comrades, this is an American
comrade. I am Chairman of the Committee, and I welcome you to the
Regiment...." A sudden general buzz grew into a roar of greeting, and
they pressed forward to shake my hand.
"You have not dined? Here we have had our dinner. You shall go to
the Officers' Club, where there are some who speak your language...."
He led me across the court-yard to the door of another building. An
aristocratic-looking youth, with the shoulder straps of a
Lieutenant, was entering. The Chairman presented me, and shaking
hands, went back.
"I am Stepan Georgevitch Morovsky, at your service," said the
Lieutenant, in perfect French. From the ornate entrance hall a
ceremonial staircase led upward, lighted by glittering lustres. On
the second floor billiard-rooms, card-rooms, a library opened from
the hall. We entered the dining-room, at a long table in the centre
of which sat about twenty officers in full uniform, wearing their
gold- and silver-handled swords, the ribbons and crosses of Imperial
decorations. All rose politely as I entered, and made a place for me
beside the Colonel, a large, impressive man with a grizzled beard.
Orderlies were deftly serving dinner. The atmosphere was that of any
officers' mess in Europe. Where was the Revolution?
"You are not Bolsheviki?" I asked Morovsky.
A smile went around the table, but I caught one or two glancing
furtively at the orderly.
"No," answered my friend. "There is only one Bolshevik officer in
this regiment. He is in Petrograd to-night. The Colonel is a
Menshevik. Captain Kherlov there is a Cadet. I myself am a Socialist
Revolutionary of the right wing.... I should say that most of the
officers in the Army are not Bolsheviki, but like me they believe in
democracy; they believe that they must follow the soldier-masses...."
Dinner over, maps were brought, and the Colonel spread them out on
the table. The rest crowded around to see.
"Here," said the Colonel, pointing to pencil marks, "were our
positions this morning. Vladimir Kyrilovitch, where is your company?"
Captain Kherlov pointed. "According to orders, we occupied the
position along this road. Karsavin relieved me at five o'clock."
Just then the door of the room opened, and there entered the
Chairman of the Regimental Committee, with another soldier. They
joined the group behind the Colonel, peering at the map. map. | |
"Good," said the Colonel. "Now the Cossacks have fallen back ten
kilometres in our sector. I do not think it is necessary to take up
advanced positions. Gentlemen, for to-night you will hold the
present line, strengthening the positions by--"
"If you please," interrupted the Chairman of the Regimental
Committee. "The orders are to advance with all speed, and prepare to
engage the Cossacks north of Gatchina in the morning. A crushing
defeat is necessary. Kindly make the proper dispositions."
There was a short silence. The Colonel again turned to the map.
"Very well," he said, in a different voice. "Stepan Georgevitch, you
will please--" Rapidly tracing lines with a blue pencil, he gave his
orders, while a sergeant made shorthand notes. The sergeant then
withdrew, and ten minutes later returned with the orders
typewritten, and one carbon copy. The Chairman of the Committee
studied the map with a copy of the orders before him.
"All right," he said, rising. Folding the carbon copy, he put it in
his pocket. Then he signed the other, stamped it with a round seal
taken from his pocket, and presented it to the Colonel....
Here was the Revolution!
I returned to the Soviet palace in Tsarskoye in the Regimental Staff
automobile. Still the crowds of workers, soldiers and sailors
pouring in and out, still the choking press of trucks, armoured
cars, cannon before the door, and the shouting, the laughter of
unwonted victory. Half a dozen Red Guards forced their way through,
a priest in the middle. This was Father Ivan, they said, who had
blessed the Cossacks when they entered the town. I heard afterward
that he was shot.... (See App. IX, Sect. 4)
Dybenko was just coming out, giving rapid orders right and left. In
his hand he carried the big revolver. An automobile stood with
racing engine at the kerb. Alone, he climbed in the rear seat, and
was off-off to Gatchina, to conquer Kerensky.
Toward nightfall he arrived at the outskirts of the town, and went
on afoot. What Dybenko told the Cossacks nobody knows, but the fact
is that General Krasnov and his staff and several thousand Cossacks
surrendered, and advised Kerensky to do the same. (See App. IX,
As for Kerensky-I reprint here the deposition made by General
Krasnov on the morning of November 14th:
"Gatchina, November 14, 1917. To-day, about three o'clock (A. M.), I
was summoned by the Supreme Commander (Kerensky). He was very
agitated, and very nervous.
"'General,' he said to me, 'you have betrayed me. Your Cossacks
declare categorically that they will arrest me and deliver me to the
"'Yes,' I answered, 'there is talk of it, and I know that you have
no sympathy anywhere.'
"'But the officers say the same thing.'
"'Yes, most of all it is the officers who are discontented with you.'
"'What shall I do? I ought to commit suicide!'
"'If you are an honorable man, you will go immediately to Petrograd
with a white flag, you will present yourself to the Military
Revolutionary Committee, and enter into negotiations as Chief of the
"'All right. I will do that, General.'
"'I will give you a guard and ask that a sailor go with you.'
"'No, no, not a sailor. Do you know whether it is true that Dybenko
"'I don't know who Dybenko is.'
"'He is my enemy.
"'There is nothing to do. If you play for high stakes you must know
how to take a chance.'
"'Yes. I'll leave to-night!'
"'Why? That would be a flight. Leave calmly and openly, so that
every one can see that you are not running away.'
"'Very well. But you must give me a guard on which I can count.'
"I went out and called the Cossack Russkov, of the Tenth Regiment of
the Don, and ordered him to pick out ten Cossacks to accompany the
Supreme Commander. Half an hour later the Cossacks came to tell me
that Kerensky was not in his quarters, that he had run away.
"I gave the alarm and ordered that he be searched for, supposing
that he could not have left Gatchina, but he could not be found...."
And so Kerensky fled, alone, "disguised in the uniform of a sailor,"
and by that act lost whatever popularity he had retained among the
I went back to Petrograd riding on the front seat of an auto truck,
driven by a workman and filled with Red Guards. We had no kerosene,
so our lights were not burning. The road was crowded with the
proletarian army going home, and new reserves pouring out to take
their places. Immense trucks like ours, columns of artillery,
wagons, loomed up in the night, without lights, as we were. We
hurtled furiously on, wrenched right and left to avoid collisions
that seemed inevitable, scraping wheels, followed by the epithets of
Across the horizon spread the glittering lights of the capital,
immeasurably more splendid by night than by day, like a dike of
jewels heaped on the barren plain.
The old workman who drove held the wheel in one hand, while with the
other he swept the far-gleaming capital in an exultant gesture.
"Mine!" he cried, his face all alight. "All mine now! My Petrograd!"
The Military Revolutionary Committee, with a fierce intensity,
followed up its victory:
To all Army, corps, divisional and regimental Committees, to all
Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, to all, all,
Conforming to the agreement between the Cossacks, _yunkers,_
soldiers, sailors and workers, it has been decided to arraign
Alexander Feodorvitch Kerensky before a tribunal of the people. We
demand that Kerensky be arrested, and that he be ordered, in the name
of the organisations hereinafter mentioned, to come immediately to
Petrograd and present himself to the tribunal.
_The Cossacks of the First Division of Ussuri Cavalry; the Committee
of Yunkers of the Petrograd detachment of Franc-Tireurs; the delegate
of the Fifth Army._
People's Commissar DYBENKO.
The Committee for Salvation, the Duma, the Central Committee of the
Socialist Revolutionary party-proudly claiming Kerensky as a
member-all passionately protested that he could only be held
responsible to the Constituent Assembly.
On the evening of November 16th I watched two thousand Red Guards
swing down the Zagorodny Prospekt behind a military band playing the
_Marseillaise_-and how appropriate it sounded-with blood-red flags
over the dark ranks of workmen, to welcome home again their brothers
who had defended "Red Petrograd." In the bitter dusk they tramped,
men and women, their tall bayonets swaying; through streets faintly
lighted and slippery with mud, between silent crowds of bourgeois,
contemptuous but fearful....
All were against them-business men, speculators, investors,
land-owners, army officers, politicians, teachers, students,
professional men, shop-keepers, clerks, agents. The other Socialist
parties hated the Bolsheviki with an implacable hatred. On the side
of the Soviets were the rank and file of the workers, the sailors,
all the undemoralised soldiers, the landless peasants, and a few-a
From the farthest corners of great Russia, whereupon desperate
street-fighting burst like a wave, news of Kerensky's defeat came
echoing back the immense roar of proletarian victory. Kazan, Saratov,
Novgorod, Vinnitza-where the streets had run with blood; Moscow,
where the Bolsheviki had turned their artillery against the last
strong-hold of the bourgeoisie-the Kremlin.
"They are bombarding the Kremlin!" The news passed from mouth to
mouth in the streets of Petrograd, almost with a sense of terror.
Travellers from "white and shining little mother Moscow" told fearful
tales. Thousands killed; the Tverskaya and the Kuznetsky Most in
flames; the church of Vasili Blazheiny a smoking ruin; Usspensky
Cathedral crumbling down; the Spasskaya Gate of the Kremlin
tottering; the Duma burned to the ground. (See App. X, Sect. 1)
Nothing that the Bolsheviki had done could compare with this fearful
blasphemy in the heart of Holy Russia. To the ears of the devout
sounded the shock of guns crashing in the face of the Holy Orthodox
Church, and pounding to dust the sanctuary of the Russian nation....
On November 15th, Lunatcharsky, Commissar of Education, broke into
tears at the session of the Council of People's Commissars, and
rushed from the room, crying, "I cannot stand it! I cannot bear the
monstrous destruction of beauty and tradition...."
That afternoon his letter of resignation was published in the
I have just been informed, by people arriving from Moscow, what has
The Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed, the Cathedral of the
Assumption, are being bombarded. The Kremlin, where are now gathered
the most important art treasures of Petrograd and of Moscow, is under
artillery fire. There are thousands of victims.
The fearful struggle there has reached a pitch of bestial ferocity.
What is left? What more can happen?
I cannot bear this. My cup is full. I am unable to endure these
horrors. It is impossible to work under the pressure of thoughts
which drive me mad!
That is why I am leaving the Council of People's Commissars.
I fully realise the gravity of this decision. But I can bear no
more.... (See App. X, Sect. 2)
That same day the White Guards and _yunkers_ in the Kremlin
surrendered, and were allowed to march out unharmed. The treaty of
1. The Committee of Public Safety ceases to exist.
2. The White Guard gives up its arms and dissolves. The officers
retain their swords and regulations side-arms. In the Military
Schools are retained only the arms necessary for instruction; all
others are surrendered by the _yunkers._ The Military Revolutionary
Committee guarantees the liberty and inviolability of the person.
3. To settle the question of disarmament, as set forth in section 2,
a special commission is appointed, consisting of representatives from
all organisations which took part in the peace negotiations.
4. From the moment of the signature of this peace treaty, both
parties shall immediately give order to cease firing and halt all
military operations, taking measures to ensure punctual obedience to
5. At the signature of the treaty, all prisoners made by the two
parties shall be released....
For two days now the Bolsheviki had been in control of the city. The
frightened citizens were creeping out of their cellars to seek their
dead; the barricades in the streets were being removed. Instead of
diminishing, however, the stories of destruction in Moscow continued
to grow.... And it was under the influence of these fearful reports
that we decided to go there.
Petrograd, after all, in spite of being for a century the seat of
Government, is still an artificial city. Moscow is real Russia,
Russia as it was and will be; in Moscow we would get the true feeling
of the Russian people about the Revolution. Life was more intense
For the past week the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee,
aided by the rank and file of the Railway Workers, had seized control
of the Nicolai Railroad, and hurled trainload after trainload of
sailors and Red Guards southwest.... We were provided with passes from
Smolny, without which no one could leave the capital.... When the train
backed into the station, a mob of shabby soldiers, all carrying huge
sacks of eatables, stormed the doors, smashed the windows, and poured
into all the compartments, filling up the aisles and even climbing
onto the roof. Three of us managed to wedge our way into a
compartment, but almost immediately about twenty soldiers entered....
There was room for only four people; we argued, expostulated, and the
conductor joined us-but the soldiers merely laughed. Were they to
bother about the comfort of a lot of _boorzhui_ (bourgeois)? We
produced the passes from Smolny; instantly the soldiers changed their
"Come, comrades," cried one, "these are American _tovarishtchi._ They
have come thirty thousand versts to see our Revolution, and they are
With polite and friendly apologies the soldiers began to leave.
Shortly afterward we heard them breaking into a compartment occupied
by two stout, well-dressed Russians, who had bribed the conductor and
locked their door....
About seven o'clock in the evening we drew out of the station, an
immense long train drawn by a weak little locomotive burning wood,
and stumbled along slowly, with many stops. The soldiers on the roof
kicked with their heels and sang whining peasant songs; and in the
corridor, so jammed that it was impossible to pass, violent political
debates raged all night long. Occasionally the conductor came
through, as a matter of habit, looking for tickets. He found very few
except ours, and after a half-hour of futile wrangling, lifted his
arms despairingly and withdrew. The atmosphere was stifling, full of
smoke and foul odours; if it hadn't been for the broken windows we
would doubtless have smothered during the night.
In the morning, hours late, we looked out upon a snowy world. It was
bitter cold. About noon a peasant woman got on with a basket-full of
bread-chunks and a great can of luke warm coffee-substitute. From
then on until dark there was nothing but the packed train, jolting
and stopping, and occasional stations where a ravenous mob swooped
down on the scantily-furnished buffet and swept it clean.... At one of
these halts I ran into Nogin and Rykov, the seceding Commissars, who
were returning to Moscow to put their grievances before their own
Soviet, 1and further along was Bukharin, a short, red-bearded man
with the eyes of a fanatic-"more Left than Lenin," they said of him....
Then the three strokes of the bell and we made a rush for the train,
worming our way through the packed and noisy aisle.... A good-natured
crowd, bearing the discomfort with humorous patience, interminably
arguing about everything from the situation in Petrograd to the
British Trade-Union system, and disputing loudly with the few
_boorzhui_ who were on board. Before we reached Moscow almost every
car had organised a Committee to secure and distribute food, and
these Committees became divided into political factions, who wrangled
over fundamental principles....
The station at Moscow was deserted. We went to the office of the
Commissar, in order to arrange for our return tickets. He was a
sullen youth with the shoulder-straps of a Lieutenant; when we showed
him our papers from Smolny, he lost his temper and declared that he
was no Bolshevik, that he represented the Committee of Public
Safety.... It was characteristic-in the general turmoil attending the
conquest of the city, the chief railway station had been forgotten by
Not a cab in sight. A few blocks down the street, however, we woke up
a grotesquely-padded _izvostchik_ asleep upright on the box of his
little sleigh. "How much to the centre of the town?"
He scratched his head. "The _barini_ won't be able to find a room in
any hotel," he said. "But I'll take you around for a hundred
rubles...." Before the Revolution it cost _two!_ We objected, but he
simply shrugged his shoulders. "It takes a good deal of courage to
drive a sleigh nowadays," he went on. We could not beat him down
below fifty.... As we sped along the silent, snowy half-lighted
streets, he recounted his adventures during the six days' fighting.
"Driving along, or waiting for a fare on the corner," he said, "all
of a sudden _pooff!_ a cannon ball exploding here, _pooff!_ a cannon
ball there, _ratt-ratt!_ a machine-gun.... I gallop, the devils
shooting all around. I get to a nice quiet street and stop, doze a
little, _pooff!_ another cannon ball, _ratt-ratt_.... Devils! Devils!
In the centre of the town the snow-piled streets were quiet with the
stillness of convalescence. Only a few arc-lights were burning, only
a few pedestrians hurried along the side-walks. An icy wind blew from
the great plain, cutting to the bone. At the first hotel we entered
an office illuminated by two candles.
"Yes, we have some very comfortable rooms, but all the windows are
shot out. If the _gospodin_ does not mind a little fresh air...."
Down the Tverskaya the shop-windows were broken, and there were
shell-holes and torn-up paving stones in the street. Hotel after
hotel, all full, or the proprietors still so frightened that all they
could say was, "No, no, there is no room! There is no room!" On the
main streets, where the great banking-houses and mercantile houses
lay, the Bolshevik artillery had been indiscriminately effective. As
one Soviet official told me, "Whenever we didn't know just where the
_yunkers_ and White Guards were, we bombarded their pocketbooks...."
At the big Hotel National they finally took us in; for we were
foreigners, and the Military Revolutionary Committee had promised to
protect the dwellings of foreigners.... On the top floor the manager
showed us where shrapnel had shattered several windows. "The
animals!" said he, shaking his first at imaginary Bolsheviki. "But
wait! Their time will come; in just a few days now their ridiculous
Government will fall, and then we shall make them suffer!"
We dined at a vegetarian restaurant with the enticing name, "I Eat
Nobody," and Tolstoy's picture prominent on the walls, and then
sallied out into the streets.
The headquarters of the Moscow Soviet was in the palace of the former
Governor-General, an imposing white building fronting Skobeliev
Square. Red Guards stood sentry at the door. At the head of the wide,
formal stairway, whose walls were plastered with announcements of
committee-meetings and addresses of political parties, we passed
through a series of lofty ante-rooms, hung with red-shrouded pictures
in gold frames, to the splendid state salon, with its magnificent
crystal lustres and gilded cornices. A low-voiced hum of talk,
underlaid with the whirring bass of a score of sewing machines,
filled the place. Huge bolts of red and black cotton cloth were
unrolled, serpentining across the parqueted floor and over tables, at
which sat half a hundred women, cutting and sewing streamers and
banners for the Funeral of the Revolutionary Dead. The faces of these
women were roughened and scarred with life at its most difficult;
they worked now sternly, many of them with eyes red from weeping....
The losses of the Red Army had been heavy.
At a desk in one corner was Rogov, an intelligent, bearded man with
glasses, wearing the black blouse of a worker. He invited us to march
with the Central Executive Committee in the funeral procession next
"It is impossible to teach the Socialist Revolutionaries and the
Mensheviki anything!" he exclaimed. "They compromise from sheer
habit. Imagine! They proposed that we hold a joint funeral with the
[Graphic page-251 Questionairre for the Bourgeoioisie]
Distributed to all bourgeois households in Moscow by the Moscow
Military Revolutionary Commitee, so as to provide a basis for the
requisition of clothing for the Army and the poor workers. For
translation see Appendix 3. (See App. X, Sect. 3)
Across the hall came a man in a ragged soldier-coat and _shapka,_
whose face was familiar; I recognised Melnichansky, whom I had known
as the watch-maker George Melcher in Bayonne, New Jersey, during the
great Standard Oil strike. Now, he told me, he was secretary of the
Moscow Metal-Workers' Union, and a Commissar of the Military
Revolutionary Committee during the fighting....
"You see me!" he cried, showing his decrepit clothing. "I was with
the boys in the Kremlin when the _yunkers_ came the first time. They
shut me up in the cellar and swiped my overcoat, my money, watch and
even the ring on my finger. This is all I've got to wear!"
From him I learned many details of the bloody six-day battle which
had rent Moscow in two. Unlike in Petrograd, in Moscow the City Duma
had taken command of the _yunkers_ and White Guards. Rudnev, the
Mayor, and Minor, president of the Duma, had directed the activities
of the Committee of Public Safety and the troops. Riabtsev,
Commandant of the city, a man of democratic instincts, had hesitated
about opposing the Military Revolutionary Committee; but the Duma had
forced him.... It was the Mayor who had urged the occupation of the
Kremlin; "They will never dare fire on you there," he said....
One garrison regiment, badly demoralised by long inactivity, had been
approached by both sides. The regiment held a meeting to decide what
action to take. Resolved, that the regiment remain neutral, and
continue its present activities-which consisted in peddling rubbers
and sunflower seeds!
"But worst of all," said Melnichansky, "we had to organise while we
were fighting. The other side knew just what it wanted; but here the
soldiers had their Soviet and the workers theirs.... There was a
fearful wrangle over who should be Commander-in-chief; some regiments
talked for days before they decided what to do; and when the officers
suddenly deserted us, we had no battle-staff to give orders...."
Vivid little pictures he gave me. On a cold grey day he had stood at
a corner of the Nikitskaya, which was swept by blasts of machine-gun
fire. A throng of little boys were gathered there-street waifs who
used to be newsboys. Shrill, excited as if with a new game, they
waited until the firing slackened, and then tried to run across the
street.... Many were killed, but the rest dashed backward and forward,
laughing, daring each other....
Late in the evening I went to the _Dvorianskoye Sobranie_-the Nobles'
Club-where the Moscow Bolsheviki were to meet and consider the report
of Nogin, Rykov and the others who had left the Council of People's
The meeting-place was a theatre, in which, under the old régime, to
audiences of officers and glittering ladies, amateur presentations of
the latest French comedy had once taken place.
At first the place filled with the intellectuals-those who lived near
the centre of the town. Nogin spoke, and most of his listeners were
plainly with him. It was very late before the workers arrived; the
working-class quarters were on the outskirts of the town, and no
street-cars were running. But about midnight they began to clump up
the stairs, in groups of ten or twenty-big, rough men, in coarse
clothes, fresh from the battle-line, where they had fought like
devils for a week, seeing their comrades fall all about them.
Scarcely had the meeting formally opened before Nogin was assailed
with a tempest of jeers and angry shouts. In vain he tried to argue,
to explain; they would not listen. He had left the Council of
People's Commissars; he had deserted his post while the battle was
raging. As for the bourgeois press, here in Moscow there was no more
bourgeois press; even the City Duma had been dissolved. (See App. X,
Sect. 4) Bukharin stood up, savage, logical, with a voice which
plunged and struck, plunged and struck.... Him they listened to with
shining eyes. Resolution, to support the action of the Council of
People's Commissars, passed by overwhelming majority. So spoke
[Graphic page-254 Pass to the Kremlin]
By this the Military Revolutionary Commitee requests to give a pass
for the purpose of investigating the Kremlin, the representatives of
the American Socialist party attached to the Socialist press,
comrades Reed and Bryant.
Chief of the Military Revolutionary Committee
For the Secretary
Late in the night we went through the empty streets and under the
Iberian Gate to the great Red Square in front of the Kremlin. The
church of Vasili Blazheiny loomed fantastic, its bright-coloured,
convoluted and blazoned cupolas vague in the darkness. There was no
sign of any damage.... Along one side of the square the dark towers and
walls of the Kremlin stood up. On the high walls flickered redly the
light of hidden flames; voices reached us across the immense place,
and the sound of picks and shovels. We crossed over.
Mountains of dirt and rock were piled high near the base of the wall.
Climbing these we looked down into two massive pits, ten or fifteen
feet deep and fifty yards long, where hundreds of soldiers and
workers were digging in the light of huge fires.
A young student spoke to us in German. "The Brotherhood Grave," he
explained. "To-morrow we shall bury here five hundred proletarians
who died for the Revolution."
He took us down into the pit. In frantic haste swung the picks and
shovels, and the earth-mountains grew. No one spoke. Overhead the
night was thick with stars, and the ancient Imperial Kremlin wall
towered up immeasurably.
"Here in this holy place," said the student, "holiest of all Russia,
we shall bury our most holy. Here where are the tombs of the Tsars,
our Tsar-the People-shall sleep...." His arm was in a sling, from a
bullet-wound gained in the fighting. He looked at it. "You foreigners
look down on us Russians because so long we tolerated a mediæval
monarchy," said he. "But we saw that the Tsar was not the only tyrant
in the world; capitalism was worse, and in all the countries of the
world capitalism was Emperor.... Russian revolutionary tactics are
As we left, the workers in the pit, exhausted and running with sweat
in spite of the cold, began to climb wearily out. Across the Red
Square a dark knot of men came hurrying. They swarmed into the pits,
picked up the tools and began digging, digging, without a word....
So, all the long night volunteers of the People relieved each other,
never halting in their driving speed, and the cold light of the dawn
laid bare the great Square, white with snow, and the yawning brown
pits of the Brotherhood Grave, quite finished.
We rose before sunrise, and hurried through the dark streets to
Skobeliev Square. In all the great city not a human being could be
seen; but there was a faint sound of stirring, far and near, like a
deep wind coming. In the pale half-light a little group of men and
women were gathered before the Soviet headquarters, with a sheaf of
gold-lettered red banners-the Central Executive Committee of the
Moscow Soviets. It grew light. From afar the vague stirring sound
deepened and became louder, a steady and tremendous bass. The city
was rising. We set out down the Tverskaya, the banners flapping
overhead. The little street chapels along our way were locked and
dark, as was the Chapel of the Iberian Virgin, which each new Tsar
used to visit before he went to the Kremlin to crown himself, and
which, day or night, was always open and crowded, and brilliant with
the candles of the devout gleaming on the gold and silver and jewels
of the ikons. Now, for the first time since Napoleon was in Moscow,
they say, the candles were out.
The Holy Orthodox Church had withdrawn the light of its countenance
from Moscow, the nest of irreverent vipers who had bombarded the
Kremlin. Dark and silent and cold were the churches; the priests had
disappeared. There were no popes to officiate at the Red Burial,
there had been no sacrament for the dead, nor were any prayers to be
said over the grave of the blasphemers. Tikhon, Metropolitan of
Moscow, was soon to excommunicate the Soviets....
Also the shops were closed, and the propertied classes stayed at
home-but for other reasons. This was the Day of the People, the
rumour of whose coming was thunderous as surf....
Already through the Iberian Gate a human river was flowing, and the
vast Red Square was spotted with people, thousands of them. I
remarked that as the throng passed the Iberian Chapel, where always
before the passerby had crossed himself, they did not seem to notice
We forced our way through the dense mass packed near the Kremlin
wall, and stood upon one of the dirt-mountains. Already several men
were there, among them Muranov, the soldier who had been elected
Commandant of Moscow-a tall, simple-looking, bearded man with a
Through all the streets to the Red Square the torrents of people
poured, thousands upon thousands of them, all with the look of the
poor and the toiling. A military band came marching up, playing the
_Internationale,_ and spontaneously the song caught and spread like
wind-ripples on a sea, slow and solemn. From the top of the Kremlin
wall gigantic banners unrolled to the ground; red, with great letters
in gold and in white, saying, "Martyrs of the Beginning of World
Social Revolution," and "Long Live the Brotherhood of Workers of the
A bitter wind swept the Square, lifting the banners. Now from the far
quarters of the city the workers of the different factories were
arriving, with their dead. They could be seen coming through the
Gate, the blare of their banners, and the dull red-like blood-of the
coffins they carried. These were rude boxes, made of unplaned wood
and daubed with crimson, borne high on the shoulders of rough men who
marched with tears streaming down their faces, and followed by women
who sobbed and screamed, or walked stiffly, with white, dead faces.
Some of the coffins were open, the lid carried behind them; others
were covered with gilded or silvered cloth, or had a soldier's hat
nailed on the top. There were many wreaths of hideous artificial
Through an irregular lane that opened and closed again the procession
slowly moved toward us. Now through the Gate was flowing an endless
stream of banners, all shades of red, with silver and gold lettering,
knots of crepe hanging from the top-and some Anarchist flags, black
with white letters. The band was playing the Revolutionary Funeral
March, and against the immense singing of the mass of people,
standing uncovered, the paraders sang hoarsely, choked with sobs....
Between the factory-workers came companies of soldiers with their
coffins, too, and squadrons of cavalry, riding at salute, and
artillery batteries, the cannon wound with red and black-forever, it
seemed. Their banners said, "Long live the Third International!" or
"We Want an Honest, General, Democratic Peace!"
Slowly the marchers came with their coffins to the entrance of the
grave, and the bearers clambered up with their burdens and went down
into the pit. Many of them were women-squat, strong proletarian
women. Behind the dead came other women-women young and broken, or
old, wrinkled women making noises like hurt animals, who tried to
follow their sons and husbands into the Brotherhood Grave, and
shrieked when compassionate hands restrained them. The poor love each
All the long day the funeral procession passed, coming in by the
Iberian Gate and leaving the Square by way of the Nikolskaya, a river
of red banners, bearing words of hope and brotherhood and stupendous
prophecies, against a back-ground of fifty thousand people,-under the
eyes of the world's workers and their descendants forever....
One by one the five hundred coffins were laid in the pits. Dusk fell,
and still the banners came drooping and fluttering, the band played
the Funeral March, and the huge assemblage chanted. In the leafless
branches of the trees above the grave the wreaths were hung, like
strange, multi-coloured blossoms. Two hundred men began to shovel in
the dirt. It rained dully down upon the coffins with a thudding
sound, audible beneath the singing....
The lights came out. The last banners passed, and the last moaning
women, looking back with awful intensity as they went. Slowly from
the great Square ebbed the proletarian tide....
I suddenly realised that the devout Russian people no longer needed
priests to pray them into heaven. On earth they were building a
kingdom more bright than any heaven had to offer, and for which it
was a glory to die....
The Conquest of Power (See App. XI, Sect. 1)
DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLES OF RUSSIA (See App. XI,
... The first Congress of Soviets, in June of this year, proclaimed
the right of the peoples of Russia to self-determination.
The second Congress of Soviets, in November last, confirmed this
inalienable right of the peoples of Russia more decisively and
Executing the will of these Congresses, the Council of People's
Commissars has resolved to establish as a basis for its activity in
the question of Nationalities, the following principles:
(1) The equality and sovereignty of the peoples of Russia.
(2) The right of the peoples of Russia to free self-determination,
even to the point of separation and the formation of an independent
(3) The abolition of any and all national and national religious
privileges and disabilities.
(4) The free development of national minorities and ethnographic
groups inhabiting the territory of Russia.
Decrees will be prepared immediately upon the formation of a
Commission on Nationalities.
In the name of the Russian Republic,
People's Commissar for Nationalities
President of the Council of People's Commissars
V. ULIANOV (LENIN)
The Central Rada at Kiev immediately declared Ukraine an independent
Republic, as did the Government of Finland, through the Senate at
Helsingfors. Independent "Governments" spring up in Siberia and the
Caucasus. The Polish Chief Military Committee swiftly gathered
together the Polish troops in the Russian army, abolished their
Committees and established an iron discipline....
All these "Governments" and "movements" had two characteristics in
common; they were controlled by the propertied classes, and they
feared and detested Bolshevism....
Steadily, amid the chaos of shocking change, the Council of People's
Commissars hammered at the scaffolding of the Socialist order.
Decree on Social Insurance, on Workers' Control, Regulations for
Volost Land Committees, Abolition of Ranks and Titles, Abolition of
Courts and the Creation of People's Tribunals.... (See App. XI, Sect.
Army after army, fleet after fleet, sent deputations, "joyfully to
greet the new Government of the People."
In front of Smolny, one day, I saw a ragged regiment just come from
the trenches. The soldiers were drawn up before the great gates,
thin and grey-faced, looking up at the building as if God were in
it. Some pointed out the Imperial eagles over the door, laughing....
Red Guards came to mount guard. All the soldiers turned to look,
curiously, as if they had heard of them but never seen them. They
laughed good-naturedly and pressed out of line to slap the Red
Guards on the back, with half-joking, half-admiring remarks....
The Provisional Government was no more. On November 15th, in all the
churches of the capital, the priests stopped praying for it. But as
Lenin himself told the _Tsay-ee-kah,_ that was "only the beginning
of the conquest of power." Deprived of arms, the opposition, which
still controlled the economic life of the country, settled down to
organise disorganisation, with all the Russian genius for
cooperative action-to obstruct, cripple and discredit the Soviets.
The strike of Government employees was well organised, financed by
the banks and commercial establishments. Every move of the
Bolsheviki to take over the Government apparatus was resisted.
Trotzky went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the functionaries
refused to recognise him, locked themselves in, and when the doors
were forced, resigned. He demanded the keys of the archives; only
when he brought workmen to force the locks were they given up. Then
it was discovered that Neratov, former assistant Foreign Minister,
had disappeared with the Secret Treaties....
Shliapnikov tried to take possession of the Ministry of Labour. It
was bitterly cold, and there was no one to light the fires. Of all
the hundreds of employees, not one would show him where the office
of the Minister was....
Alexandra Kollontai, appointed the 13th of November Commissar of
Public Welfare-the department of charities and public
institutions-was welcomed with a strike of all but forty of the
functionaries in the Ministry. Immediately the poor of the great
cities, the inmates of institutions, were plunged in miserable want:
delegations of starving cripples, of orphans with blue, pinched
faces, besieged the building. With tears streaming down her face,
Kollontai arrested the strikers until they should deliver the keys
of the office and the safe; when she got the keys, however, it was
discovered that the former Minister, Countess Panina, had gone off
with all the funds, which she refused to surrender except on the
order of the Constituent Assembly. (See App. XI, Sect. 4)
In the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Supplies, the
Ministry of Finance, similar incidents occurred. And the employees,
summoned to return or forfeit their positions and their pensions,
either stayed away or returned to sabotage.... Almost all the
_intelligentzia_ being anti-Bolshevik, there was nowhere for the
Soviet Government to recruit new staffs....
The private banks remained stubbornly closed, with a back door open
for speculators. When Bolshevik Commissars entered, the clerks left,
secreting the books and removing the funds. All the employees of the
State Bank struck except the clerks in charge of the vaults and the
manufacture of money, who refused all demands from Smolny and
privately paid out huge sums to the Committee for Salvation and the
Twice a Commissar, with a company of Red Guards, came formally to
insist upon the delivery of large sums for Government expenses. The
first time, the City Duma members and the Menshevik and Socialist
Revolutionary leaders were present in imposing numbers, and spoke so
gravely of the consequences that the Commissar was frightened. The
second time he arrived with a warrant, which he proceeded to read
aloud in due form; but some one called his attention to the fact
that it had no date and no seal, and the traditional Russian respect
for "documents" forced him again to withdraw....
The officials of the Credit Chancery destroyed their books, so that
all record of the financial relations of Russia with foreign
countries was lost.
The Supply Committees, the administrations of the Municipal-owned
public utilities, either did not work at all, or sabotaged. And when
the Bolsheviki, compelled by the desperate needs of the city
population, attempted to help or to control the public service, all
the employees went on strike immediately, and the Duma flooded
Russia with telegrams about Bolshevik "violation of Municipal
At Military headquarters, and in the offices of the Ministries of
War and Marine, where the old officials had consented to work, the
Army Committees and the high command blocked the Soviets in every
way possible, even to the extent of neglecting the troops at the
front. The _Vikzhel_ was hostile, refusing to transport Soviet
troops; every troop-train that left Petrograd was taken out by
force, and railway officials had to be arrested each time-whereupon
the _Vikzhel_ threatened an immediate general strike unless they
Smolny was plainly powerless. The newspapers said that all the
factories of Petrograd must shut down for lack of fuel in three
weeks; the _Vikzhel_ announced that trains must cease running by
December first; there was food for three days only in Petrograd, and
no more coming in; and the Army on the Front was starving.... The
Committee for Salvation, the various Central Committees, sent word
all over the country, exhorting the population to ignore the
Government decrees. And the Allied Embassies were either coldly
indifferent, or openly hostile....
The opposition newspapers, suppressed one day and reappearing next
morning under new names, heaped bitter sarcasm on the new regime.
(See App. XI, Sect. 5) Even _Novaya Zhizn_ characterised it as "a
combination of demagoguery and impotence."
From day to day (it said) the Government of the People's Commissars
sinks deeper and deeper into the mire of superficial haste. Having
easily conquered the power... the Bolsheviki can not make use of it.
Powerless to direct the existing mechanism of Government, they are
unable at the same time to create a new one which might work easily
and freely according to the theories of social experimenters.
Just a little while ago the Bolsheviki hadn't enough men to run
their growing party-a work above all of speakers and writers; where
then are they going to find trained men to execute the diverse and
complicated functions of government?
The new Government acts and threatens, it sprays the country with
decrees, each one more radical and more "socialist" than the last.
But in this exhibition of Socialism on Paper-more likely designed
for the stupefaction of our descendants-there appears neither the
desire nor the capacity to solve the immediate problems of the day!
Meanwhile the _Vikzhel's_ Conference to Form a New Government
continued to meet night and day. Both sides had already agreed in
principle to the basis of the Government; the composition of the
People's Council was being discussed; the Cabinet was tentatively
chosen, with Tchernov as Premier; the Bolsheviki were admitted in a
large minority, but Lenin and Trotzky were barred. The Central
Committees of the Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary parties, the
Executive Committee of the Peasant's Soviets, resolved that,
although unalterably opposed to the "criminal politics" of the
Bolsheviki, they would, "in order to halt the fratricidal
bloodshed," not oppose their entrance into the People's Council.
The flight of Kerensky, however, and the astounding success of the
Soviets everywhere, altered the situation. On the 16th, in a meeting
of the _Tsay-ee-kah,_ the Left Socialist Revolutionaries insisted
that the Bolsheviki should form a coalition Government with the
other Socialist parties; otherwise they would withdraw from the
Military Revolutionary Committee and the _Tsay-ee-kah._ Malkin said,
"The news from Moscow, where our comrades are dying on both sides of
the barricades, determines us to bring up once more the question of
organisation of power, and it is not only our right to do so, but
our duty.... We have won the right to sit with the Bolsheviki here
within the walls of Smolny Institute, and to speak from this
tribune. After the bitter internal party struggle, we shall be
obliged, if you refuse to compromise, to pass to open battle
outside.... We must propose to the democracy terms of an acceptable
After a recess to consider this ultimatum, the Bolsheviki returned
with a resolution, read by Kameniev:
The _Tsay-ee-kah_ considers it necessary that there enter into the
Government representatives of _all the Socialist parties composing
the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies who
recognise the conquests of the Revolution of November 7th-that is to
say, the establishment of a Government of Soviets, the decrees on
peace, land, workers' control over industry, and the arming of the
working-class._ The _Tsay-ee-kah_ therefore resolves to propose
negotiations concerning the constitution of the Government to all
parties _of the Soviet,_ and insists upon the following conditions
as a basis:
The Government is responsible to the _Tsay-ee-kah._ The
_Tsay-ee-kah_ shall be enlarged to 150 members. To these 150
delegates of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies shall be
added 75 delegates of the _Provincial_ Soviets of Peasants'
Deputies, 80 from the Front organisations of the Army and Navy, 40
from the Trade Unions (25 from the various All-Russian Unions, in
proportion to their importance, 10 from the _Vikzhel,_ and 5 from
the Post and Telegraph Workers), and 50 delegates from the Socialist
groups in the Petrograd City Duma. In the Ministry itself, at least
one-half the portfolios must be reserved to the Bolsheviki. The
Ministries of Labour, Interior and Foreign Affairs must be given to
the Bolsheviki. The command of the garrisons of Petrograd and Moscow
must remain in the hands of delegates of the Moscow and Petrograd
The Government undertakes the systematic arming of the workers of
It is resolved to insist upon the candidature of comrades Lenin and
Kameniev explained. "The so-called 'People's Council,'" he said,
"proposed by the Conference, would consist of about 420 members, of
which about 150 would be Bolsheviki. Besides, there would be
delegates from the counter-revolutionary old _Tsay-ee-kah,_ 100
members chosen by the Municipal Dumas-Kornilovtsi all; 100 delegates
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