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John Reed, "Ten Days that Shook the World", 2nd part

Monday 23 February 2009

Chapter IV

The Fall of the Provisional Government

WEDNESDAY, November 7th, I rose very late. The noon cannon boomed from Peter-Paul as I went down the Nevsky. It was a raw, chill day. In front of the State Bank some soldiers with fixed bayonets were standing at the closed gates.

“What side do you belong to?” I asked. “The Government?”

“No more Government,” one answered with a grin, “Slava Bogu! Glory to God!” That was all I could get out of him&….

The street-cars were running on the Nevsky, men, women and small boys hanging on every projection. Shops were open, and there seemed even less uneasiness among the street crowds than there had been the day before. A whole crop of new appeals against insurrection had blossomed out on the walls during the night—to the peasants, to the soldiers at the front, to the workmen of Petrograd. One read:


The Municipal Duma informs the citizens that in the extraordinary meeting of November 6th the Duma formed a Committee of Public Safety, composed of members of the Central and Ward Dumas, and representatives of the following revolutionary democratic organizations: The Tsay-ee-kah, the All-Russian Executive Committee of Peasant Deputies, the Army organisations, the Tsentroflot, the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies (!), the Council of Trade Unions, and others.

Members of the Committee of Public Safety will be on duty in the building of the Municipal Duma. Telephones No. 15-40, 223-77, 138-36.

November 7th, 1917.

Though I didn’t realize it then, this was the Duma’s declaration of war against the Bolsheviki.

I bought a copy of Rabotchi Put, the only newspaper which seemed on sale, and a little later paid a soldier fifty kopeks for a second-hand copy of Dien. The Bolshevik paper, printed on large-sized sheets in the conquered office of the Russkaya Volia, had huge headlines: “ALL POWER—TO THE SOVIETS OF WORKERS, SOLDIERS AND PEASANTS! PEACE! BREAD! LAND!” The leading article was signed “Zinoviev,”—Lenin’s companion in hiding. It began:

Every soldier, every worker, every real Socialist, every honest democrat realises that there are only two alternatives to the present situation.

Either—the power will remain in the hands of the bourgeois-landlord crew, and this will mean every kind of repression for the workers, soldiers and peasants, continuation of the war, inevitable hunger and death&….

Or—the power will be transferred to the hands of the revolutionary workers, soldiers and peasants; and in that case it will mean a complete abolition of landlord tyranny, immediate check of the capitalists, immediate proposal of a just peace. Then the land is assured to the peasants, then control of industry is assured to the workers, then bread is assured to the hungry, then the end of this nonsensical war!&…

Dien contained fragmentary news of the agitated night. Bolsheviki capture of the Telephone Exchange, the Baltic station, the Telegraph Agency; the Peterhof yunkers unable to reach Petrograd; the Cossacks undecided; arrest of some of the Ministers; shooting of Chief of the City Militia Meyer; arrests, counter-arrests, skirmishes between clashing patrols of soldiers, yunkers and Red Guards. [1]

On the corner of the Morskaya I ran into Captain Gomberg, Menshevik oboronetz, secretary of the Military Section of his party. When I asked him if the insurrection had really happened he shrugged his shoulders in a tired manner and replied, “Tchort znayet! The devil knows! Well, perhaps the Bolsheviki can seize the power, but they won’t be able to hold it more than three days. They haven’t the men to run a government. Perhaps it’s a good thing to let them try—that will furnish them&….”

The Military Hotel at the corner of St. Isaac’s Square was picketed by armed sailors. In the lobby were many of the smart young officers, walking up and down or muttering together; the sailors wouldn’t let them leave&….

Suddenly came the sharp crack of a rifle outside, followed by a scattered burst of firing. I ran out. Something unusual was going on around the Marinsky Palace, where the Council of the Russian Republic met. Diagonally across the wide square was drawn a line of soldiers, rifles ready, staring at the hotel roof.

“Provacatzia! Shot at us!” snapped one, while another went running toward the door.

At the western corner of the Palace lay a big armoured car with a red flag flying from it, newly lettered in red paint: “S.R.S.D.” (Soviet Rabotchikh Soldatskikh Deputatov); all the guns trained toward St. Isaac’s. A barricade had been heaped up across the mouth of Novaya Ulitza—boxes, barrels, an old bed-spring, a wagon. A pile of lumber barred the end of the Moika quay. Short logs from a neighbouring wood-pile were being built up along the front of the building to form breastworks&….

“Is there going to be any fighting?” I asked.

“Soon, soon,” answered a soldier, nervously. “Go away, comrade, you’ll get hurt. They will come from that direction,” pointing toward the Admiralty.

“Who will?”

“That I couldn’t tell you, brother,” he answered, and spat.

Before the door of the Palace was a crowd of soldiers and sailors. A sailor was telling of the end of the Council of the Russian Republic. “We walked in there,” he said, “and filled all the doors with comrades. I went up to the counter-revolutionist Kornilovitz who sat in the president’s chair. ‘No more Council,’ I says. ‘Run along home now!#”’

There was laughter. By waving assorted papers I managed to get around to the door of the press gallery. There an enormous smiling sailor stopped me, and when I showed my pass, just said, “If you were Saint Michael himself, comrade, you couldn’t pass here!” Through the glass of the door I made out the distorted face and gesticulating arms of a French correspondent, locked in&….

Around in front stood a little, grey-moustached man in the uniform of a general, the centre of a knot of soldiers. He was very red in the face.

“I am General Alexeyev,” he cried. “As your superior officer and as a member of the Council of the Republic I demand to be allowed to pass!” The guard scratched his head, looking uneasily out of the corner of his eye; he beckoned to an approaching officer, who grew very agitated when he saw who it was and saluted before he realised what he was doing.

“Vashe Vuisokoprevoskhoditelstvo—your High Excellency—” he stammered, in the manner of the old ré#233;gime, “Access to the Palace is strictly forbidden—I have no right—”

An automobile came by, and I saw Gotz sitting inside, laughing apparently with great amusement. A few minutes later another, with armed soldiers on the front seat, full of arrested members of the Provisional Government. Peters, Lettish member of the Military Revolutionary Committee, came hurrying across the Square.

“I thought you bagged all those gentlemen last night,” said I, pointing to them.

“Oh,” he answered, with the expression of a disappointed small boy. “The damn fools let most of them go again before we made up our minds&….”

Down the Voskressensky Prospect a great mass of sailors were drawn up, and behind them came marching soldiers, as far as the eye could reach.

We went toward the Winter Palace by way of the Admiralteisky. All the entrances to the Palace Square were closed by sentries, and a cordon of troops stretched clear across the western end, besieged by an uneasy throng of citizens. Except for far-away soldiers who seemed to be carrying wood out of the Palace courtyard and piling it in front of the main gateway, everything was quiet.

We couldn’t make out whether the sentries were pro-Government or pro-Soviet. Our papers from Smolny had no effect, however, so we approached another part of the line with an important air and showed our American passports, saying “Official business!” and shouldered through. At the door of the Palace the same old shveitzari, in their brass-buttoned blue uniforms with the red-and-gold collars, politely took our coats and hats, and we went up-stairs. In the dark, gloomy corridor, stripped of its tapestries, a few old attendants were lounging about, and in front of Kerensky’s door a young officer paced up and down, gnawing his moustache. We asked if we could interview the Minister-president. He bowed and clicked his heels.

“No, I am sorry,” he replied in French. “Alexander Feodorvitch is extremely occupied just now&….” He looked at us for a moment. “In fact, he is not here&….”

“Where is he?”

“He has gone to the Front.[2] And do you know, there wasn’t enough gasoline for his automobile. We had to send to the English Hospital and borrow some.”

“Are the Ministers here?”

“They are meeting in some room—I don’t know where.’

“Are the Bolsheviki coming?”

“Of course. Certainly, they are coming. I expect a telephone call every minute to say that they are coming. But we are ready. We have yunkers in the front of the Palace. Through that door there.”

“Can we go in there?”

“No. Certainly not. It is not permitted.” Abruptly he shook hands all around and walked away. We turned to the forbidden door, set in a temporary partition dividing the hall and locked on the outside. On the other side were voices, and somebody laughing. Except for that the vast spaces of the old Palace were silent as the grave. An old shveitzar ran up. “No, barin, you must not go in there.”

“Why is the door locked?”

“To keep the soldiers in,” he answered. After a few minutes he said something about having a glass of tea and went back up the hall. We unlocked the door.

Just inside a couple of soldiers stood on guard, but they said nothing. At the end of the corridor was a large, ornate room with gilded cornices and enormous crystal lustres, and beyond it several smaller ones, wainscoted with dark wood. On both sides of the parquetted floor lay rows of dirty mattresses and blankets, upon which occasional soldiers were stretched out; everywhere was a litter of cigarette-butts, bits of bread, cloth, and empty bottles with expensive French labels. More and more soldiers, with the red shoulder-straps of the yunker-schools, moved about in a stale atmosphere of tobacco-smoke and unwashed humanity. One had a bottle of white Burgundy, evidently filched from the cellars of the Palace. They looked at us with astonishment as we marched past, through room after room, until at last we came out into a series of great state-salons, fronting their long and dirty windows on the Square. The walls were covered with huge canvases in massive gilt frames—historical battle-scenes&…. “12 October 1812” and “6 November 1812” and “16/28 August 1813.” — One had a gash across the upper right hand corner.

The place was all a huge barrack, and evidently had been for weeks, from the look of the floor and walls. Machine guns were mounted on window-sills, rifles stacked between the mattresses.

As we were looking at the pictures an alcoholic breath assailed me from the region of my left ear, and a voice said in thick but fluent French, “I see, by the way you admire the paintings, that you are foreigners.” He was a short, puffy man with a baldish head as he removed his cap.

“Americans? Enchanted. I am Stabs-Capitan Vladimir Artzibashev, absolutely at your service.” It did not seem to occur to him that there was anything unusual in four strangers, one a woman, wandering through the defences of an army awaiting attack. He began to complain of the state of Russia.

“Not only these Bolsheviki,” he said, “but the fine traditions of the Russian army are broken down. Look around you. These are all students in the officers’ training schools. But are they gentlemen? Kerensky opened the officers’ schools to the ranks, to any soldier who could pass an examination. Naturally there are many, many who are contaminated by the Revolution&….”

Without consequence he changed the subject. “I am very anxious to go away from Russia. I have made up my mind to join the American army. Will you please go to your Consul and make arrangements? I will give you my address.” In spite of our protestations he wrote it on a piece of paper, and seemed to feel better at once. I have it still—“Oranien-baumskaya Shkola Praporshtchikov 2nd, Staraya Peterhof.”

“We had a review this morning early,” he went on, as he guided us through the rooms and explained everything. “The Women’s Battalion decided to remain loyal to the Government.”

“Are the women soldiers in the Palace?”

“Yes, they are in the back rooms, where they won’t be hurt if any trouble comes.” He sighed. “It is a great responsibility,” said he.

For a while we stood at the window, looking down on the Square before the Palace, where three companies of long-coated yunkers were drawn up under arms, being harangued by a tall, energetic-looking officer I recognised as Stankievitch, chief Military Commissar of the Provisional Government. After a few minutes two of the companies shouldered arms with a clash, barked three sharp shouts, and went swinging off across the Square, disappearing through the Red Arch into the quiet city.

“They are going to capture the Telephone Exchange,” said some one. Three cadets stood by us, and we fell into conversation. They said they had entered the schools from the ranks, and gave their names—Robert Olev, Alexei Vasilienko and Erni Sachs, an Esthonian. But now they didn’t want to be officers any more, because officers were very unpopular. They didn’t seem to know what to do, as a matter of fact, and it was plain that they were not happy.

But soon they began to boast. “If the Bolsheviki come we shall show them how to fight. They do not dare to fight, they are cowards. But if we should be overpowered, well, every man keeps one bullet for himself&….”

At this point there was a burst of rifle-fire not far off. Out on the Square all the people began to run, falling flat on their faces, and the izvoshtchiki, standing on the corners, galloped in every direction. Inside all was uproar, soldiers running here and there, grabbing up guns, rifle-belts and shouting, “Here they come! Here they come!” — But in a few minutes it quieted down again. The izvoshtchiki came back, the people lying down stood up. Through the Red Arch appeared the yunkers, marching a little out of step, one of them supported by two comrades.

It was getting late when we left the Palace. The sentries in the Square had all disappeared. The great semi-circle of Government buildings seemed deserted. We went into the Hotel France for dinner, and right in the middle of soup the waiter, very pale in the face, came up and insisted that we move to the main dining-room at the back of the house, because they were going to put out the lights in the café#233;. “There will be much shooting,” he said.

When we came out on the Morskaya again it was quite dark, except for one flickering street-light on the corner of the Nevsky. Under this stood a big armored automobile, with racing engine and oil-smoke pouring out of it. A small boy had climbed up the side of the thing and was looking down the barrel of a machine gun. Soldiers and sailors stood around, evidently waiting for something. We walked back up to the Red Arch, where a knot of soldiers was gathered staring at the brightly-lighted Winter Palace and talking in loud tones.

“No, comrades,” one was saying. “How can we shoot at them? The Women’s Battalion is in there—they will say we have fired on Russian women.”

As we reached the Nevsky again another armoured car came around the corner, and a man poked his head out of the turret-top.

“Come on!” he yelled. “Let’s go on through and attack!”

The driver of the other car came over, and shouted so as to be heard above the roaring engine. “The Committee says to wait. They have got artillery behind the wood-piles in there&….”

Here the street-cars had stopped running, few people passed, and there were no lights; but a few blocks away we could see the trams, the crowds, the lighted shop-windows and the electric signs of the moving-picture shows—life going on as usual. We had tickets to the Ballet at the Marinsky Theatre—all theatres were open—but it was too exciting out of doors&….

In the darkness we stumbled over lumber-piles barricading the Police Bridge, and before the Stroganov Palace made out some soldiers wheeling into position a three-inch field-gun. Men in various uniforms were coming and going in an aimless way, and doing a great deal of talking&….

Up the Nevsky the whole city seemed to be out promenading. On every corner immense crowds were massed around a core of hot discussion. Pickets of a dozen soldiers with fixed bayonets lounged at the street-crossings, red-faced old men in rich fur coats shook their fists at them, smartly-dressed women screamed epithets; the soldiers argued feebly, with embarrassed grins&…. Armoured cars went up and down the street, named after the first Tsars—Oleg, Rurik, Svietoslav—and daubed with huge red letters, “R. S. D. R. P.” (Rossiskaya Partia)[1]. At the Mikhailovsky a man appeared with an armful of newspapers, and was immediately stormed by frantic people, offering a rouble, five roubles, ten roubles, tearing at each other like animals. It was Rabotchi i Soldat, announcing the victory of the Proletarian Revolution, the liberation of the Bolsheviki still in prison, calling upon the Army front and rear for support— a feverish little sheet of four pages, running to enormous type, containing no news&….

On the corner of the Sadovaya about two thousand citizens had gathered, staring up at the roof of a tall building, where a tiny red spark glowed and waned.

“See!” said a tall peasant, pointing to it. “It is a provocator. Presently he will fire on the people&….” Apparently no one thought of going to investigate.

The massive facade of Smolny blazed with lights as we drove up, and from every street converged upon it streams of hurrying shapes dim in the gloom. Automobiles and motorcycles came and went; an enormous elephant-coloured armoured automobile, with two red flags flying from the turret, lumbered out with screaming siren. It was cold, and at the outer gate the Red Guards had built themselves a bon-fire. At the inner gate, too, there was a blaze, by the light of which the sentries slowly spelled out our passes and looked us up and down. The canvas covers had been taken off the four rapid-fire guns on each side of the doorway, and the ammunition-belts hung snakelike from their breeches. A dun herd of armoured cars stood under the trees in the court-yard, engines going. The long, bare, dimly-illuminated halls roared with the thunder of feet, calling, shouting&…. There was an atmosphere of recklessness. A crowd came pouring down the staircase, workers in black blouses and round black fur hats, many of them with guns slung over their shoulders, soldiers in rough dirt-coloured coats and grey fur shapki pinched flat, a leader or so—Lunatcharsky, Kameniev—hurrying along in the centre of a group all talking at once, with harassed anxious faces, and bulging portfolios under their arms. The extraordinary meeting of the Petrograd Soviet was over. I stopped Kameniev—a quick moving little man, with a wide, vivacious face set close to his shoulders. Without preface he read in rapid French a copy of the resolution just passed:

The Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, saluting the victorious Revolution of the Petrograd proletariat and garrison, particularly emphasises the unity, organisation, discipline, and complete cooperation shown by the masses in this rising; rarely has less blood been spilled, and rarely has an insurrection succeeded so well.

The Soviet expresses its firm conviction that the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government which, as the government of the Soviets, will be created by the Revolution, and which will assure the industrial proletariat of the support of the entire mass of poor peasants, will march firmly toward Socialism, the only means by which the country can be spared the miseries and unheard-of horrors of war.

The new Workers’ and Peasants’ Government will propose immediately a just and democratic peace to all the belligerent countries.

It will suppress immediately the great landed property, and transfer the land to the peasants. It will establish workmen’s control over production and distribution of manufactured products, and will set up a general control over the banks, which it will transform into a state monopoly.

The Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies calls upon the workers and the peasants of Russia to support with all their energy and all their devotion the Proletarian Revolution. The Soviet expresses its conviction that the city workers, allies of the poor peasants, will assure complete revolutionary order, indispensable to the victory of Socialism. The Soviet is convinced that the proletariat of the countries of Western Europe will aid us in conducting the cause of Socialism to a real and lasting victory.

“You consider it won then?”

He lifted his shoulders. “There is much to do. Horribly much. It is just beginning&….

On the landing I met Riazanov, vice-president of the Trade Unions, looking black and biting his grey beard. “It’s insane! Insane!” he shouted. “The European working-class won’t move! All Russia—” He waved his hand distractedly and ran off. Riazanov and Kameniev had both opposed the insurrection, and felt the lash of Lenin’s terrible tongue&….

It had been a momentous session. In the name of the Military Revolutionary Committee Trotzky had declared that the Provisional Government no longer existed.

“The characteristic of bourgeois governments,” he said, “is to deceive the people. We, the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, are going to try an experiment unique in history; we are going to found a power which will have no other aim but to satisfy the needs of the soldiers, workers, and peasants.”

Lenin had appeared, welcomed with a mighty ovation, prophesying world-wide Social Revolution&…. And Zinoviev, crying, “This day we have paid our debt to the international proletariat, and struck a terrible blow at the war, a terrible body-blow at all the imperialists and particularly at Wilhelm the Executioner&….

Then Trotzky, that telegrams had been sent to the front announcing the victorious insurrection, but no reply had come. Troops were said to be marching against Petrograd—a delegation must be sent to tell them the truth.

Cries, “You are anticipating the will of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets!”

Trotzky, coldly, “The will of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets has been anticipated by the rising of the Petrograd workers and soldiers!”

So we came into the great meeting-hall, pushing through the clamorous mob at the door. In the rows of seats, under the white chandeliers, packed immovably in the aisles and on the sides, perched on every window-sill, and even the edge of the platform, the representatives of the workers and soldiers of all Russia waited in anxious silence or wild exultation the ringing of the chairman’s bell. There was no heat in the hall but the stifling heat of unwashed human bodies. A foul blue cloud of cigarette smoke rose from the mass and hung in the thick air. Occasionally some one in authority mounted the tribune and asked the comrades not to smoke; then everybody, smokers and all, took up the cry “Don’t smoke, comrades!” and went on smoking. Petrovsky, Anarchist delegate from the Obukhov factory, made a seat for me beside him. Unshaven and filthy, he was reeling from three nights’ sleepless work on the Military Revolutionary Committee.

On the platform sat the leaders of the old Tsay-ee-kah—for the last time dominating the turbulent Soviets, which they had ruled from the first days, and which were now risen against them. It was the end of the first period of the Russian revolution, which these men had attempted to guide in careful ways&…. The three greatest of them were not there: Kerensky, flying to the front through country towns all doubtfully heaving up; Tcheidze, the old eagle, who had contemptuously retired to his own Georgian mountains, there to sicken with consumption; and the high-souled Tseretelli, also mortally stricken, who, nevertheless, would return and pour out his beautiful eloquence for a lost cause. Gotz sat there, Dan, Lieber, Bogdanov, Broido, Fillipovsky,—white-faced, hollow-eyed and indignant. Below them the second siezd of the All-Russian Soviets boiled and swirled, and over their heads the Military Revolutionary Committee functioned white-hot, holding in its hands the threads of insurrection and striking with a long arm&…. It was 10.40 P. M.

Dan, a mild-faced, baldish figure in a shapeless military surgeon’s uniform, was ringing the bell. Silence fell sharply, intense, broken by the scuffling and disputing of the people at the door&….

“We have the power in our hands,” he began sadly, stopped for a moment, and then went on in a low voice. “Comrades! The Congress of Soviets in meeting in such unusual circumstances and in such an extraordinary moment that you will understand why the Tsay-ee-kah considers it unnecessary to address you with a political speech. This will become much clearer to you if you will recollect that I am a member of the Tsay-ee-kah, and that at this very moment our party comrades are in the Winter Palace under bombardment, sacrificing themselves to execute the duty put on them by the Tsay-ee-kah.” (Confused uproar.)

“I declare the first session of the Second Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies open!”

The election of the presidium took place amid stir and moving about. Avanessov announced that by agreement of the Bolsheviki, Left Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviki Internationalists, it was decided to base the presidium upon proportionality. Several Mensheviki leaped to their feet protesting. A bearded soldier shouted at them, “Remember what you did to us Bolsheviki when we were the minority!” Result—14 Bolsheviki, 7 Socialist Revolutionaries, 3 Mensheviki and 1 Internationalist (Gorky’s group). Hendelmann, for the right and centre Socialist Revolutionaries, said that they refused to take part in the presidium; the same from Kintchuk, for the Mensheviki; and from the Mensheviki Internationalists, that until the verification of certain circumstances, they too could not enter the presidium. Scattering applause and hoots. One voice, “Renegades, you call yourselves Socialists!” A representative of the Ukrainean delegates demanded, and received, a place. Then the old Tsay-ee-kah stepped down, and in their places appeared Trotzky, Kameniev, Lunatcharsky, Madame Kollentai, Nogin&…. The hall rose, thundering. How far they had soared, these Bolsheviki, from a despised and hunted sect less than four months ago, to this supreme place, the helm of great Russia in full tide of insurrection!

The order of the day, said Kameniev, was first, Organisation of Power; second, War and Peace; and third, the Constituent Assembly. Lozovsky, rising, announced that upon agreement of the bureau of all factions, it was proposed to hear and discuss the report of the Petrograd Soviet, then to give the floor to members of the Tsay-ee-kah and the different parties, and finally to pass to the order of the day.

But suddenly a new sound made itself heard, deeper than the tumult of the crowd, persistent, disquieting,—the dull shock of guns. People looked anxiously toward the clouded windows, and a sort of fever came over them. Martov, demanding the floor, croaked hoarsely, “The civil war is beginning, comrades! The first question must be a peaceful settlement of the crisis. On principle and from a political standpoint we must urgently discuss a means of averting civil war. Our brothers are being shot down in the streets! At this moment, when before the opening of the Congress of Soviets the question of Power is being settled by means of a military plot organised by one of the revolutionary parties—” for a moment he could not make himself heard above the noise, “All of the revolutionary parties must face the fact! The first vopros (question) before the Congress is the question of Power, and this question is already being settled by force of arms in the streets!— We must create a power which will be recognised by the whole democracy. If the Congress wishes to be the voice of the revolutionary democracy it must not sit with folded hands before the developing civil war, the result of which may be a dangerous outburst of counter-revolution&…. The possibility of a peaceful outcome lies in the formation of a united democratic authority&…. We must elect a delegation to negotiate with the other Socialist parties and organisation&….

Always the methodical muffled boom of cannon through the windows, and the delegates, screaming at each other&…. So, with the crash of artillery, in the dark, with hatred, and fear, and reckless daring, new Russia was being born.

The Left Socialist Revolutionaries and the United Social Democrats supported Martov’s proposition. It was accepted. A soldier announced that the All-Russian Peasants’ Soviets had refused to send delegates to the Congress; he proposed that a committee be sent with a formal invitation. “Some delegates are present,” he said. “I move that they be given votes.” Accepted.

Kharash, wearing the epaulets of a captain, passionately demanded the floor. “The political hypocrites who control this Congress,” he shouted, “told us we were to settle the question of Power—and it is being settled behind our backs, before the Congress opens! Blows are being struck against the Winter Palace, and it is by such blows that the nails are being driven into the coffin of the political party which has risked such an adventure!” Uproar. Followed him Gharra: “While we are here discussing propositions of peace, there is a battle on in the streets&…. The Socialist Revolutionaries and the Mensheviki refuse to be involved in what is happening, and call upon all public forces to resist the attempt to capture the power&….” Kutchin, delegate of the 12th Army and representative of the Troudoviki: “I was sent here only for information, and I am returning at once to the Front, where all the Army Committees consider that the taking of power by the Soviets, only three weeks before the Constituent Assembly, is a stab in the back of the Army and a crime against the people—!” Shouts of “Lie! You lie!”— When he could be heard again, “Let’s make an end of this adventure in Petrograd! I call upon all delegates to leave this hall in order to save the country and the Revolution!” As he went down the aisle in the midst of a deafening noise, people surged in upon him, threatening&…. Then Khintchuk, an officer with a long brown goatee, speaking suavely and persuasively: “I speak for the delegates from the Front. The Army is imperfectly represented in this Congress, and furthermore, the Army does not consider the Congress of Soviets necessary at this time, only three weeks before the opening of the Constituent—” shouts and stamping, always growing more violent. “The Army does not consider that the Congress of Soviets has the necessary authority—” Soldiers began to stand up all over the hall.

“Who are you speaking for? What do you represent?” they cried.

“The Central Executive Committee of the Soviet of the Fifth Army, the Second F— regiment, the First N— Regiment, the Third S— Rifles&….”

“When were you elected? You represent the officers, not the soldiers! What do the soldiers say about it?” Jeers and hoots.

“We, the Front group, disclaim all responsibility for what has happened and is happening, and we consider it necessary to mobilise all self-conscious revolutionary forces for the salvation of the Revolution! The Front group will leave the Congress&…. The place to fight is out on the streets!”

Immense bawling outcry. “You speak for the Staff—not for the Army!”

“I appeal to all reasonable soldiers to leave this Congress!”

“Kornilovitz! Counter-revolutionist! Provocator!” were hurled at him.

On behalf of the Mensheviki, Khintchuk then announced that the only possibility of a peaceful solution was to begin negotiations with the Provisional Government for the formation of a new Cabinet, which would find support in all strata of society. He could not proceed for several minutes. Raising his voice to a shout he read the Menshevik declaration:

“Because the Bolsheviki have made a military conspiracy with the aid of the Petrograd Soviet, without consulting the other factions and parties, we find it impossible to remain in the Congress, and therefore withdraw, inviting the other groups to follow us and to meet for discussion of the situation!”

“Deserter!” At intervals in the almost continuous disturbance Hendelman, for the Socialist Revolutionaries, could be heard protesting against the bombardment of the Winter Palace&…. “We are opposed to this kind of anarchy&….”

Scarcely had he stepped down than a young, lean-faced soldier, with flashing eyes, leaped to the platform, and dramatically lifted his hand:

“Comrades!” he cried and there was a hush. “My familia (name) is Peterson—I speak for the Second Lettish Rifles. You have heard the statements of two representatives of the Army committees; these statements would have some value if their authors had been representatives of the Army—” Wild applause. “But they do not represent the soldiers!” Shaking his fist. “The Twelfth Army has been insisting for a long time upon the re-election of the Great Soviet and the Army Committee, but just as your own Tsay-ee-kah, our Committee refused to call a meeting of the representatives of the masses until the end of September, so that the reactionaries could elect their own false delegates to this Congress. I tell you now, the Lettish soldiers have many times said, ‘No more resolutions! No more talk! We want deeds—the Power must be in our hands!’ Let these impostor delegates leave the Congress! The Army is not with them!”

The hall rocked with cheering. In the first moments of the session, stunned by the rapidity of events, startled by the sound of cannon, the delegates had hesitated. For an hour hammer-blow after hammer-blow had fallen from that tribune, welding them together but beating them down. Did they stand then alone? Was Russia rising against them? Was it true that the Army was marching on Petrograd? Then this clear-eyed young soldier had spoken, and in a flash they knew it for the truth&…. This was the voice of the soldiers—the stirring millions of uniformed workers and peasants were men like them, and their thoughts and feelings were the same—

More soldiers — Gzhelshakh; for the Front delegates, announcing that they had only decided to leave the Congress by a small majority, and that the Bolshevik members had not even taken part in the vote, as they stood for division according to political parties, and not groups. “Hundreds of delegates from the Front,” he said, “are being elected without the participation of the soldiers because the Army Committees are no longer the real representatives of the rank and file&….” Lukianov, crying that officers like Kharash and Khintchuk could not represent the Army in this congress,—but only the high command. “The real inhabitants of the trenches want with all their hearts the transfer of Power into the hands of the Soviets, and they expect very much from it!”— The tide was turning.

Then came Abramovitch, for the Bund, the organ of the Jewish Social Democrats—his eyes snapping behind thick glasses, trembling with rage.

“What is taking place now in Petrograd is a monstrous calamity! The Bund group joins with the declaration of the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries and will leave the Congress!” He raised his voice and hand. “Our duty to the Russian proletariat doesn’t permit us to remain here and be responsible for these crimes. Because the firing on the Winter Palace doesn’t cease, the Municipal Duma together with the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries, and the Executive Committee of the Peasants’ Soviet, has decided to perish with the Provisional Government, and we are going with them! Unarmed we will expose our breasts to the machine guns of the Terrorists&…. We invite all delegates to this Congress—” The rest was lost in a storm of hoots, menaces and curses which rose to a hellish pitch as fifty delegates got up and pushed their way out&….

Kameniev jangled the bell, shouting, “Keep your seats and we’ll go on with our business!” And Trotzky, standing up with a pale, cruel face, letting out his rich voice in cool contempt, “All these so-called Socialist compromisers, these frightened Mensheviki, Socialist Revolutionaries, Bund—let them go! They are just so much refuse which will be swept into the garbage-heap of history!”

Riazanov, for the Bolsheviki, stated that at the request of the City Duma the Military Revolutionary Committee had sent a delegation to offer negotiations to the Winter Palace. “In this way we have done everything possible to avoid blood-shed&….”

We hurried from the place, stopping for a moment at the room where the Military Revolutionary Committee worked at furious speed, engulfing and spitting out panting couriers, despatching Commissars armed with power of life and death to all the corners of the city, amid the buzz of the telephonographs. The door opened, a blast of stale air and cigarette smoke rushed out, we caught a glimpse of dishevelled men bending over a map under the glare of a shaded electric-light&…. Comrade Josephov-Dukhvinski, a smiling youth with a mop of pale yellow hair, made out passes for us.

When we came into the chill night, all the front of Smolny was one huge park of arriving and departing automobiles, above the sound of which could be heard the far-off slow beat of the cannon. A great motor-truck stood there, shaking to the roar of its engine. Men were tossing bundles into it, and others receiving them, with guns beside them.

“Where are you going?” I shouted.

“Down-town—all over—everywhere!” answered a little workman, grinning, with a large exultant gesture.

We showed our passes. “Come along!” they invited. “But there’ll probably be shooting—” We climbed in; the clutch slid home with a raking jar, the great car jerked forward, we all toppled backward on top of those who were climbing in; past the huge fire by the gate, and then the fire by the outer gate, glowing red on the faces of the workmen with rifles who squatted around it, and went bumping at top speed down the Suvorovsky Prospect, swaying from side to side&…. One man tore the wrapping from a bundle and began to hurl handfuls of papers into the air. We imitated him, plunging down through the dark street with a tail of white papers floating and eddying out behind. The late passerby stooped to pick them up; the patrols around bonfires on the corners ran out with uplifted arms to catch them. Sometimes armed men loomed up ahead, crying “Shtoi!” and raising their guns, but our chauffeur only yelled something unintelligible and we hurtled on&….

I picked up a copy of the paper, and under a fleeting street-light read:


The Provisional Government is deposed. The State Power has passed into the hands of the organ of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, the Military Revolutionary Committee, which stands at the head of the Petrograd proletariat and garrison.

The cause for which the people were fighting: immediate proposal of a democratic peace, abolition of landlord property-rights over the land, labor control over production, creation of a Soviet Government—that cause is securely achieved.


Military Revolutionary Committee

Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.

Proclamation of the Fall of the Provisional Government issued by the Military Revolutionary Committee on the night of November 7th (our calendar), which we helped to distribute from a motor-truck just after the surrender of the Winter Palace.

A slant-eyed, Mongolian-faced man who sat beside me, dressed in a goat-skin Caucasian cape, snapped, “Look out! Here the provocators always shoot from the windows!” We turned into Znamensky Square, dark and almost deserted, careened around Trubetskoy’s brutal statue and swung down the wide Nevsky, three men standing up with rifles ready, peering at the windows. Behind us the street was alive with people running and stooping. We could no longer hear the cannon, and the nearer we drew to the Winter Palace end of the city the quieter and more deserted were the streets. The City Duma was all brightly lighted. Beyond that we made out a dark mass of people, and a line of sailors, who yelled furiously at us to stop. The machine slowed down, and we climbed out.

It was an astonishing scene. Just at the corner of the Ekaterina Canal, under an arc-light, a cordon of armed sailors was drawn across the Nevsky, blocking the way to a crowd of people in column of fours. There were about three or four hundred of them, men in frock coats, well-dressed women, officers—all sorts and conditions of people. Among them we recognised many of the delegates from the Congress, leaders of the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries; Avksentiev, the lean, red-bearded president of the Peasants’ Soviets, Sarokin, Kerensky’s spokesman, Khintchuk, Abramovitch; and at the head white-bearded old Schreider, Mayor of Petrograd, and Prokopovitch, Minister of Supplies in the Provisional Government, arrested that morning and released. I caught sight of Malkin, reporter for the Russian Daily News. “Going to die in the Winter Palace,” he shouted cheerfully. The procession stood still, but from the front of it came loud argument. Schreider and Prokopovitch were bellowing at the big sailor who seemed in command.

“We demand to pass!” they cried. “See, these comrades come from the Congress of Soviets! Look at their tickets! We are going to the Winter Palace!”

The sailor was plainly puzzled. He scratched his head with an enormous hand, frowning. “I have orders from the Committee not to let anybody go to the Winter Palace,” he grumbled. “But I will send a comrade to telephone to Smolny&….”

“We Insist upon passing! We are unarmed! We will march on whether you permit us or not!” cried old Schreider, very much excited.

“I have orders—” repeated the sailor sullenly.

“Shoot us if you want to! We will pass! Forward!” came from all sides. “We are ready to die, if you have the heart to fire on Russians and comrades! We bare our breasts to your guns!”

“No,” said the sailor, looking stubborn, “I can’t allow you to pass.”

“What will you do if we go forward? Will you shoot?”

“No, I’m not going to shoot people who haven’t any guns. We won’t shoot unarmed Russian people&….”

“We will go forward! What can you do?”

“We will do something,”replied the sailor, evidently at a loss. “We can’t let you pass. We will do something.”

“What will you do? What will you do?”

Another sailor came up, very much irritated. “We will spank you!” he cried, energetically. “And if necessary we will shoot you too. Go home now, and leave us in peace!”

At this there was a great clamour of anger and resentment, Prokopovitch had mounted some sort of box, and, waving his umbrella, he made a speech:

“Comrades and citizens!” he said. “Force is being used against us! We cannot have our innocent blood upon the hands of these ignorant men! It is beneath our dignity to be shot down here in the street by switchmen—” (What he meant by “switchmen” I never discovered.) “Let us return to the Duma and discuss the best means of saving the country and the Revolution!”

Whereupon, in dignified silence, the procession marched around and back up the Nevsky, always in column of fours. And taking advantage of the diversion we slipped past the guards and set off in the direction of the Winter Palace.

Here it was absolutely dark, and nothing moved but pickets of soldiers and Red Guards grimly intent. In front of the Kazan Cathedral a three-inch field-gun lay in the middle of the street, slewed sideways from the recoil of its last shot over the roofs. Soldiers were standing in every doorway talking in low tones and peering down toward the Police Bridge. I heard one voice saying: “It is possible that we have done wrong&….” At the corners patrols stopped all passersby—and the composition of these patrols was interesting, for in command of the regular troops was invariably a Red Guard&…. The shooting had ceased.

Just as we came to the Morskaya somebody was shouting: “The yunkers have sent word they want us to go and get them out!” Voices began to give commands, and in the thick gloom we made out a dark mass moving forward, silent but for the shuffle of feet and the clinking of arms. We fell in with the first ranks.

Like a black river, filling all the street, without song or cheer we poured through the Red Arch, where the man just ahead of me said in a low voice: “Look out, comrades! Don’t trust them. They will fire, surely!” In the open we began to run, stooping low and bunching together, and jammed up suddenly behind the pedestal of the Alexander Column.

“How many of you did they kill?” I asked.

“I don’t know. About ten&….”

After a few minutes huddling there, some hundreds of men, the army seemed reassured and without any orders suddenly began again to flow forward. By this time, in the light that streamed out of all the Winter Palace windows, I could see that the first two or three hundred men were Red Guards, with only a few scattered soldiers. Over the barricade of firewood we clambered, and leaping down inside gave a triumphant shout as we stumbled on a heap of rifles thrown down by the yunkers who had stood there. On both sides of the main gateway the doors stood wide open, light streamed out, and from the huge pile came not the slightest sound.

Carried along by the eager wave of men we were swept into the right hand entrance, opening into a great bare vaulted room, the cellar of the East wing, from which issued a maze of corridors and stair-cases. A number of huge packing cases stood about, and upon these the Red Guards and soldiers fell furiously, battering them open with the butts of their rifles, and pulling out carpets, curtains, linen, porcelain plates, glassware&…. One man went strutting around with a bronze clock perched on his shoulder; another found a plume of ostrich feathers, which he stuck in his hat. The looting was just beginning when somebody cried, “Comrades! Don’t touch anything! Don’t take anything! This is the property of the People!” Immediately twenty voices were crying, “Stop! Put everything back! Don’t take anything! Property of the People!” Many hands dragged the spoilers down. Damask and tapestry were snatched from the arms of those who had them; two men took away the bronze clock. Roughly and hastily the things were crammed back in their cases, and self-appointed sentinels stood guard. It was all utterly spontaneous. Through corridors and up stair-cases the cry could be heard growing fainter and fainter in the distance, “Revolutionary discipline! Property of the People&….”

We crossed back over to the left entrance, in the West wing. There order was also being established. “Clear the Palace!” bawled a Red Guard, sticking his head through an inner door. “Come, comrades, let’s show that we’re not thieves and bandits. Everybody out of the Palace except the Commissars, until we get sentries posted.”

Two Red Guards, a soldier and an officer, stood with revolvers in their hands. Another soldier sat at a table behind them, with pen and paper. Shouts of “All out! All out!” were heard far and near within, and the Army began to pour through the door, jostling, expostulating, arguing. As each man appeared he was seized by the self-appointed committee, who went through his pockets and looked under his coat. Everything that was plainly not his property was taken away, the man at the table noted it on his paper, and it was carried into a little room. The most amazing assortment of objects were thus confiscated; statuettes, bottles of ink, bed-spreads worked with the Imperial monogram, candles, a small oil-painting, desk blotters, gold-handled swords, cakes of soap, clothes of every description, blankets. One Red Guard carried three rifles, two of which he had taken away from yunkers; another had four portfolios bulging with written documents. The culprits either sullenly surrendered or pleaded like children. All talking at once the committee explained that stealing was not worthy of the people’s champions; often those who had been caught turned around and began to help go through the rest of the comrades.[3]

Yunkers came out, in bunches of three or four. The committee seized upon them with an excess of zeal, accompanying the search with remarks like, “Ah, Provocators! Kornilovists! Counter-revolutionists! Murderers of the People!” But there was no violence done, although the yunkers were terrified. They too had their pockets full of small plunder. It was carefully noted down by the scribe, and piled in the little room&…. The yunkers were disarmed. “Now, will you take up arms against the People any more?” demanded clamouring voices.

“No,” answered the yunkers, one by one. Whereupon they were allowed to go free.

We asked if we might go inside. The committee was doubtful, but the big Red Guard answered firmly that it was forbidden. “Who are you anyway?” he asked. “How do I know that you are not all Kerenskys? (There were five of us, two women.)

“Pazhal’st’, touarishtchi! Way, Comrades!” A soldier and a Red Guard appeared in the door, waving the crowd aside, and other guards with fixed bayonets. After them followed single file half a dozen men in civilian dress—the members of the Provisional Government. First came Kishkin, his face drawn and pale, then Rutenberg, looking sullenly at the floor; Terestchenko was next, glancing sharply around; he stared at us with cold fixity&…. They passed in silence; the victorious insurrectionists crowded to see, but there were only a few angry mutterings. It was only later that we learned how the people in the street wanted to lynch them, and shots were fired—but the sailors brought them safely to Peter-Paul&….

In the meanwhile unrebuked we walked into the Palace. There was still a great deal of coming and going, of exploring new-found apartments in the vast edifice, of searching for hidden garrisons of yunkers which did not exist. We went upstairs and wandered through room after room. This part of the Palace had been entered also by other detachments from the side of the Neva. The paintings, statues, tapestries and rugs of the great state apartments were unharmed; in the offices, however, every desk and cabinet had been ransacked, the papers scattered over the floor, and in the living rooms beds had been stripped of their coverings and ward-robes wrenched open. The most highly prized loot was clothing, which the working people needed. In a room where furniture was stored we came upon two soldiers ripping the elaborate Spanish leather upholstery from chairs. They explained it was to make boots with&….

The old Palace servants in their blue and red and gold uniforms stood nervously about, from force of habit repeating, “You can’t go in there, barin! It is forbidden—” We penetrated at length to the gold and malachite chamber with crimson brocade hangings where the Ministers had been in session all that day and night, and where the shveitzari had betrayed them to the Red Guards. The long table covered with green baize was just as they had left it, under arrest. Before each empty seat was pen and ink and paper; the papers were scribbled over with beginnings of plans of action, rough drafts of proclamations and manifestos. Most of these were scratched out, as their futility became evident, and the rest of the sheet covered with absent-minded geometrical designs, as the writers sat despondently listening while Minister after Minister proposed chimerical schemes. I took one of these scribbled pages, in the hand writing of Konovalov, which read, “The Provisional Government appeals to all classes to support the Provisional Government—”

All this time, it must be remembered, although the Winter Palace was surrounded, the Government was in constant communication with the Front and with provincial Russia. The Bolsheviki had captured the Ministry of War early in the morning, but they did not know of the military telegraph office in the attic, nor of the private telephone line connecting it with the Winter Palace. In that attic a young officer sat all day, pouring out over the country a flood of appeals and proclamations; and when he heard that the Palace had fallen, put on his hat and walked calmly out of the building&….

Interested as we were, for a considerable time we didn’t notice a change in the attitude of the soldiers and Red Guards around us. As we strolled from room to room a small group followed us, until by the time we reached the great picture-gallery where we had spent the afternoon with the yunkers, about a hundred men surged in after us. One giant of a soldier stood in our path, his face dark with sullen suspicion.

“Who are you?” he growled. “What are you doing here?” The others massed slowly around, staring and beginning to mutter. “Provocatori!” I heard somebody say. “Looters!” Fascmile of the beginning of a proclamation, written in pencil by A. I. Konovalov, Minister of Commerce and Industry in the Provisional Government, and then scratched out as the hopeless of the situation became more and more evident. The geometrical figure beneath was probably idly drawn while the Ministers were waiting for the end. I produced our passes from the Military Revolutionary Committee. The soldier took them gingerly, turned them upside down and looked at them without comprehension. Evidently he could not read. He handed them back and spat on the floor. “Bumagi! Papers!” said he with contempt. The mass slowly began to close in, like wild cattle around a cowpuncher on foot. Over their heads I caught sight of an officer, looking helpless, and shouted to him. He made for us, shouldering his way through.

“I’m the Commissar,” he said to me. “Who are you? What is it?” The others held back, waiting. I produced the papers.

“You are foreigners?” he rapidly asked in Franch. “It is very dangerous&….” Then he turned to the mob, holding up our documents. “Comrades!” he cried. “These people are foreign comrades—from America. They have come here to be able to tell their countrymen about the bravery and the revolutionary discipline of the proletarian army!”

“How do you know that?” replied the big soldier. “I tell you they are provocators! They say they came here to observe the revolutionary discipline of the proletarian army, but they have been wandering freely through the Palace, and how do we know they haven’t got their pockets full of loot?”

“Pravilno!” snarled the others, pressing forward.

“Comrades! Comrades!” appealed the officer, sweat standing out on his forehead. “I am Commissar of the Military Revolutionary Committee. Do you trust me? Well, I tell you that these passes are signed with the same names that are signed to my pass!”

He led us down through the Palace and out through a door opening onto the Neva quay, before which stood the usual committee going through pockets— “You have narrowly escaped,” he kept muttering, wiping his face.

“What happened to the Women’s Battalion?” we asked.

“Oh—the women!” He laughed. “They were all huddled up in a back room. We had a terrible time deciding what to do with them—many were in hysterics, and so on. So finally we marched them up to the Finland Station and put them on a train for Levashovo, where they have a camp.&…[4]

We came out into the cold, nervous night, murmurous with obscure armies on the move, electric with patrols. From across the river, where loomed the darker mass of Peter-Paul, came a hoarse shout&…. Underfoot the sidewalk was littered with broken stucco, from the cornice of the Palace where two shells from the battleship Avrora had struck; that was the only damage done by the bombardment&….

It was now after three in the morning. On the Nevsky all the street-lights were again shining, the cannon gone, and the only signs of war were Red Guards and soldiers squatting around fires. The city was quiet—probably never so quiet in its history; on that night not a single hold-up occurred, not a single robbery.

But the City Duma Building was all illuminated. We mounted to the galleried Alexander Hall, hung with its great, gold-framed, red-shrouded Imperial portraits. About a hundred people were grouped around the platform, where Skobeliev was speaking. He urged that the Committee of Public Safety be expanded, so as to unite all the anti-Bolshevik elements in one huge organisation, to be called the Committee for Salvation of Country and Revolution. And as we looked on, the Committee for Salvation was formed—that Committee which was to develop into the most powerful enemy of the Bolsheviki, appearing, in the next week, sometimes under its own partisan name, and sometimes as the strictly non-partisan Committee of Public Safety&….

Dan, Gotz, Avkesntiev were there, some of the insurgent Soviet delegates, members of the Executive Committee of the Peasants’ Soviets, old Prokopovitch, and even members of the Council of the Republic—among whom Vinaver and other Cadets. Lieber cried that the convention of Soviets was not a legal convention, that the old Tsay-ee-kah was still in office&…. An appeal to the country was drafted.

We hailed a cab. “Where to?” But when we said “Smolny,” the izvoshtchik shook his head. “Niet!” said he, “there are devils&….” It was only after weary wandering that we found a driver willing to take us—and he wanted thirty rubles, and stopped two blocks away.

The windows of Smolny were still ablaze, motors came and went, and around the still-leaping fires the sentries huddled close, eagerly asking everybody the latest news. The corridors were full of hurrying men, hollow-eyed and dirty. In some of the committee-rooms people lay sleeping on the floor, their guns beside them. In spite of the seceding delegates, the hall of meetings was crowded with people, roaring like the sea. As we came in, Kameniev was reading the list of arrested Ministers. The name of Terestchenko was greeted with thunderous applause, shouts of satisfaction, laughter; Rutenburg came in for less; and at the mention of Paltchinsky, a storm of hoots, angry cries, cheers burst forth&…. It was announced that Tchudnovsky had been appointed Commissar of the Winter Palace.

Now occurred a dramatic interruption. A big peasant, his bearded face convulsed with rage, mounted the platform and pounded with his fist on the presidium table.

“We, Socialist Revolutionaries, insist upon the immediate release of the Socialist Ministers arrested in the Winter Palace! Comrades! Do you know that four comrades who risked their lives and their freedom fighting against tyranny of the Tsar, have been flung into Peter-Paul prison—the historical tomb of Liberty?” In the uproar he pounded and yelled. Another delegate climbed up beside him, and pointed at the presidium.

“Are the representatives of the revolutionary masses going to sit quietly here while the Okhrana of the Bolsheviki tortures their leaders?”

Trotzky was gesturing for silence. “These ‘comrades’ who are now caught plotting the crushing of the Soviets with the adventurer Kerensky—is there any reason to handle them with gloves? After July 16th and 18th they didn’t use much ceremony with us!” With a triumphant ring in his voice he cried, “Now that the oborontsi and the faint-hearted have gone, and the whole task of defending and saving the Revolution rests on our shoulders, it is particularly necessary to work—work—work! We have decided to die rather than give up!”

Followed him a Commissar from Tsarskoye Selo, panting and covered with the mud of his ride. “The garrison of Tsarskoye Selo is on guard at the gates of Petrograd, ready to defend the Soviets and the Military Revolutionary Committee!” Wild cheers. “The Cycle Corps sent from the front has arrived at Tsarskoye, and the soldiers are now with us; they recognise the power of the Soviets, the necessity of immediate transfer of land to the peasants and industrial control to the workers. The Fifth Battalion of Cyclists, stationed at Tsarskoye, is ours&….

Then the delegate of the Third Cycle Battalion. In the midst of delirious enthusiasm he told how the cycle corps had been ordered three days before from the South-west front to the “defence of Petrograd.” They suspected, however, the meaning of the order; and at the station of Peredolsk were met by representatives of the Fifth Battalion from Tsarskoye. A joint meeting was held, and it was discovered that “among the cyclists not a single man was found willing to shed the blood of his brothers, or to support a Government of bourgeois and land-owners!”

Kapelinski, for the Mensheviki Internationalists, proposed to elect a special committee to find a peaceful solution to the civil war. “There isn’t any peaceful solution!” bellowed the crowed. “Victory is the only solution!” The vote was overwhelmingly against, and the Mensheviki Internationalists left the Congress in a Whirlwind of Jocular insults. There was no longer any panic fear&…. Kameniev from the platform shouted after them, “The Mensheviki Internationalists claimed ‘emergency’ for the question of a ‘peaceful solution,’ but they always voted for suspension of the order of the day in favour of declarations of factions which wanted to leave the Congress. It is evident,” finished Kameniev, “that the withdrawal of all these renegades was decided upon beforehand!”

The assembly decided to ignore the withdrawal of the factions, and proceed to the appeal to the workers, soldiers and peasants of all Russia:

To Workers, Soldiers And Peasants

The Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies has opened. It represents the great majority of the Soviets. There are also a number of Peasant deputies. Based upon the will of the great majority of the workers’, soldiers and peasants, based upon the triumphant uprising of the Petrograd workmen and soldiers, the Congress assumes the Power.

The Provisional Government is deposed. Most of the members of the Provisional Government are already arrested.

The Soviet authority will at once propose an immediate democratic peace to all nations, and an immediate truce on all fronts. It will assure the free transfer of landlord, crown and monastery lands to the Land Committees, defend the soldiers rights, enforcing a complete democratisation of the Army, establish workers’ control over production, ensure the convocation of the Constituent Assembly at the proper date, take means to supply bread to the cities and articles of first necessity to the villages, and secure to all nationalities living in Russia a real right to independent existence.

The Congress resolves: that all local power shall be transferred to the Soviets of Workers,’ Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, which must enforce revolutionary order.

The Congress calls upon the soldiers in the trenches to be watchful and steadfast. The Congress of Soviets is sure that the revolutionary Army will know how to defend the Revolution against all attacks of Imperialism, until the new Government shall have brought about the conclusion of the democratic peace which it will directly propose to all nations. The new Government will take all necessary steps to secure everything needful to the revolutionary Army, by means of a determined policy of requisition and taxation of the propertied classes, and also to improve the situation of soldiers’ families.

The Kornilovitz—Kerensky, Kaledin and others, are endeavouring to lead troops against Petrograd. Several regiments, deceived by Kerensky, have sided with the insurgent People.

Soldiers! Make active resistance to the Kornilovitz—Kerensky! Be on guard!

Railway men! Stop all troop-trains being sent by Kerensky against Petrograd!

Soldiers, Workers, Clerical employees! The destiny of the Revolution and democratic peace is in your hands!

Long live the Revolution!

The All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. Delegates from the Peasants’ Soviets.

It was exactly 5:17 A.M. when Krylenko, staggering with fatigue, climbed to the tribune with a telegram in his hand.

“Comrades! From the Northern Front. The Twelfth Army sends greetings to the Congress of Soviets, announcing the formation of a Military Revolutionary Committee which has taken over the command of the Northern Front!” Pandemonium, men weeping, embracing each other. “General Tchermissov has recognised the Committee—Commissar of the Provisional Government Voitinsky has resigned!”

So. Lenin and the Petrograd workers had decided on insurrection, the Petrograd Soviet had overthrown the Provisional Government, and thrust the coup d’etat upon the Congress of Soviets. Now there was all great Russia to win—and then the world! Would Russia follow and rise? And the world—what of it? Would the peoples answer and rise, a red world-tide?

Although it was six in the morning, night was yet heavy and chill. There was only a faint unearthly pallor stealing over the silent streets, dimming the watch-fires, the shadow of a terrible dawn grey-rising over Russia&…. Footnotes

[1] Events Of November 7th From 4 A. M. until dawn Kerensky remained at the Petrograd Staff Headquarters, sending orders to the Cossacks and to the yunkers in the Officers’ Schools in and around Petrograd—all of whom answered that they were unable to move.

Colonel Polkovnikov, Commandant of the City, hurried between the Staff and the Winter Palace, evidently without any plan. Kerensky gave an order to open the bridges; three hours passed without any action, and then an officer and five men went out on their own initiative, and putting to flight a picket of Red Guards, opened the Nicolai Bridge. Immediately after they left, however, some sailors closed it again.

Kerensky ordered the print-shop of Rabotchi Put to be occupied. The officer detailed to the work was promised a squad of soldiers; two hours later he was promised some yunkers; then the order was forgotten.

An attempt was made to recapture the Post Office and the Telegraph Agency; a few shots were fired, and the Government troops announced that they would no longer oppose the Soviets.

To a delegation of yunkers Kerensky said, “As chief of the Provisional Government and as Supreme Commander I know nothing, I cannot advise you; but as a veteran revolutionist, I appeal to you, young revolutionists, to remain at your posts and defend the conquests of the Revolution.”

Orders of Kishkin, November 7th:

“By decree of the Provisional Government…. I am invested with extraordinary powers for the reestablishment of order in Petrograd, in complete command of all civil and military authorities….”

“In accordance with the powers conferred upon me by the Provisional Government, I herewith relieve from his functions as Commandant of the Petrograd Military District Colonel George Polkovnikov….”

Appeal to the Population signed by Vice-Premier Konovalov, November 7th:

“Citizens! Save the fatherland, the republic and your freedom. Maniacs have raised a revolt against the only governmental power chosen by the people, the Provisional Government….

“The members of the Provisional Government fulfil their duty, remain at their post, and continue to work for the good of the fatherland, the reestablishment of order, and the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, future sovereign of Russia and of all the Russian peoples….

“Citizens, you must support the Provisional Government. You must strengthen its authority. You must oppose these maniacs, with whom are joined all enemies of liberty and order, and the followers of the Tsarist ré#233;gime, in order to wreck the Constituent Assembly, destroy the conquests of the Revolution, and the future of our dear fatherland….

“Citizens! Organise around the Provisional Government for the defence of its temporary authority, in the name of order and the happiness of all peoples….”

Proclamation of the Provisional Government.

“The Petrograd Soviet…. has declared the Provisional Government overthrown, and has demanded that the Governmental power be turned over to it, under threat of bombarding the Winter Palace with the cannon of Peter-Paul Fortress, and of the cruiser Avrora, anchored in the Neva.

“The Government can surrender its authority only to the Consituent Assembly; for that reason it has decided not to submit, and to demand aid from the population and the Army. A telegram has been sent to the Stavka; and an answer received says that a strong detachment of troops is being sent….

“Let the Army and the People reject the irresponsible attempts of the Bolsheviki to create a revolt in the rear….”

About 9 A. M. Kerensky left for the Front….

Toward evening two soldiers on bicycles presented themselves at the Staff Headquarters, as delegates of the garrison of Peter-Paul Fortress. Entering the meeting-room of the Staff, where Kishkin, Rutenburg, Paltchinski, General Bagratouni, Colonel Paradielov and Count Tolstoy were gathered, they demanded the immediate surrender of the Staff; threatening, in case of refusal, to bombard headquarters…. After two panicky conferences the Staff retreated to the Winter Palace, and the headquarters were occupied by Red Guards….

Late in the afternoon several Bolshevik armoured cars cruised around the Palace Square, and Soviet soldiers tried unsuccessfully to parley with the yunkers….

Firing on the Palace began about 7 o’clock in the evening….

At 10 P. M. began an artillery bombardment from three sides, in which most of the shells were blanks, only three small shrapnels striking the facade of the Palace….

[2]Kerensky In Flight Leaving Petrograd in the morning of November 7th, Kerensky arrived by automobile at Gatchina, where he demanded a special train. Toward evening he was in Ostrov, Province of Pskov. The next morning, extraordinary session of the local Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Depulies, with participation of Cossack delegates—there being 6,000 Cossacks at Ostrov.

Kerensky spoke to the assembly, appealing for aid against the Bolsheviki, and addressed himself almost exclusively to the Cossacks. The soldier delegates protested.

“Why did you come here?” shouted voices. Kerensky answered, “To ask the Cossacks’ assistance in crushing the Bolshevik insurrection!” At this there were violent protestations, which increased when he continued, “I broke the Kornilov attempt, and I will break the Bolsheviki!” The noise became so great that he had to leave the platform….

The soldier deputies and the Ussuri Cossacks decided to arrest Kerensky, but the Don Cossacks prevented them, and got him away by train…. A Military Revolutionary Committee, set up during the day, tried to inform the garrison of Pskov; but the telephone and telegraph lines were cut….

Kerensky did not arrive at Pskov. Revolutionary soldiers had cut the railway line, to prevent troops being sent against the capital. On the night of November 8th he arrived by automobile at Luga, where he was well received by the Death Battalions stationed there.

Next day he took train for the South-West Front, and visited the Army Committee at headquarters. The Fifth Army, however, was wild with enthusiasm over the news of the Bolshevik success, and the Army Committee was unable to promise Kerensky any support.

From there he went to the Stavka, at Moghilev, where he ordered ten regiments from different parts of the Front to move against Petrograd. The soldiers almost unanimously refused; and those regiments which did start halted on the way. About five thousand Cossacks finally followed him….

[3]Looting Of The Winter Palace I do not mean to maintain that there was no looting, in the Winter Palace. Both after and before the Winter Palace fell, there was considerable pilfering. The statement of the Socialist Revolutionary paper Narod, and of members of the City Duma, to the effect that precious objects to the value of 500,000,000 rubles had been stolen, was, however, a gross exaggeration.

The most important art treasures of the Palace—paintings, statues, tapestries, rare porcelains and armorie,—had been transferred to Moscow during the month of September; and they were still in good order in the basement of the Imperial Palace there ten days after the capture of the Kremlin by Bolshevik troops. I can personally testify to this….

Individuals, however, especially the general public, which was allowed to circulate freely through the Winter Palace for several days after its capture, made away with table silver, clocks, bedding, mirrors and some odd vases of valuable porcelain and semi-precious stone, to the value of about $50,000.

The Soviet Government immediately created a special commission, composed of artists and archæologists, to recover the stolen objects. On November 1st two proclamations were issued: “CITIZENS OF PETROGRAD!

“We urgently ask all citizens to exert every effort to find whatever possible of the objects stolen from the Winter Palace in the night of November 7-8, and to forward them to the Commandant of the Winter Palace.

“Receivers of stolen goods, antiquarians, and all who are proved to be hiding such objects will be held legally responsible and punished with all severity.

“Commissars for the Protection of Museums and Artistic Collections, “G. Yatmanov, B. Mandelbaum” “To Regimental And Fleet Committees

“In the night of November 7-8, in the Winter Palace, which is the inalienable property of the Russian people, valuable objects of art were stolen.

“We urgently appeal to all to exert every effort, so that the stolen objects are returned to the Winter Palace.

“Commissars…. “G. Yatmanov, B. Mandelbaum.”

About half the loot was recovered, some of it in the baggage of foreigners leaving Russia.

A conference of artists and archæologists, held at the suggestion of Smolny, appointed a commission of make an inventory of the Winter Palace treasures, which was given complete charge of the Palace and of all artistic collections and State museums in Petrograd. On November 16th the Winter Palace was closed to the public while the inventory was being made….

During the last week in November a decree was issued by the Council of People’s Commissars, changing the name of the Winter Palace to “People’s Museum,” entrusting it to the complete charge of the artistic-archæological commission, and declaring that henceforth all Governmental activities within its wall were prohibited….

[4]Rape Of The Women’s Battalion Immediately following the taking of the Winter Palace all sorts of sensational stories were published in the anti-Bolshevik press, and told in the City Duma, about the fate of the Women’s Battalion defending the Palace. It was said that some of the girl-soldiers had been thrown from the windows into the street, most of the rest had been violated, and many had committed suicide as a result of the horrors they had gone through.

The City Duma appointed a commission to investigate the matter. On November 16th the commission returned from Levashovo, headquarters of the Women’s Battalion. Madame Tyrkova reported that the girls had been at first taken to the barracks of the Pavlovsky Regiment, and that there some of them had been badly treated; but that at present most of them were at Levashovo, and the rest scattered about the city in private houses. Dr. Mandelbaum, another of the commission, testified drily that none of the women had been thrown out of the windows of the Winter Palace, that none were wounded, that three had been violated, and that one had committed suicide, leaving a note which said that she had been “disappointed in her ideals.”

On November 21st the Military Revolutionary Committee officially dissolved the Women’s Battalion, at the request of the girls themselves, who returned to civilian clothes.

In Louise Bryant’s book, “Six Red Months in Russia,” there is an interesting description of the girl-soldiers during this time.

Chapter V Plunging Ahead

THURSDAY, November 8th. Day broke on a city in the wildest excitement and confusion, a whole nation having up in long hissing swells of storm. Superficially all was quiet; hundreds of thousands of people retired at a prudent hour, got up early, and went to work. In Petrograd the street-cars were running, the stores and restaurants open, theatres going, an exhibition of paintings advertised&… All the complex routine of common life—humdrum even in war-time—proceeded as usual. Nothing is so astounding as the vitality of the social organism—how it persists, feeding itself, clothing itself, amusing itself, in the face of the worst calamities&…

The air was full of rumours about Kerensky, who was said to have raised the Front, and to be leading a great army against the capital. Volia Naroda published a prikaz launched by him at Pskov:

The disorders caused by the insane attempt of the Bolsheviki place the country on the verge of a precipice, and demand the effort of our entire will, our courage and the devotion of every one of us, to win through the terrible trial which the fatherland is undergoing&…

Until the declaration of the composition of the new Government—if one is formed—every one ought to remain at his post and fulfil his duty toward bleeding Russia. It must be remembered that the least interference with existing Army organisations can bring on irreparable misfortunes, by opening the Front to the enemy. Therefore it is indispensable to preserve at any price the morale of the troops, by assuring complete order and the preservation of the Army from new shocks, and by maintaining absolute confidence between officers and their subordinates. I order all the chiefs and Commissars, in the name of the safety of the country, to stay at their posts, as I myself retain the post of Supreme Commander, until the Provisional Government of the Republic shall declare its will&…

In answer, this placard on all the walls: From The All-Russian Congress Of Soviets

“The ex-Ministers Konovalov, Kishkin, Terestchenko, Maliantovitch, Nikitin and others have been arrested by the Military Revolutionary Committee. Kerensky has fled. All Army organisations are ordered to take every measure for the immediate arrest of Kerensky and his conveyance to Petrograd.

“All assistance given to Kerensky will be punished as a serious crime against the state.”

With brakes released the Military Revolutionary Committee whirled, throwing off orders, appeals, decrees, like sparks. Kornilov was ordered brought to Petrograd. Members of the Peasant Land Committees imprisoned by the Provisional Government were declared free. Capital punishment in the army was abolished. Government employees were ordered to continue their work, and threatened with severe penalties if they refused. All pillage, disorder and speculation were forbidden under pain of death. Temporary Commissars were appointed to the various Ministries: Foreign Affairs, Vuritsky and Trotzky; Interior and Justice, Rykov; Labor, Shliapnikov; Finance, Menzhinsky; Public Welfare, Madame Kollontai; Commerce, Ways and Communications, Riazanov; Navy, the sailor Korbir; Posts and Telegraphs, Spiro; Theatres, Muraviov; State Printing Office, Gherbychev; for the City of Petrograd, Lieutenant Nesterov; for the Northern Front, Pozern&…

To the Army, appeal to set up Military Revolutionary Committees. To the railway workers, to maintain order, especially not to delay the transport of food to the cities and the front&… In return, they were promised representation in the Ministry of Ways and Communications.

Cossack brothers! (said one proclamation). You are being led against Petrograd. They want to force you into battle with the revolutionary workers and soldiers of the capital. Do not believe a word that is said by our common enemies, the land-owners and the capitalists.

At our Congress are represented all the conscious organisations of workers, soldiers and peasants of Russia. The Congress wishes also to welcome into its midst the worker-Cossacks. The Generals of the Black Band, henchmen of the land-owners, of Nicolai the Cruel, are our enemies.

They tell you that the Soviets wish to confiscate the lands of the Cossacks. This is a lie. It is only from the great Cossack landlords that the Revolution will confiscate the land to give it to the people.

Organise Soviets of Cossacks’ Deputies! Join with the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies!

Show the Black Band that you are not traitors to the People, and that you do not wish to be cursed by the whole of revolutionary Russia!—

Cossack brothers, execute no orders of the enemies of the people. Send your delegates to Petrograd to talk it over with us&… The Cossacks of the Petrograd garrison, to their honour, have not justified the hope of the People’s enemies&…

Cossack brothers! The All-Russian Congress of Soviets extends to you a fraternal hand. Long live the brotherhood of the Cossacks with the soldiers, workers and peasants of all Russia!

On the other side, what a storm of proclamations posted up, hand-bills scattered everywhere, newspapers—screaming and cursing and prophesying evil. Now raged the battle of the printing press—all other weapons being in the hands of the Soviets.

First, the appeal of the Committee for Salvation of Country and Revolution, flung broadcast over Russia and Europe: To The Citizens Of The Russian Republic!

Contrary to the will of the revolutionary masses, on November 7th the Bolsheviki of Petrograd criminally arrested part of the Provisional Government, dispersed the Council of the Republic, and proclaimed an illegal power. Such violence committed against the Government of revolutionary Russia at the moment of its greatest external danger, is an indescribable crime against the fatherland.

The insurrection of the Bolsheviki deals a mortal blow to the cause of national defence, and postpones immeasurably the moment of peace so greatly desired.

Civil war, begun by the Bolsheviki, threatens to deliver the country to the horrors of anarchy and counter-revolution, and cause the failure of the Constituent Assembly, which must affirm the republican régime and transmit to the People forever their right to the land.

Preserving the continuity of the only legal Governmental power, the Committee for Salvation of Country and Revolution, established on the night of November 7th, takes the initiative in forming a new Provisional Government; which, basing itself on the forces of democracy, will conduct the country to the Constituent Assembly and save it from anarchy and counter-revolution. The Committee for Salvation summons you, citizens, to refuse to recognise the power of violence. Do not obey its orders!

Rise for the defence of the country and Revolution!

Support the Committee for Salvation!

Signed by the Council of the Russian Republic, the Municipal Duma of Petrograd, the Tsay-ee-kah (First Congress), the Executive Committee of the Peasants’ Soviets, and from the Congress itself the Front group, the factions of Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviki, Populist Socialists, Unified Social Democrats, and the group “Yedinstvo.”

Then posters from the Socialist Revolutionary party, the Mensheviki oborontsi, Peasants’ Soviets again; from the Central Army Committee, the Tsentroflot&…

— Famine will crush Petrograd! (they cried). The German armies will trample on our liberty. Black Hundred pogroms will spread over Russia, if we all—conscious workers, soldiers, citizens—do not unite&…

Do not trust the promises of the Bolsheviki! The promise of immediate peace—is a lie! The promise of bread—a hoax! The promise of land—a fairy tale!—

They were all in this manner.

Comrades! You have been basely and cruelly deceived! The seizure of power has been accomplished by the Bolsheviki alone&… They concealed their plot from the other Socialist parties composing the Soviet&…

You have been promised land and freedom, but the counter-revolution will profit by the anarchy called forth by the Bolsheviki, and will deprive you of land and freedom&…

The newspapers were as violent.

Our duty (said the Dielo Naroda) is to unmask these traitors to the working-class. Our duty is to mobilise all our forces and mount guard over the cause of the Revolution!—

Izviestia, for the last time speaking in the name of the old Tsay-ee-kah, threatened awful retribution.

As for the Congress of Soviets, we affirm that there has been no Congress of Soviets! We affirm that it was merely a private conference of the Bolshevik faction! And in that case, they have no right to cancel the powers of the Tsay-ee-kah&…

Novaya Zhizn, while pleading for a new Government that should unite all the Socialist parties, criticised severely the action of the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Mensheviki in quitting the Congress, and pointed out that the Bolshevik insurrection meant one thing very clearly: that all illusions about coalition with the bourgeoisie were henceforth demonstrated vain—

Rabotchi Put blossomed out as Pravda, Lenin’s newspaper which had been suppressed in July. It crowed, bristling:

Workers, soldiers, peasants! In March you struck down the tyranny of the clique of nobles. Yesterday you struck down the tyranny of the bourgeois gang&…

The first task now is to guard the approaches to Petrograd.

The second is definitely to disarm the counter-revolutionary elements of Petrograd.

The third is definitely to organise the revolutionary power and assure the realisation of the popular programme&…

What few Cadet organs appeared, and the bourgeoisie generally, adopted a detached, ironical attitude toward the whole business, a sort of contemptuous “I-told-you-so” to the other parties. Influential Cadets were to be seen hovering around the Municipal Duma, and on the outskirts of the Committee for Salvation. Other than that, the bourgeoisie lay low, biding its hour—which could not far off. That the Bolsheviki would remain in power longer than three days never occurred to anybody—except perhaps to Lenin, Trotzky, the Petrograd workers and the simpler soldiers&…

In the high, amphitheatrical Nicolai Hall that afternoon I saw the Duma sitting in permanence, tempestuous, grouping around it all the forces of opposition. The old Mayer, Schreider, majestic with his white hair and beard, was describing his visit to Smolny the night before, to protest in the name of the Municipal Self-Government. “The Duma, being the only existing legal Government in the city, elected by equal, direct and secret suffrage, would not recognise the new power,” he had told Trotzky. And Trotzky had answered, “There is a constitutional remedy for that. The Duma can be dissolved and re-elected&…” At this report there was a furious outcry.

“If one recognises a Government by bayonet,” continued the old man, addressing the Duma, “well, we have one; but I consider legitimate only a Government recognised by the majority, and not one created by the usurpation of a minority!” Wild applause on all benches except those of the Bolsheviki. Amid renewed tumult the Mayor announced that the Bolsheviki already were violating Municipal autonomy by appointing Commissars in many departments.

The Bolshevik speaker shouted, trying to make himself heard, that the decision of the Congress of Soviets meant that all Russia backed up the action of the Bolsheviki.

“You!” he cried. “You are not the real representative of the people of Petrograd!” Shrieks of “Insult! Insult!” The old Mayor, with dignity, reminded him that the Duma was elected by the freest possible popular vote. “Yes,” he answered, “but that was a long time ago—like the Tsay-ee-kah—like the Army Committee.”

“There has been no new Congress of Soviets!” they yelled at him.

“The Bolshevik faction refuses to remain any longer in this nest of counter-revolution—” Uproar. “—and we demand a re-election of the Duma&…” Whereupon the Bolsheviki left the chamber, followed by cries of “German agents! Down with the traitors!”

Shingariov, Cadet, then demanded that all Municipal functionaries who had consented to be Commissars of the Military Revolutionary Committee be discharged from their position and indicted. Schreider was on his feet, putting a motion to the effect that the Duma protested against the menace of the Bolsheviki to dissolve it, and as the legal representative of the population, it would refuse to leave its post.

Outside, the Alexander Hall was crowded for the meeting of the Committee for Salvation, and Skobeliev was again speaking. “Never yet,” he said, “was the fate of the Revolution so acute, never yet did the question of the existence of the Russian state excite so much anxiety, never yet did history put so harshly and categorically the question—is Russia to be or not to be! The great hour for the salvation of the Revolution has arrived, and in consciousness thereof we observe the close union of the live forces of the revolutionary democracy, by whose organised will a centre for the salvation of the country and the Revolution has already been created&…” And much of the same sort. “We shall die sooner than surrender our post!”

Amid violent applause it was announced that the Union of Railway Workers had joined the Committee for Salvation. A few moments later the Post and Telegraph Employees came in; then some Mensheviki Internationalists entered the hall, to cheers. The Railway men said they did not recognise the Bolsheviki and had taken the entire railroad apparatus into their own hands, refusing to entrust it to any usurpatory power. The Telegraphers’ delegate declared that the operators had flatly refused to work their instruments as long as the Bolshevik Commissar was in the office. The Postmen would not deliver or accept mail at Smolny&… All the Smolny telephones were cut off. With great glee it was reported how Uritzky had gone to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to demand the secret treaties, and how Neratov had put him out. The Government employees were all stopping work&…

It was war—war deliberately planned, Russian fashion; war by strike and sabotage. As we sat there the chairman read a list of names and assignments; so-and-so was to make the round of the Ministries; another was to visit the banks; some ten or twelve were to work the barracks and persuade the soldiers to remain neutral—“Russian soldiers, do not shed the blood of your brothers!”; a committee was to go and confer with Kerensky; still others were despatched to provincial cities, to form branches of the Committee for Salvation, and link together the anti-Bolshevik elements.

The crowd was in high spirits. “These Bolsheviki will try to dictate to the intelligentzia? We’ll show them!”— Nothing could be more striking than the contrast between this assemblage and the Congress of Soviets. There, great masses of shabby soldiers, grimy workmen, peasants—poor men, bent and scarred in the brute struggle for existence; here the Menshevik and Social Revolutionary leaders—Avksentievs, Dans, Liebers,—the former Socialist Ministers—Skobelievs, Tchernovs,—rubbed shoulders with Cadets like oily Shatsky, sleek Vinaver; with journalists, students, intellectuals of almost all camps. This Duma crowd was well-fed, well-dressed; I did not see more than three proletarians among them all&…

News came. Kornilov’s faithful Tekhintsi[1] had slaughtered his guards at Bykhov, and he had escaped. Kaledin was marching north&… The Soviet of Moscow had set up a Military Revolutionary Committee, and was negotiating with the commandant of the city for possession of the arsenal, so that the workers might be armed.

With these facts was mixed an astounding jumble of rumours, distortions, and plain lies. For instance, an intelligent young Cadet, formerly private secretary to Miliukov and then to Terestchenko, drew us aside and told us all about the taking of the Winter Palace.

“The Bolsheviki were led by German and Austrian officers,” he affirmed.

“Is that so?” we replied, politely. “How do you know?”

“A friend of mine was there and saw them.”

“How could he tell they were German officers?”

“Oh, because they wore German uniforms!”

There were hundreds of such absurd tales, and they were not only solemnly published by the anti-Bolshevik press, but believed by the most unlikely persons—Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviki who had always been distinguished by their sober devotion to facts&…

But more serious were the stories of Bolshevik violence and terrorism. For example, it was said printed that the Red Guards had not only thoroughly looted the Winter Palace, but that they had massacred the yunkers after disarming them, had killed some of the Ministers in cold blood; and as for the woman soldiers, most of them had been violated, and many had committed suicide because of the tortures they had gone through&… All these stories were swallowed whole by the crowd in the Duma. And worse still, the mothers and fathers of the students and of the women read these frightful details, often accompanied by lists of names, and toward nightfall the Duma began to be besieged by frantic citizens&…

A typical case is that of Prince Tumanov, whose body, it was announced in many newspapers, had been found floating in the Moika Canal. A few hours later this was denied by the Prince’s family, who added that the Prince was under arrest so the press identified the dead man as General Demissov. The General having also come to life, we investigated, and could find no trace of any body found whatever&…

As we left the Duma building two boy scouts were distributing hand-bills[2] to the enormous crowd which blocked the Nevsky in front of the door—a crowd composed almost entirely of business men, shop-keepers, tchinouniki, clerks. One read!

From The Municipal Duma

The Municipal Duma in its meeting of October 26th, in view of the events of the day decrees: To announce the inviolability of private dwellings. Through the House Committees it calls upon the population of the town of Petrograd to meet with decisive repulse all attempts to enter by force private apartments, not stopping at the use of arms, in the interests of the self-defence of citizens.

Up on the corner of the Liteiny, five or six Red Guards and a couple of sailors had surrounded a news-dealer and were demanding that he hand over his copies of the Menshevik Rabot-chaya Gazeta (Workers’ Gazette). Angrily he shouted at them, shaking his fist, as one of the sailors tore the papers from his stand. An ugly crowd had gathered around, abusing the patrol. One little workman kept explaining doggedly to the people and the news-dealer, over and over again, “It has Kerensky’s proclamation in it. It says we killed Russian people. It will make bloodshed&…”

Smolny was tenser than ever, if that were possible. The same running men in the dark corridors, squads of workers with rifles, leaders with bulging portfolios arguing, explaining, giving orders as they hurried anxiously along, surrounded by friends and lieutenants. Men literally out of themselves, living prodigies of sleeplessness and work—men unshaven, filthy, with burning eyes, who drove upon their fixed purpose full speed on engines of exaltation. So much they had to do, so much! Take over the Government, organise the City, keep the garrison loyal, fight the Duma and the Committee for Salvation, keep out the Germans, prepare to do battle with Kerensky, inform the provinces what had happened, Propagandise from Archangel to Vladivostok&… Government and Municipal employees refusing to obey their Commissars, post and telegraph refusing them communication, railroads roads stonily ignoring their appeals for trains, Kerensky coming, the garrison not altogether to be trusted, the Cossacks waiting to come out&… Against them not only the organised bourgeoisie, but all the other Socialist parties except the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, a few Mensheviki Internationalists and the Social Democrat Internationalists, and even they undecided whether to stand by or not. With them, it is true, the workers and the soldier-masses—the peasants an unknown quantity—but after all the Bolsheviki were a political faction not rich in trained and educated men&…

Riazanov was coming up the front steps, explaining in a sort of humorous panic that he, Commissar of Commerce, knew nothing whatever of business. In the upstairs cafe sat a man all by himself in the corner, in a goat-skin cape and clothes which had been—I was going to say “slept in,” but of course he hadn’t slept—and a three days’ growth of beard. He was anxiously figuring on a dirty envelope, and biting his pencil meanwhile. This was Menzhinsky, Commissar of Finance, whose qualifications were that he had once been clerk in a French bank&… And these four half-running down the hall from the office of the Military Revolutionary Committee, and scribbling on bits of paper as they run—these were Commissars despatched to the four corners of Russia to carry the news, argue, or fight—with whatever arguments or weapons came to hand&…

The Congress was to meet at one o’clock, and long since the great meeting-hall had filled, but by seven there was yet no sign of the presidium&… The Bolshevik and Left Social Revolutionary factions were in session in their own rooms. All the livelong afternoon Lenin and Trotzky had fought against compromise. A considerable part of the Bolsheviki were in favour of giving way so far as to create a joint all-Socialist government. “We can’t hold on!” they cried.

“Too much is against us. We haven’t got the men. We will be isolated, and the whole thing will fall.” So Kameniev, Riazanov and others.

But Lenin, with Trotzky beside him, stood firm as a rock. “Let the compromisers accept our programme and they can come in! We won’t give way an inch. If there are comrades here who haven’t the courage and the will to dare what we dare, let them leave with the rest of the cowards and conciliators! Backed by the workers and soldiers we shall go on.”

At five minutes past seven came word from the left Socialist Revolutionaries to say that they would remain in the Military Revolutionary Committee.

“See!” said Lenin. “They are following!”

A little later, as we sat at the press table in the big hall, an Anarchist who was writing for the bourgeois papers proposed to me that we go and find out what had become of the presidium. There was nobody in the Tsay-ee-kah office, nor in the bureau of the Petrograd Soviet. From room to room we wandered, through vast Smolny. Nobody seemed to have the slightest idea where to find the governing body of the Congress. As we went my companion described his ancient revolutionary activities, his long and pleasant exile in France&… As for the Bolsheviki, he confided to me that they were common, rude, ignorant persons, without aesthetic sensibilities. He was a real specimen of the Russian intelligentzia&… So he came at last to Room 17, office of the Military Revolutionary Committee, and stood there in the midst of all the furious coming and going. The door opened, and out shot a squat, flat-faced man in a uniform without insignia, who seemed to be smiling—which smile, after a minute, one saw to be the fixed grin of extreme fatigue. It was Krylenko.

My friend, who was a dapper, civilized-looking young man, gave a cry of pleasure and stepped forward.

“Nicolai Vasilievitch!” he said, holding out his hand. “Don’t you remember me, comrade? We were in prison together.”

Krylenko made an effort and concentrated his mind and sight. “Why yes,” he answered finally, looking the other up and down with an expression of great friendliness. “You are S&… Zdra’stvuitye!” They kissed. “What are you doing in all this?” He waved his arm around.

“Oh, I’am just looking on&… You seem very successful.”

“Yes,” replied Krylenko, with a sort of doggedness, “The proletarian Revolution is a great success.” He laughed. “Perhaps—perhaps, however, we’ll meet in prison again!”

When we got out into the corridor again my friend went on with his explanations. “You see, I’am a follower of Kropotkin. To us the Revolution is a great failure; it has not aroused the patriotism of the masses. Of course that only proves that the people are not ready for Revolution&…”

It was just 8:40 when a thundering wave of cheers announced the entrance of the presidium, with Lenin—great Lenin—among them. A short, stocky figure, with a big head set down in his shoulders, bald and bulging. Little eyes, a snubbish nose, wide, generous mouth, and heavy chin; clean-shaven now, but already beginning to bristle with the well-known beard of his past and future. Dressed in shabby clothes, his trousers much too long for him. Unimpressive, to be the idol of a mob, loved and revered as perhaps few leaders in history have been. A strange popular leader—a leader purely by virtue of intellect; colourless, humourless, uncompromising and detached, without picturesque idiosyncrasies—but with the power of explaining profound ideas in simple terms, of analysing a concrete situation. And combined with shrewdness, the greatest intellectual audacity.

Kameniev was reading the report of the actions of the Military Revolutionary Committee; abolition of capital punishment in the Army, restoration of the free right of propaganda, release of officers and soldiers arrested for political crimes, orders to arrest Kerensky and confiscation of food supplies in private store-houses&… Tremendous applause.

Again the representative of the Bund. The uncompromising attitude of the Bolsheviki would mean the crushing of the Revolution; therefore, the Bund delegates must refuse any longer to sit in the Congress. Cries from the audience, “We thought you walked out last night! How many times are you going to walk out?”

Then the representative of the Mensheviki Internationalists. Shouts, “What! You here still?” The speaker explained that only part of the Mensheviki Internationalists left the Congress; the rest were going to stay—

“We consider it dangerous and perhaps even mortal for the Revolution to transfer the power to the Soviets”—Interruptions—“but we feel it our duty to remain in the Congress and vote against the transfer here!”

Other speakers followed, apparently without any order. A delegate of the coal-miners of the Don Basin called upon the Congress to take measures against Kaledin, who might cut off coal and food from the capital. Several soldiers just arrived from the Front brought the enthusiastic greetings of their regiments&… Now Lenin, gripping the edge of the reading stand, letting his little winking eyes travel over the crowd as he stood there waiting, apparently oblivious to the long-rolling ovation, which lasted several minutes. When it finished, he said simply, “We shall now proceed to construct the Socialist order!” Again that overwhelming human roar.

“The first thing is the adoption of practical measures to realise peace&… We shall offer peace to the peoples of all the belligerent countries upon the basis of the Soviet terms—no annexations, no indemnities, and the right of self-determination of peoples. At the same time, according to our promise, we shall publish and repudiate the secret treaties&… The question of War and Peace is so clear that I think that I may, without preamble, read the project of a Proclamation to the Peoples of All the Belligerent Countries&…”

His great mouth, seeming to smile, opened wide as he spoke; his voice was hoarse—not unpleasantly so, but as if it had hardened that way after years and years of speaking—and went on monotonously, with the effect of being able to go on forever&… For emphasis he bent forward slightly. No gestures. And before him, a thousand simple faces looking up in intent adoration. Proclamation To The Peoples And Governments Of All The Belligerent Nations.

The Workers’ and Peasants’ Government, created by the revolution of November 6th and 7th and based on the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, proposes to all the belligerent peoples and to their Governments to begin immediately negotiations for a just and democratic peace.

The Government means by a just and democratic peace, which is desired by the immense majority of the workers and the labouring classes, exhausted and depleted by the war—that peace which the Russian workers and peasants, after having struck down the Tsarist monarchy, have not ceased to demand categorically—immediate peace without annexations (that is to say, without conquest of foreign territory, without forcible annexation of other nationalities), and without indemnities.

The Government of Russia Proposes to all the belligerent peoples immediately to conclude such a peace, by showing themselves willing to enter upon the decisive steps of negotiations aiming at such a peace, at once, without the slightest delay, before the definitive ratification of all the conditions of such a peace by the authorised assemblies of the people of all countries and of all nationalities.

By annexation or conquest of foreign territory, the Government means—conformably to the conception of democratic rights in general, and the rights of the working-class in particular—all union to a great and strong State of a small or weak nationality, without the voluntary, clear and precise expression of its consent and desire; whatever be the moment when such an annexation by force was accomplished, whatever be the degree civilisation of the nation annexed by force or maintained outside the frontiers of another State, no matter if that nation be in Europe or in the far countries across the sea.

If any nation is retained by force within the limits of another State; if, in spite of the desire expressed by it, (it matters little if that desire be expressed by the press, by popular meetings, decisions of political parties, or by disorders and riots against national oppression), that nation is not given the right of deciding by free vote—without the slightest constraint, after the complete departure of the armed forces of the nation which has annexed it or wishes to annex it or is stronger in general—the form of its national and political organisation, such a union constitutes an annexation—that is to say, conquest and an act of violence.

To continue this war in order to permit the strong and rich nations to divide among themselves the weak and conquered nationalities is considered by the Government the greatest possible crime against humanity; and the Government solemnly proclaims its decision to sign a treaty of peace which will put an end to this war upon the above conditions, equally fair for all nationalities without exception.

The Government abolishes secret diplomacy, expressing before the whole country its firm decision to conduct all the negotiations in the light of day before the people, and will proceed immediately to the full publication of all secret treaties confirmed or concluded by the Government of land-owners and capitalists, from March until November 7th, 1917. All the clauses of the secret treaties which, as occur in a majority of cases, have for their object to procure advantages and privileges for Russian capitalists, to maintain or augment the annexations of the Russian imperialists, are denounced by the Government immediately and without discussion.

In proposing to all Governments and all peoples to engage in public negotiations for peace, the Government declares itself ready to carry on these negotiations by telegraph, by post, or by pourparlers between the representatives of the different countries, or at a conference of these representatives. To facilitate these pourparlers, the Government appoints its authorised representatives in the neutral countries.

The Government proposes to all the governments and to the peoples of all the belligerent countries to conclude an immediate armistice, at the same time suggesting that the armistice ought to last three months, during which time it is perfectly possible, not only to hold the necessary pourparlers between the representatives of all the nations and nationalities without exception drawn into the war or forced to take part in it, but also to convoke authorised assemblies of representatives of the people of all countries, for the purpose of the definite acceptance of the conditions of peace.

In addressing this offer of peace to the Governments and to the peoples of all the belligerent countries, the Provisional Workers’ and Peasants’ Government of Russia addresses equally and in particular the conscious workers of the three nations most devoted to humanity and the three most important nations among those taking part in the present war—England, France, and Germany. The workers of these countries have rendered the greatest services to the cause of progress and of Socialism. The splendid examples of the Chartist movement in England, the series of revolutions, of world-wide historical significance, accomplished by the French proletariat—and finally, in Germany, the historic struggle against the Laws of Exception, an example for the workers of the whole world of prolonged and stubborn action, and the creation of the formidable organisations of German proletarians—all these models of proletarian heroism, these monuments of history, are for us a sure guarantee that the workers of these countries will understand the duty imposed upon them to liberate humanity from the horrors and consequences of war; and that these workers, by decisive, energetic and continued action, will help us to bring to a successful conclusion the cause of peace—and at the same time, the cause of the liberation of the exploited working masses from all slavery and all exploitation.

When the grave thunder of applause had died away, Lenin spoke again:

“We propose to the Congress to ratify this declaration. We address ourselves to the Governments as well as to the peoples, for a declaration which would be addressed only to the peoples of the belligerent countries might delay the conclusion of peace. The conditions of peace, drawn up during the armistice, will be ratified by the Constituent Assembly. In fixing the duration of the armistice at three months, we desire to give to the peoples as long a rest as possible after this bloody extermination, and ample time for them to elect their representatives. This proposal of peace will meet with resistance on the part of the imperialist governments—we don’t fool ourselves on that score. But we hope that revolution will soon break out in all the belligerent countries; that is why we address ourselves especially to the workers of France, England and Germany&…

“The revolution of November 6th and 7th,” he ended, “has opened the era of the Social Revolution&… The labour movement, in the name of peace and Socialism, shall win, and fulfil its destiny&…

There was something quiet and powerful in all this, which stirred the souls of men. It was understandable why people believed when Lenin spoke&…”

By crowd vote it was quickly decided that only representatives of political factions should be allowed to speak on the motion and that speakers should be limited to fifteen minutes.

First Karelin for the Left Socialist Revolutionaries. “Our faction had no opportunity to propose amendments to the text of the proclamation; it is a private document of the Bolsheviki. But we will vote for it because we agree with its spirit&…”

For the Social Democrats Internationalists Kramarov, long, stoop-shouldered and near-sighted—destined to achieve some notoriety as the Clown of the Opposition. Only a Government composed of all the Socialist parties, he said, could possess the authority to take such important action. If a Socialist coalition were formed, his faction would support the entire programme; if not, only part of it. As for the proclamation, the Internationalists were in thorough accord with its main points&…

Then one after another, amid rising enthusiasm; Ukrainean Social Democracy, support; Lithuanian Social Democracy, support; Populist Socialists, support; Polish Social Democracy, support; Polish Socialists support—but would prefer a Socialist coalition; Lettish Social Democracy, support&… Something was kindled in these men. One spoke of the “coming World-Revolution, of which we are the advance-guard”; another of “the new age of brotherhood, when all the peoples will become one great family&…” An individual member claimed the floor. “There is contradiction here,” he said. “First you offer peace without annexations and indemnities, and then you say you will consider all peace offers. To consider means to accept&…”

Lenin was on his feet. “We want a just peace, but we are not afraid of a revolutionary war&… Probably the imperialist Governments will not answer our appeal—but we shall not issue an ultimatum to which it will be easy to say no&… If the German proletariat realises that we are ready to consider all offers of peace, that will perhaps be the last drop which overflows the bowl—revolution will break out in Germany&…

“We consent to examine all conditions of peace, but that doesn’t mean that we shall accept them&… For some of our terms we shall fight to the end—but possibly for others will find it impossible to continue the war&… Above all, we want to finish the war&…”

It was exactly 10:35 when Kameniev asked all in favour of the proclamation to hold up their cards. One delegate dared to raise his hand against, but the sudden sharp outburst around him brought it swiftly down&… Unanimous.

Suddenly, by common impulse, we found ourselves on our feet, mumbling together into the smooth lifting unison of the Internationale. A grizzled old soldier was sobbing like a child. Alexandra Kollontai rapidly winked the tears back. The immense sound rolled through the hall, burst windows and doors and seared into the quiet sky. “The war is ended! The war is ended!” said a young workman near me, his face shining. And when it was over, as we stood there in a kind of awkward hush, some one in the back of the room shouted, “Comrades! Let us remember those who have died for liberty!” So we began to sing the Funeral March, that slow, melancholy and yet triumphant chant, so Russian and so moving. The Internationale is an alien air, after all. The Funeral March seemed the very soul of those dark masses whose delegates sat in this hall, building from their obscure visions a new Russia—and perhaps more.

You fell in the fatal fight For the liberty of the people, for the honour of the people&… You gave up your lives and everything dear to you, You suffered in horrible prisons, You went to exile in chains&…

Without a word you carried your chains because you could not ignore your suffering brothers, Because you believed that justice is stronger than the sword&… The time will come when your surrendered life will count That time is near; when tyranny falls the people will rise, great and free! Farewell, brothers, you chose a noble path,

You are followed by the new and fresh army ready to die and to suffer&… Farewell, brothers, you chose a noble path, At your grave we swear to fight, to work for freedom and the people’s happiness&…

For this did they lie there, the martyrs of March, in their cold Brotherhood Grave on Mars Field; for this thousands and tens of thousands had died in the prisons, in exile, in Siberian mines. It had not come as they expected it would come, nor as the intelligentzia desired it; but it had come—rough, strong, impatient of formulas, contemptuous of sentimentalism; real&…

Lenin was reading the Decree on Land:

(1.) All private ownership of land is abolished immediately without compensation.

(2.) All land_owners’ estates, and all lands belonging to the Crown, to monasteries, church lands with all their live stock and inventoried property, buildings and all appurtenances, are transferred to the disposition of the township Land Committees and the district Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies until the Constituent Assembly meets.

(3.) Any damage whatever done to the confiscated property which from now on belongs to the whole People, is regarded as a serious crime, punishable by the revolutionary tribunals. The district Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies shall take all necessary measures for the observance of the strictest order during the taking over of the land-owners’ estates, for the determination of the dimensions of the plots of land and which of them are subject to confiscation, for the drawing up of an inventory of the entire confiscated property, and for the strictest revolutionary protection of all the farming property on the land, with all buildings, implements, cattle, supplies of products, etc., passing into the hands of the People.

(4.) For guidance during the realisation of the great land reforms until their final resolution by the Constituent Assembly, shall serve the following peasant nakaz[3] (instructions), drawn up on the basis of 242 local peasant nakazi by the editorial board of the “Izviestia of the All-Russian Soviet of Peasants’ Deputies,” and published in No.88 of said “Izviestia” (Petrograd, No.88, August 19th, 1917).

The lands of peasants and of Cossacks serving in the Army shall not be confiscated.

“This is not,” explained Lenin, “the project of former Minister Tchernov, who spoke of ‘erecting a frame-work’ and tried to realise reforms from above. From below, on the spot, will be decided the questions of division of the land. The amount of land received by each peasant will vary according to the locality&…

“Under the Provisional Government, the pomieshtchiki flatly refused to obey the orders of the Land Committees—those Land Committees projected by Lvov, brought into existence by Shingariov, and administered by Kerensky!”

Before the debates could begin a man forced his way violently through the crowd in the aisle and climbed upon the platform. It was Pianikh, member of the Executive Committee of the Peasants’ Soviets, and he was mad clean through.

“The Executive Committee of the All-Russian Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies protests against the arrest of our comrades, the Ministers Salazkin and Mazlov!” he flung harshly in the faces of the crowd, “We demand their instant release! They are now in Peter-Paul fortress. We must have immediate action! There is not a moment to lose!”

Another followed him, a soldier with disordered beard and flaming eyes. “You sit here and talk about giving the land to the peasants, and you commit an act of tyrants and usurpers against the peasants’ chosen representatives! I tell you—” he raised his fist, “If one hair of their heads is harmed, you’ll have a revolt on your hands!” The crowd stirred confusedly.

Then up rose Trotzky, calm and venomous, conscious of power, greeted with a roar. “Yesterday the Military Revolutionary Committee decided to release the Socialist Revolutionary and Menshevik Ministers, Mazlov, Salazkin, Gvozdov and Maliantovitch—on principle. That they are still in Peter-Paul is only because we have had so much to do&… They will, however, be detained at their homes under arrest until we have investigated their complicity in the treacherous acts of Kerensky during the Kornilov affair!”

“Never,” shouted Pianikh, “in any revolution have such things been seen as go on here!”

“You are mistaken,” responded Trotzky. “Such things have been seen even in this revolution. Hundreds of our comrades were arrested in the July days&… When Comrade Kollontai was released from prison by the doctor’s orders, Avksentiev placed at her door two former agents of the Tsar’s secret police!” The peasants withdrew, muttering, followed by ironical hoots.

The representative of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries spoke on the Land Decree. While agreeing in principle, his faction could not vote on the question until after discussion. The Peasants’ Soviets should be consulted&…

The Mensheviki Internationalists, too, insisted on a party caucus.

Then the leader of the Maximalists, the Anarchist wing of the peasants: “We must do honour to a political party which puts such an act into effect the first day, without jawing about it!”

A typical peasant was in the tribune, long hair, boots and sheep-skin coat, bowing to all corners of the hall. “I wish you well, comrades and citizens,” he said. “There are some Cadets walking around outside. You arrested our Socialist peasants—why not arrest them?”

This was the signal for a debate of excited peasants. It was precisely like the debate of soldiers of the night before. Here were the real proletarians of the land&…

“Those members of our Executive Committee, Avksentiev and the rest, whom we thought were the peasants’ protectors—they are only Cadets too! Arrest them! Arrest them!”

Another, “Who are these Pianikhs, these Avksentievs? They are not peasants at all! They only wag their tails!”

How the crowd rose to them, recognising brothers!

The Left Socialist Revolutionaries proposed a half-hour intermission. As the delegates streamed out, Lenin stood up in his place.

“We must not lose time, comrades! News all-important to Russia must be on the press to-morrow morning. No delay!”

And above the hot discussion, argument, shuffling of feet could be heard the voice of an emissary of the Military Revolutionary Committee, crying, “Fifteen agitators wanted in room 17 at once! To go to the Front!”hellip;

It was almost two hours and a half later that the delegates came straggling back, the presidium mounted the platform, and the session recommenced by the reading of telegrams from regiment after regiment, announcing their adhesion to the Military Revolutionary Committee.

In leisurely manner the meeting gathered momentum. A delegate from the Russian troops on the Macedonian front spoke bitterly of their situation. “We suffer there more from the friendship of our ‘Allies’ than from the enemy,” he said. Representatives of the Tenth and Twelfth Armies, just arrived in hot haste, reported, “We support you with all our strength!” A peasant-soldier protested against the release of “the traitor Socialists, Mazlov and Salazkin”; as for the Executive Committee of the Peasants’ Soviets, it should be arrested en masse!Here was real revolutionary talk&… A deputy from the Russian Army in Persia declared he was instructed to demand all power to the Soviets&… A Ukrainean officer, speaking in his native tongue: “There is no nationalism in this crisis&… Da zdravstvuyet the proletarian dictatorship of all lands!” Such a deluge of high and hot thoughts that surely Russia would never again be dumb!

Kameniev remarked that the anti-Bolshevik forces were trying to stir up disorders everywhere, and read an appeal of the Congress to all the Soviets of Russia:

The All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, including some Peasants’ Deputies, calls upon the local Soviets to take immediate energetic measures to oppose all counter-revolutionary anti-Jewish action and all pogroms, whatever they may be. The honour of the Workers’, Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Revolution demands that no pogrom be tolerated.

The Red Guard of Petrograd, the revolutionary garrison and the sailors have maintained complete order in the capital.

Workers, soldiers and peasants, you should follow everywhere the example of the workers and soldiers of Petrograd.

Comrade soldiers and Cossacks, on us falls the duty of assuring real revolutionary order.

All revolutionary Russia and the entire world have their eyes on us&…

At two o’clock the Land Decree was put to vote, with only one against and the peasant delegates wild with joy&… So plunged the Bolsheviki ahead, irresistible, over-riding hesitation and opposition—the only people in Russia who had a definite programme of action while the others talked for eight long months.

Now arose a soldier, gaunt, ragged and eloquent, to protest against the clause of the nakaz tending to deprive military deserters from a share in village land allotments. Bawled at and hissed at first, his simple, moving speech finally made silence. “Forced against his will into the butchery of the trenches,” he cried, “which you yourselves, in the Peace decree, have voted senseless as well as horrible, he greeted the Revolution with hope of peace and freedom. Peace? The Government of Kerensky forced him again to go forward into Galicia to slaughter and be slaughtered; to his pleas for peace, Terestchenko simply laughed&… Freedom? Under Kerensky he found his Committees suppressed, his newspapers cut off, his party speakers put in prison&… At home in his village, the landlords were defying his Land Committees, jailing his comrades&… In Petrograd the bourgeoisie, in alliance with the Germans, were sabotaging the food and ammunition for the Army&… He was without boots, or clothes&… Who forced him to desert? The Government of Kerensky, which you have overthrown!” At the end there was applause.

But another soldier hotly denounced it: “The Government of Kerensky is not a screen behind which can be hidden dirty work like desertion! Deserters are scoundrels, who run away home and leave their comrades to die in the trenches alone! Every deserter is a traitor, and should be punished&…” Uproar, shouts of “Do volno! Teesche!” Kameniev hastily proposed to leave the matter to the Government for decision.[4]

At 2:30 A. M. fell a tense hush. Kameniev was reading the decree of the Constitution of Power:

Until the meeting of the Constituent Assembly, a provisional Workers’ and Peasants’ Government is formed, which shall be named the Council of People’s Commissars.

The administration of the different branches of state activity shall be intrusted to commissions, whose composition shall be regulated to ensure the carrying out of the programme of the Congress, in close union with the mass-organisations of working-men, working-women, sailors, soldiers, peasants and clerical employees. The governmental power is vested in a collegium made up of the chairmen of these commissions, that is to say, the Council of People’s Commissars.[5]

Control over the activities of the People’s Commissars, and the right to replace them, shall belong to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, and its Central Executive Committee.

Still silence; as he read the list of Commissars, bursts of applause after each name, Lenin’s and Trotzky’s especially. President of the Council: Vladimir Ulianov (Lenin) Interior: A. E. Rykov Agriculture: V. P. Miliutin Labour: A. G. Shliapnikov Military and Naval Affairs—a committee composed of V. A. Avseenko (Antonov), N. V. Krylenko, and F. M. Dybenko. Commerce and Industry: V. P. Nogin Popular Education: A. V. Lunatcharsky Finance: E. E. Skvortsov (Stepanov) Foreign Affairs: L. D. Bronstein (Trotzky) Justice: G. E. Oppokov (Lomov) Supplies: E. A. Teodorovitch Post and Telegraph: N. P. Avilov (Gliebov) Chairman for Nationalities: I. V. Djougashvili (Stalin) Railroads: To be filled later.

There were bayonets at the edges of the room, bayonets pricking up among the delegates; the Military Revolutionary Committee was arming everybody, Bolshevism was arming for the decisive battle with Kerensky, the sound of whose trumpets came up the south-west wind&… In the meanwhile nobody went home; on the contrary hundreds of newcomers filtered in, filling the great room solid with stern-faced soldiers and workmen who stood for hours and hours, indefatigably intent. The air was thick with cigarette smoke, and human breathing, and the smell of coarse clothes and sweat.

Avilov of the staff of Novaya Zhizn was speaking in the name of the Social Democrat Internationalists and the remnant of the Mensheviki Internationalists; Avilov, with his young, intelligent face, looking out of place in his smart frock-coat.

“We must ask ourselves where we are going&… The ease with which the Coalition Government was upset cannot be explained by the strength of the left wing of the democracy, but only by the incapacity of the Government to give the people peace and bread. And the left wing cannot maintain itself in power unless it can solve these questions&…

“Can it give bread to the people? Grain is scarce. The majority of the peasants will not be with you, for you cannot give them the machinery they need. Fuel and other primary necessities are almost impossible to procure&…

“As for peace, that will be even more difficult. The allies refused to talk with Skobeliev. They will never accept the proposition of a peace conference from you. You will not be recognised either in London and Paris, or in Berlin&…

“You cannot count on the effective help of the proletariat of the Allied countries, because in most countries it is very far from the revolutionary struggle; remember, the Allied democracy was unable even to convoke the Stockholm Conference. Concerning the German Social Democrats, I have just talked with Comrade Goldenberg, one of our delegates to Stockholm; he was told by the representatives of the Extreme Left that revolution in Germany was impossible during the war&…” Here interruptions began to come thick and fast, but Avilov kept on.

“The isolation of Russia will fatally result either in the defeat of the Russian Army by the Germans, and the patching up of a peace between the Austro-German coalition and the Franco-British coalition at the expense of Russia—or in a separate peace with Germany.

“I have just learned that the Allied ambassadors are preparing to leave, and that Committees for Salvation of Country and Revolution are forming in all the cities of Russia&…

“No one party can conquer these enormous difficulties. The majority of the people, supporting a government of Socialist coalition, can alone accomplish the Revolution&…

“He then read the resolution of the two factions:

Recognising that for the salvation of the conquests of the Revolution it is indispensable immediately to constitute a government based on the revolutionary democracy organised in the Soviets of Workers,’ Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, recognising moreover that the task of this government is the quickest possible attainment of peace, the transfer of the land into the hands of the agrarian committees, the organisation of control over industrial production, and the convocation of the Constituent Assembly on the date decided, the Congress appoints an executive committee to constitute such a government after an agreement with the groups of the democracy which are taking part in the Congress.

In spite of the revolutionary exaltation of the triumphant crowd, Avilov’s cool tolerant reasoning had shaken them. Toward the end, the cries and hisses died away, and when he finished there was even some clapping.

Karelin followed him—also young, fearless, whose sincerity no one doubted—for the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, the party of Maria Spiridonova, the party which almost alone followed the Bolsheviki, and which represented the revolutionary peasants.

“Our party has refused to enter the Council of People’s Commissars because we do not wish forever to separate ourselves from the part of the revolutionary army which left the Congress, a separation which would make it impossible for us to serve as intermediaries between the Bolsheviki and the other groups of the democracy&… And that is our principal duty at this moment. We cannot sustain any government except a government of Socialist coalition&…

“We protest, moreover, against the tyrannical conduct of the Bolsheviki. Our Commissars have been driven from their posts. Our only organ, Znamia Truda (Banner of Labour), was forbidden to appear yesterday&…

“The Central Duma is forming a powerful Committee for Salvation of Country and Revolution, to fight you. Already you are isolated, and your Government is without the support of a single other democratic group&…

And now Trotzky stood upon the raised tribune, confident and dominating, with that sarcastic expression about his mouth which was almost a sneer. He spoke, in a ringing voice, and the great crowd rose to him.

“These considerations on the dangers of isolation of our party are not new. On the eve of insurrection our fatal defeat was also predicted. Everybody was against us; only a faction of the Socialist Revolutionaries of the left was with us in the Military Revolutionary Committee. How is it that we were able to overturn the Government almost without bloodshed?&… That fact is the most striking proof that we were not isolated. In reality the Provisional Government was isolated; the democratic parties which march against us were isolated, are isolated, and forever cut off from the proletariat!

“They speak of the necessity for a coalition. There is only one coalition possible—the coalition of the workers, soldiers and poorest peasants; and it is our party’s honour to have realised that coalition&… What sort of coalition did Avilov mean? A coalition with those who supported the Government of Treason to the People? Coalition doesn’t always add to strength. For example, could we have organised the insurrection with Dan and Avksentiev in our ranks?” Roars of laughter.

“Avksentiev gave little bread. Will a coalition with the oborontsi furnish more? Between the peasants and Avksentiev, who ordered the arrest of the Land Committees, we choose the peasants! Our Revolution will remain the classic revolution of history&…

“They accuse us of repelling an agreement with the other democratic parties. But is it we who are to blame? Or must we, as Karelin put it, blame it on a ‘misunderstanding’? No, comrades. When a party in full tide of revolution, still wreathed in powder-smoke, comes to say, ‘Here is the Power—take it!’—and when those to whom it is offered go over to the enemy, that is not a misunderstanding&… that is a declaration of pitiless war. And it isn’t we who have declared war&…

“Avilov menaces us with failure of our peace efforts—if we remain ‘isolated.’ I repeat, I don’t see how a coalition with Skobeliev, or even Terestchenko, can help us to get peace! Avilov tries to frighten us by the threat of a peace at our expense. And I answer that in any case, if Europe continues to be ruled by the imperialist bourgeoisie, revolutionary Russia will inevitably be lost&…

“There are only two alternatives; either the Russian Revolution will create a revolutionary movement in Europe, or the European powers will destroy the Russian Revolution!”

They greeted him with an immense crusading acclaim, kindling to the daring of it, with the thought of championing mankind. And from that moment there was something conscious and decided about the insurrectionary masses, in all their actions, which never left them.

But on the other side, too, battle was taking form. Kameniev recognised a delegate from the Union of Railway Workers, a hardfaced, stocky man with an attitude of implacable hostility. He threw a bombshell.

“In the name of the strongest organisation in Russia I demand the right to speak, and I say to you: the Vikzhelcharges me to make known the decision of the Union concerning the constitution of Power. The Central Committee refuses absolutely to support the Bolsheviki if they persist in isolating themselves from the whole democracy of Russia!” Immense tumult all over the hall.

“In 1905, and in the Kornilov days, the Railway Workers were the best defenders of the Revolution. But you did not invite us to your Congress—” Cries, “It was the old Tsay-ee-kah which did not invite you!” The orator paid no attention. “We do not recognise the legality of this Congress; since the departure of the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries there is not a legal quorum&… The Union supports the old Tsay-ee-Kah, and declares that the Congress has no right to elect a new Committee&…

“The Power should be a Socialist and revolutionary Power, responsible before the authorised organs of the entire revolutionary democracy. Until the constitution of such a power, the Union of Railway Workers, which refuses to transport counter-revolutionary troops to Petrograd, at the same time forbids the execution of any order whatever without the consent of the Vikzhel. The Vikzhel also takes into its hands the entire administration of the railroads of Russia.”

At the end he could hardly be heard for the furious storm of abuse which beat upon him. But it was a heavy blow—that could be seen in the concern on the faces of the presidium. Kameniev, however, merely answered that there could be no doubt of the legality of the Congress, as even the quorum established by the old Tsay-ee-Kah was exceeded—in spite of the secession of the Mensheviki and Socialist Revolution arises&…

Then came the vote on the Constitution of Power, which carried the Council of People’s Commissars into office by an enormous majority&…

The election of the new Tsay-ee-kah, the new parliament of the Russian Republic, took barely fifteen minutes. Trotzky announced its composition: 100 members, of which 70 Bolsheviki&… As for the peasants, and the seceding factions, places were to be reserved for them. “We welcome into the Government all parties and groups which will adopt our programme,” ended Trotzky.

And thereupon the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets was dissolved, so that the members might hurry to their homes in the four corners of Russia and tell of the great happenings&…

It was almost seven when we woke the sleeping conductors and motor-men of the street-cars which the Street-Railway Workers’ Union always kept waiting at Smolny to take the Soviet delegates to their homes. In the crowded car there was less happy hilarity than the night before, I thought. Many looked anxious; perhaps they were saying to themselves, “Now we are masters, how can we do our will?”

At our apartment-house we were held up in the dark by an armed patrol of citizens and carefully examined. The Duma’s proclamation was doing its work&…

The landlady heard us come in, and stumbled out in a pink silk wrapper.

The House Committee has again asked that you take your turn on guard-duty with the rest of the men,” she said.

“What’s the reason for this guard-duty?”

“To protect the house and the women and children.”

“Who from?”

“Robbers and murderers.”

“But suppose there came a Commissar from the Military Revolutionary Committee to search for arms?”

“Oh, that’s what they’ll say they are&… And besides, what’s the difference?”

I solemnly affirmed that the Consul had forbidden all American citizens to carry arms—especially in the neighbourhood of the Russian intelligentzia&… Footnotes

[1] Appeals And Proclamations

From the Military Revolutionary Committee, November 8:

“To All Army Committees and All Soviets of Soldiers’ Deputies.

“The Petrograd garrison has overturned the Government of Kerensky, which had risen against the Revolution and the People…. In sending this news to the Front and the country, the Military Revolutionary Committee requests all soldiers to keep vigilant watch on the conduct of officers. Officers who do not frankly and openly declare for the Revolution should be immediately arrested as enemies.

“The Petrograd Soviet interprets the programme of the new Government as: immediate proposals of a general democratic peace, the immediate transfer of great landed estates to the peasants, and the honest convocation of the Constituent Assembly. The people’s revolutionary Army must not permit troops of doubtful morale to be sent to Petrograd. Act by means of arguments, by means of moral suasion—but if that fails, halt the movement of troops by implacable force.

“The present order must be immediately read to all military units of every branch of the service. Whoever keeps the knowledge of this order from the soldier-masses…. commits a serious crime against the Revolution, and will be punished with all the rigour of revolutionary law.

“Soldiers! For peace, bread, land, and popular government!”

“To All Front and Rear Army, Corps, Divisional, Regimental and Company Committees, and All Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.

“Soldiers and Revolutionary Officers!

“The Military Revolutionary Committee, by agreement with the majority of the workers, soldiers, and peasants, has decreed that General Kornilov and all the accomplices of his conspiracy shall be brought immediately to Petrograd, for incarceration in Peter-Paul Fortress and arraignment before a military revolutionary court-martial….

“All who resist the execution of this decree are declared by the Committee to be traitors to the Revolution, and their orders are herewith declared null and void.” The Military Revolutionary Committee Attached to the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.

“To all Provincial and District Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.

“By resolution of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, all arrested members of Land Committees are immediately set free. The Commissars who arrested them are to be arrested.

“From this moment all power belongs to the Soviets. The Commissars of the Provisional Government are removed. The presidents of the various local Soviets are invited to enter into direct relations with the revolutionary Government.”

Military Revolutionary Committee.

[2] Protest Of The Municipal Duma “The Central City Duma, elected on the most democratic principles, has undertaken the burden of managing Municipal affairs and food supplies at the time of the greatest disorganisation. At the present moment the Bolshevik party, three weeks before the elections to the Constituent Assembly, and in spite of the menace of the external enemy, having removed by armed force the only legal revolutionary authority, is making an attempt against the rights and independence of the Municipal Self-Government, demanding submission to its Commissars and its illegal authority.

“In this terrible and tragic moment the Petrograd City Duma, in the face of its constituents, and of all Russia, declares loudly that it will not submit to any encroachments on its rights and its independence, and will remain at the post of responsibility to which it has been called by the will of the population of the capital.

“The Central City Duma of Petrograd appeals to all Dumas and Zemstvos of the Russian Republic to rally to the defence of one of the greatest conquests of the Russian Revolution—the independence and inviolability of popular self-government.”

[3] Land Decree—Peasants’ “Nakaz” The Land question can only be permanently settled by the general Constituent Assembly.

The most equitable solution of the Land question should be as follows:

1. The right of private ownership of land is abolished forever; land cannot be sold, nor leased, nor mortgaged, nor alienated in any way. All dominical lands, lands attached to titles, lands belonging to the Emperor’s cabinet, to monasteries, churches, possession lands, entailed lands, private estates, communal lands, peasant free-holds, and others, are confiscated without compensation, and become national property, and are placed at the disposition of the workers who cultivate them.

Those who are damaged because of this social transformation of the rights of property are entitled to public aid during the time necessary for them to adapt themselves to the new conditions of existence.

2. All the riches beneath the earth—ores, oil, coal, salt, etc.—as well as forests and waters having a national importance, become the exclusive property of the State. All minor streams, lakes and forests are placed in the hands of the communities, on condition of being managed by the local organs of government.

3. All plots of land scientifically cultivated—gardens, plantations, nurseries, seed-plots, green-houses, and others—shall not be divided, but transformed into model farms, and pass into the hands of the State or of the community, according to their size and importance.

Buildings, communal lands and villages with their private gardens and their orchards remain in the hands of their present owners; the dimensions of these plots and the rate of taxes for their use shall be fixed by law.

4. All studs, governmental and private cattle-breeding and bird-breeding establishments, and others, are confiscated and become national property, and are transferred either to the State or to the community, according to their size and importance.

All questions of compensation for the above are within the competence of the Constituent Assembly.

5. All inventoried agricultural property of the confiscated lands, machinery and live-stock, are transferred without compensation to the State or the community, according to their quantity and importance.

The confiscation of such machinery or live-stock shall not apply to the small properties of peasants.

6. The right to use the land is granted to all citizens, without distinction of sex, who wish to work the land themselves, with the help of their families, or in partnership, and only so long as they are able to work. No hired labour is permitted.

In the event of the incapacity for work of a member of the commune for a period of two years, the commune shall be bound to render him assistance during this time by working his land in common.

Farmers who through old age or sickness have permanently lost the capacity to work the land themselves, shall surrender their land and receive instead a Government pension.

7. The use of the land should be equalised—that is to say, the land shall be divided among the workers according to local conditions, the unit of labour and the needs of the individual.

The way in which land is to be used may be individually determined upon: as homesteads, as farms, by communes, by partnerships, as will be decided by the villages and settlements.

8. All land upon its confiscation is pooled in the general People’s Land Fund. Its distribution among the workers is carried out by the local and central organs of administration, beginning with the village democratic organisations and ending with the central provincial institutions—with the exception of urban and rural cooperative societies.

The Land Fund is subject to periodical redistribution according to the increase of population and the development of productivity and rural economy.

In case of modification of the boundaries of allotments, the original centre of the allotment remains intact.

The lands of persons retiring from the community return to the Land Fund; providing that near relatives of the persons retiring, or friends designated by them, shall have preference in the redistribution of these lands.

When lands are returned to the Land Fund, the money expended for manuring or improving the land, which has not been exhausted, shall be reimbursed.

If in some localities the Land Fund is insufficient to satisfy the local population, the surplus population should emigrate.

The organisation of the emigration, also the costs thereof, and the providing of emigrants with the necessary machinery and live-stock, shall be the business of the State.

The emigration shall be carried out in the following order: first, the peasants without land who express their wish to emigrate; then the undesirable members of the community, deserters, etc., and finally, by drawing lots on agreement.

All which is contained in this nakaz, being the expression of the indisputable will of the great majority of conscious peasants of Russia, is declared to be a temporary law, and until the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, becomes effective immediately so far as is possible, and in some parts of it gradually, as will be determined by the District Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies.

[4] The Land And Deserters The Government was not forced to make any decision concerning the rights of deserters to the land. The end of the war and the demobilisation of the army automatically removed the deserter problem….

[5] The Council Of People’S Commissars The Council of People’s Commissars was at first composed entirely of Bolsheviki. This was not entirely the fault of the Bolsheviki, however. On November 8th they offered portfolios to members of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, who declined.

Chapter VI The Committee for Salvation

FRIDAY, November 9th….

Novotcherkask, November 8th.

In view of the revolt of the Bolsheviki, and their attempt to depose the Provisional Government and to seize the power in Petrograd— the Cossack Government declares that it considers these acts criminal and absolutely inadmissible. In consequence, the Cossacks will lend all their support to the Provisional Government, which is a government of coalition. Because of these circumstances, and until the return of the Provisional Government to power, and the restoration of order in Russia, I take upon myself, beginning November 7th, all the power in that which concerns the region of the Don.


President of the Government of the Cossack Troops.

Prikaz of the Minister-President Kerensky, dated at Gatchina:

I, Minister-President of the Provisional Government, and Supreme Commander of all the armed forces of the Russian Republic, declare that I am at the head of regiments from the Front who have remained faithful to the fatherland.

I order all the troops of the Military District of Petrograd, who through mistake or folly have answered the appeal of the traitors to the country and the Revolution, to return to their duty without delay.

This order shall be read in all regiments, battalions and squadrons.

Signed: Minister-President of the Provisional

Government and Supreme Commander


Telegram from Kerensky to the General in Command of the Northern Front:

The town of Gatchina has been taken by the loyal regiments without bloodshed. Detachments of Cronstadt sailors, and of the Semionovsky and Ismailovsky regiments, gave up their arms without resistance and joined the Government troops.

I order all the designated units to advance as quickly as possible. The Military Revolutionary Committee has ordered its troops to retreat….

Gatchina, about thirty kilometers south-west, had fallen during the night. Detachments of the two regiments mentioned—not the sailors—while wandering captainless in the neighbourhood, had indeed been surrounded by Cossacks and given up their arms; but it was not true that they had joined the Government troops. At this very moment crowds of them, bewildered and ashamed, were up at Smolny trying to explain. They did not think the Cossacks were so near…. They had tried to argue with the Cossacks….

Apparently the greatest confusion prevailed along the revolutionary front. The garrisons of all the little towns southward had split hopelessly, bitterly into two factions—or three: the high command being on the side of Kerensky, in default of anything stronger, the majority of the rank and file with the Soviets, and the rest unhappily wavering.

Hastily the Military Revolutionary Committee appointed to command the defence of Petrograd an ambitious regular Army Captain, Muraviov, the same Muraviov who had organised the Death Battalions during the summer, and had once been heard to advise the Government that “it was too lenient with the Bolsheviki; they must be wiped out.” A man of military mind, who admired power and audacity, perhaps sincerely….

Beside my door when I came down in the morning were posted two new orders of the Military Revolutionary Committee, directing that all shops and stores should open as usual, and that all empty rooms and apartments should be put at the disposal of the Committee….

For thirty-six hours now the Bolsheviki had been cut off from provincial Russia and the outside world. The railway men and telegraphers refused to transmit their despatches, the postmen would not handle their mail. Only the Government wireless at Tsarskoye Selo launched half-hourly bulletins and manifestoes to the four corners of heaven; the Commissars of Smolny raced the Commissars of the City Duma on speeding trains half across the earth; and two aeroplanes, laden with propaganda, fled high up toward the Front….

But the eddies of insurrection were spreading through Russia with a swiftness surpassing any human agency. Helsingfors Soviet passed resolutions of support; Kiev Bolsheviki captured the arsenal and the telegraph station, only to be driven out by delegates to the Congress of Cossacks, which happened to be meeting there; in Kazan, a Military Revolutionary Committee arrested the local garrison staff and the Commissar of the Provisional Government; from far Krasnoyarsk, in Siberia, came news that the Soviets were in control of the Municipal institutions; at Moscow, where the situation was aggravated by a great strike of leather-workers on one side, and a threat of general lock-out on the other, the Soviets had voted overwhelmingly to support the action of the Bolsheviki in Petrograd…. Already a Military Revolutionary Committee was functioning.

Everywhere the same thing happened. The common soldiers and the industrial workers supported the Soviets by a vast majority; the officers, yunkers and middle class generally were on the side of the Government—as were the bourgeois Cadets and the “moderate” Socialist parties. In all these towns sprang up Committees for Salvation of Country and Revolution, arming for civil war….

Vast Russia was in a state of solution. As long ago as 1905 the process had begun; the March Revolution had merely hastened it, and giving birth to a sort of forecast of the new order, had ended by merely perpetuating the hollow structure of the old regime. Now, however, the Bolsheviki, in one night, had dissipated it, as one blows away smoke. Old Russia was no more; human society flowed molten in primal heat, and from the tossing sea of flame was emerging the class struggle, stark and pitiless—and the fragile, slowly-cooling crust of new planets….

In Petrograd sixteen Ministries were on strike, led by the Ministries of Labour and of Supplies—the only two created by the all-Socialist Government of August.

If ever men stood alone the “handful of Bolsheviki” apparently stood alone that grey chill morning, with all storms towering over them.[1] Back against the wall, the Military Revolutionary Committee struck—for its life. “De l’audace, encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace…. At five in the morning the Red Guards entered the printing office of the City Government, confiscated thousands of copies of the Appeal-Protest of the Duma, and suppressed the official Municipal organ—the Viestnik Gorodskovo Samoupravleniya (Bulletin of the Municipal Self-Government). All the bourgeois newspapers were torn from the presses, even the Golos Soldata, journal of the old Tsay-ee-kah—which, however, changing its name to Soldatski Golos, appeared in an edition of a hundred thousand copies, bellowing rage and defiance:

The men who began their stroke of treachery in the night, who have suppressed the newspapers, will not keep the country in ignorance long. The country will know the truth! It will appreciate you, Messrs. the Bolsheviki! We shall see!—

As we came down the Nevsky a little after midday the whole street before the Duma building was crowded with people. Here and there stood Red Guards and sailors, with bayonetted rifles, each one surrounded by about a hundred men and women—clerks, students, shopkeepers, tchinovniki—shaking their fists and bawling insults and menaces. On the steps stood boy-scouts and officers, distributing copies of the Soldatski Golos. A workman with a red band around his arm and a revolver in his hand stood trembling with rage and nervousness in the middle of a hostile throng at the foot of the stairs, demanding the surrender of the papers…. Nothing like this, I imagine, ever occurred in history. On one side a handful of workmen and common soldiers, with arms in their hands, representing a victorious insurrection—and perfectly miserable; on the other a frantic mob made up of the kind of people that crowd the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue at noon-time, sneering, abusing, shouting, “Traitors! Provocators! Opritchniki! The doors were guarded by students and officers with white arm-bands lettered in red, “Militia of the Committee of Public Safety,” and half a dozen boy-scouts came and went. Upstairs the place was all commotion. Captain Gomberg was coming down the stairs. “They’re going to dissolve the Duma,” he said. “The Bolshevik Commissar is with the Mayor now.” As we reached the top Riazanov came hurrying out. He had been to demand that the Duma recognise the Council of peoples’ Commissars, and the Mayor had given him a flat refusal.

In the offices a great babbling crowd, hurrying, shouting, gesticulating—Government officials, intellectuals, journalists, foreign correspondents, French and British officers…. “The City Engineer pointed to them triumphantly. “The Embassies recognise the Duma as the only power now,” he explained. “For these Bolshevik murderers and robbers it is only a question of hours. All Russia is rallying to us….

In the Alexander Hall a monster meeting of the Committee for Salvation. Fillipovsky in the chair and Skobeliev again in the tribune, reporting, to immense applause, new adhesions to the Committee; Executive Committee of Peasants’ Soviets, old Tsay-ee-kah, Central Army Committee, Tsentroflot, Menshevik, Socialist Revolutionary and Front group delegates from the Congress of Soviets, Central Committees of the Menshevik, Socialist Revolutionary, Populist Socialist parties. “Yedinstvo” group, Peasants’ Union, Cooperatives, Zemstvos, Municipalities, Post and Telegraph Unions, Vikzhel, Council of the Russian Republic, Union of Unions, Merchants’ and Manufacturers’ Association….

“…. The power of the Soviets is not democratic power, but a dictatorship—and not the dictatorship of the proletariat, but against the proletariat. All those who have felt or know how to feel revolutionary enthusiasm must join now for the defence of the Revolution….

“The problem of the day is not only to render harmless irresponsible demagogues, but to fight against the counter-revolution…. If rumours are true that certain generals in the provinces are attempting to profit by events in order to march on Petrograd with other designs, it is only one more proof that we must establish a solid base of democratic government. Otherwise, troubles with the Right will follow troubles from the Left….

“The garrison of Petrograd cannot remain indifferent when citizens buying the Golos Soldata and newsboys selling the Rabotchaya Gazeta are arrested in the streets….

“The hour of resolutions has passed…. Let those who have no longer faith in the Revolution retire…. To establish a united power, we must again restore the prestige of the Revolution….

“Let us swear that either the Revolution shall be saved—or we shall perish!”

The hall rose, cheering, with kindling eyes. There was not a single proletarian anywhere in sight….

Then Weinstein:

“We must remain calm, and not act until public opinion is firmly grouped in support of the Committee for Salvation—then we can pass from the defensive to action!”

The Vikzhel representative announced that his organisation was taking the initiative in forming the new Government, and its delegates were now discussing the matter with Smolny…. Followed a hot discussion: were the Bolsheviki to be admitted to the new Government? Martov pleaded for their admission; after all, he said, they represented an important political party. Opinions were very much divided upon this, the right wing Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries, as well as the Populist Socialists, the Cooperatives and the bourgeois elements being bitterly against….

“They have betrayed Russia,” one speaker said. “They have started civil war and opened the front to the Germans. The Bolsheviki must be mercilessly crushed….”

Skobeliev was in favor of excluding both the Bolsheviki and the Cadets.

We got into conversation with a young Socialist Revolutionary, who had walked out of the Democratic Conference to gether with the Bolsheviki, that night when Tseretelli and the “compromisers” forced Coalition upon the democracy of Russia.

“You here?” I asked him.

His eyes flashed fire. “Yes!” he cried. “I left the Congress with my party Wednesday night. I have not risked my life for twenty years and more to submit now to the tyranny of the Dark People. Their methods are intolerable. But they have not counted on the peasants…. When the peasants begin to act, then it is a question of minutes before they are done for.”

“But the peasants—will they act? Doesn’t the Land decree settle the peasants? What more do they want?”

“Ah, the Land decree!” he said furiously. “Yes, do you know what that Land decree is? It is our decree—it is the Socialist Revolutionary programme, intact! My party framed that policy, after the most careful compilation of the wishes of the peasants themselves. It is an outrage….”

“But if it is your own policy, why do you object? If it is the peasants’ wishes, why will they oppose it?”

“You don’t understand! Don’t you see that the peasants will immediately realise that it is all a trick—that these usurpers have stolen the Socialist Revolutionary programme?”

I asked if it were true that Kaledin was marching north.

He nodded, and rubbed his hands with a sort of bitter satisfaction. “Yes. Now you see what these Bolsheviki have done. They have raised the counter-revolution against us. The Revolution is lost. The Revolution is lost.”

“But won’t you defend the Revolution?”

“Of course we will defend it—to the last drop of our blood. But we won’t cooperate with the Bolsheviki in any way….”

“But if Kaledin comes to Petrograd, and the Bolsheviki defend the city. Won’t you join with them?”

“Of course not. We will defend the city also, but we won’t support the Bolsheviki. Kaledin is the enemy of the Revolution, but the Bolsheviki are equally enemies of the Revolution.”

“Which do you prefer—Kaledin or the Bolsheviki?”

“It is not a question to be discussed!” he burst out impatiently. “I tell you, the Revolution is lost. And it is the Bolsheviki who are to blame. But listen—why should we talk of such things? Kerensky is comming…. Day after tomorrow we shall pass to the offensive…. Already Smolny has sent delegates inviting us to form a new Government. But we have them now—they are absolutely impotent…. We shall not cooperate….”

Outside there was a shot. We ran to the windows. A Red Guard, finally exasperated by the taunts of the crowd, had shot into it, wounding a young girl in the arm. We could see her being lifted into a cab, surrounded by an excited throng, the clamour of whose voices floated up to us. As we looked, suddenly an armoured automobile appeared around the corner of the Mikhailovsky, its guns sluing this way and that. Immediately the crowd began to run, as Petrograd crowds do, falling down and lying still in the street, piled in the gutters, heaped up behind telephone-poles. The car lumbered up to the steps of the Duma and a man stuck his head out of the turret, demanding the surrender of the Soldatski Golos. The boy-scouts jeered and scuttled into the building. After a moment the automobile wheeled undecidedly around and went off up the Nevsky, while some hundreds of men and women picked themselves up and began to dust their clothes….

Inside was a prodigious running-about of people with armfuls of Soldatski Golos, looking for places to hide them….

A journalist came running into the room, waving a paper.

“Here’s a proclamation from Krasnov!” he cried. Everybody crowded around. “Get it printed—get it printed quick, and around to the barracks!”

By the order of the Supreme Commander I am appointed commandant of the troops concentrated under Petrograd.

Citizens, soldiers, valorous Cossacks of the Don, of the Kuban, of the Transbaikal, of the Amur, of the Yenissei, to all you who have remained faithful to your oath I appeal; to you who have sworn to guard inviolable your oath of Cossack—I call upon you to save Petrograd from anarchy, from famine, from tyranny, and to save Russia from the indelible shame to which a handful of ignorant men, bought by the gold of Wilhelm, are trying to submit her.

The Provisional Government, to which you swore fidelity in the great days of March, is not overthrown, but by violence expelled from the edifice in which it held its meetings. However the Government, with the help of the Front armies, faithful to their duty, with the help of the Council of Cossacks, which has united under its command all the Cossacks and which, strong with the morale which reigns in its ranks, and acting in accordance with the will of the Russian people, has sworn to serve the country as its ancestors served it in the Troublous Times of 1612, when the Cossacks of the Don delivered Moscow, menaced by the Swedes, the Poles, and the Lithuanians. Your Government still exists….

The active army considers these criminals with horror and contempt. Their acts of vandalism and pillage, their crimes, the German mentality with which they regard Russia—stricken down but not yet surrendered—have alienated from them the entire people.

Citizens, soldiers, valorous Cossacks of the garrison of Petrograd; send me your delegates so that I may know who are traitors to their country and who are not, that there may be avoided an effusion of innocent blood.

Almost the same moment word ran from group to group that the building was surrounded by Red Guards. An officer strode in, a red band around his arm, demanding the Mayor. A few minutes later he left and old Schreider came out of his office, red and pale by turns.

“A special meeting of the Duma!” he cried. “Immediately!”

In the big hall proceedings were halted. “All members of the Duma for a special meeting!”

“What’s the matter?”

“I don’t know—going to arrest us—going to dissolve the Duma—arresting members at the door—” so ran the excited comments.

In the Nicolai Hall there was barely room to stand. The Mayor announced that troops were stationed at all the doors, prohibiting all exit and entrance, and that a Commissar had threatened arrest and the dispersal of the Municipal Duma. A flood of impassioned speeches from members, and even from the galleries, responded. The freely-elected City Government could not be dissolved by any power; the Mayor’s person and that of all the members were inviolable; the tyrants, the provocators, the German agents should never be recognised; as for these threats to dissolve us, let them try—only over our dead bodies shall they seize this chamber, where like the Roman senators of old we await with dignity the coming of the Goths….

Resolution, to inform the Dumas and Zemstvos of all Russia by telegraph. Resolution, that it was impossible for the Mayor or the Chairman of the Duma to enter into any relations whatever with representatives of the Military Revolutionary Committee or with the so-called Council of People’s Commissars. Resolution, to address another appeal to the population of Petrograd to stand up for the defence of their elected town government. Resolution, to remain in permanent session….

In the meanwhile one member arrived with the information that he had telephoned to Smolny, and that the Military Revolutionary Committee said that no orders had been given to surround the Duma, that the troops would be withdrawn….

As we went downstairs Riazanov burst in through the front door, very agitated.

“Are you going to dissolve the Duma?” I asked.

“My God, no!” he answered. “It is all a mistake. I told the Mayor this morning that the Duma would be left alone….

Out on the Nevsky, in the deepening dusk, a long double file of cyclists came riding, guns slung on their shoulders. They halted, and the crowd pressed in and deluged them with questions.

“Who are you? Where do you come from?” asked a fat old man with a cigar in his mouth.

“Twelfth Army. From the front. We came to support the Soviets against the damn’ bourgeoisie!”

“Ah!” were furious cries. “Bolshevik gendarmes! Bolshevik Cossacks!”

A little officer in a leather coat came running down the steps. “The garrison is turning!” he muttered in my ear. “It’s the beginning of the end of the Bolsheviki. Do you want to see the turn of the tide? Come on!” He started at a half-trot up the Mikhailovsky, and we followed.

“What regiment is it?”

“The brunnoviki….” Here was indeed serious trouble. The brunnoviki were the Armoured Car troops, the key to the situation; whoever controlled the brunnoviki controlled the city. “The Commissars of the Committee for Salvation and the Duma have been talking to them. There’s a meeting on to decide….

“Decide what? Which side they’ll fight on?”

“Oh, no. That’s not the way to do it. They’ll never fight against the Bolsheviki. They will vote to remain neutral—and then the yunkers and Cossacks—”

The door of the great Mikhailovsky Riding-School yawned blackly. Two sentinels tried to stop us, but we brushed by hurriedly, deaf to their indignant expostulations. Inside only a single arc-light burned dimly, high up near the roof of the enormous hall, whose lofty pilasters and rows of windows vanished in the gloom. Around dimly squatted the monstrous shapes of the armoured cars. One stood alone in the centre of the place, under the light, and round it were gathered some two thousand dun-colored soldiers, almost lost in the immensity of that imperial building. A dozen men, officers, chairmen of the Soldiers’ Committees and speakers, were perched on top of the car, and from the central turret a soldier was speaking. This was Khanjunov, who had been president of last summer’s all-Russian Congress of Brunnoviki. A lithe, handsome figure in his leather coat with lieutenant’s shoulder-straps, he stood pleading eloquently for neutrality.

“It is an awful thing,” he said, “for Russians to kill their Russian brothers. There must not be civil war between soldiers who stood shoulder to shoulder against the Tsar, and conquered the foreign enemy in battles which will go down in history! What have we, soldiers, got to do with these squabbles of political parties? I will not say to you that the Provisional Government was a democratic Government; we want no coalition with the bourgeoisie—no. But we must have a Government of the united democracy, or Russia is lost! With such a Government there will be no need for civil war, and the killing of brother by brother!”

This sounded reasonable—the great hall echoed to the crash of hands and voices.

A soldier climbed up, his face white and strained, “Comrades!” he cried, “I came from the Rumanian front, to urgently tell you all: there must be peace! Peace at once! Whoever can give us peace, whether it be the Bolsheviki or this new Government, we will follow. Peace! We at the front cannot fight any longer. We cannot fight either Germans or Russians—” With that he leaped down, and a sort of confused agonised sound rose up from all that surging mass, which burst into something like anger when the next speaker, a Menshevik oboronetz, tried to say that the war must go on until the Allies were victorious.

“You talk like Kerensky!” shouted a rough voice.

A Duma delegate, pleading for neutrality. Him they listened to, muttering uneasily, feeling him not one of them. Never have I seen men trying so hard to understand, to decide. They never moved, stood staring with a sort of terrible intentness at the speaker, their brows wrinkled with the effort of thought, sweat standing out on their foreheads; great giants of men with the innocent clear eyes of children and the faces of epic warriors….

Now a Bolshevik was speaking, one of their own men, violently, full of hate. They liked him no more than the other. It was not their mood. For the moment they were lifted out of the ordinary run of common thoughts, thinking in terms of Russia, of Socialism, the world, as if it depended on them whether the Revolution were to live or die….

Speaker succeeded speaker, debating amid tense silence, roars of approval, or anger: should we come out or not? Khanjunov returned, persuasive and sympathetic. But wasn’t he an officer, and an oboronotz, however much he talked of peace? Then a workman from Vasili Ostrov, but him they greeted with, “And are you going to give us peace, working-man?” Near us some men, many of them officers, formed a sort of claque to cheer the advocates of Neutrality. They kept shouting, “Khanjunov! Khanjunov!” and whistled insultingly when the Bolsheviki tried to speak.

Suddenly the committeemen and officers on top of the automobile began to discuss something with great heat and much gesticulation. The audience shouted to know what was the matter, and all the great mass tossed and stirred. A soldier, held back by one of the officers, wrenched himself loose and held up his hand.

“Comrades!” he cried, “Comrade Krylenko is here and wants to speak to us.” An outburst of cheers, whistlings, yells of “Prosim! Prosim! Dolby! Go ahead! Go ahead! Down with him!” in the midst of which the People’s Commissar for Military Affairs clambered up the side of the car, helped by hands before and behind, pushed and pulled from below and above. Rising he stood for a moment, and then walked out on the radiator, put his hands on his hips and looked around smiling, a squat, short-legged figure, bare-headed, with-out insignia on his uniform.

The claque near me kept up a fearful shouting, “Khanjunov! We want Khanjunov! Down with him! Shut up! Down with the traitor!” The whole place seethed and roared. Then it began to move, like an avalanche bearing down upon us, great black-browed men forcing their way through.

“Who is breaking up our meeting?” they shouted. “Who is whistling here?” The claque, rudely burst asunder, went flying—nor did it gather again….

“Comrade soliders!” began Krylenko, in a voice husky with fatigue. “I cannot speak well to you; I am sorry; but I have not had any sleep for four nights….

“I don’t need to tell you that I am a soldier. I don’t need to tell you that I want peace. What I must say is that the Bolshevik party, successful in the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Revolution, by the help of you and of all the rest of the brave comrades who have of you and of all the rest of the brave comrades who have hurled down forever the power of the blood-thirsty bourgeoisie, promised to offer peace to all the peoples, and that has already been done—today!” Tumultuous applause.

“You are asked to remain neutral—to remain neutral while the yunkers and the Death Battalions, who are never neutral, shoot us down in the streets and bring back to Petrograd Kerensky—or perhaps some other of the gang. Kaledin is marching from the Don. Kerensky is coming from the front. Kornilov is raising the Tekhintsi to repeat his attempt of August. All these Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries who call upon you now to prevent civil war—how have they retained the power except by civil war, that civil war which has endured ever since last July, and in which they constantly stood on the side of the bourgeoisie, as they do now?

“How can I persuade you, if you have made up your minds? The question is very plain. On one side are Kerensky, Kaledin, Kornilov, the Mensheviki, Socialist Revolutionaries, Cadets, Dumas, officers…. They tell us that their objects are good. On the other side are the workers, the soldiers and sailors, the poorest peasants. The Government is in your hands. You are the masters. Great Russia belongs to you. Will you give it back?”

While he spoke, he kept himself up by sheer evident effort of will, and as he went on the deep sincere feeling back of his words broke through the tired voice. At the end he totered, almost falling; a hundred hands reached up to help him down, and the great dim spaces of the hall gave back the surf of sound that beat upon him.

Khanjunov tried to speak again, but “Vote! Vote! Vote!” they cried. At length, giving in, he read the resolution: that the brunnoviki withdraw their representative from the Military Revolutionary Committee, and declare their neutrality in the present civil war. All those in favour should go to the right; those opposed, to the left. There was a moment of hesitation, a still expectancy, and then the crowd began to surge faster and faster, stumbling over one another, to the left, hundreds of big soldiers in a solid mass rushing across the dirt floor in the faint light…. Near us about fifty men were left stranded, stubbornly in favour, and even as the high roof shook under the shock of victorious roaring, they turned and rapidly walked out of the building—and, some of them, out of the Revolution….

Imagine this struggle being repeated in every barracks of the city, the district, the whole front, all Russia. Imagine the sleepless Krylenkos, watching the regiments, hurrying from place to place, arguing, threatening, entreating. And then imaging the same in all the locals of every labour union, in the factories, the villages, on the battle-ships of the far-flung Russian fleets; think of the hundreds of thousands of Russian men staring up at speakers all over the vast country, workmen, peasants, soldiers, sailors, trying so hard to understand and to choose, thinking so intensely—and deciding so unanimously at the end. So was the Russian Revolution….

Up at Smolny the new Council of People’s Commissars was not idle. Already the first decree was on the presses, to be circulated in thousands through the city streets that night, and shipped in bales by every train southward and east:

In the name of the Government of the Russian Republic, chosen by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies with participation of peasant deputies, the Council of People’s Commissars decrees:

1. The elections for the Constituent Assembly shall take place at the date determined upon—November 12.

2. All electoral commissions, organs of local self-government, Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, and soldiers’ organisations on the front should make every effort to assure free and regular elections at the date determined upon.

In the name of the Government of the Russian Republic, The President of the Council of People’s Commissars,

Vladimir Ulianov—Lenin.

In the Municipal building the Duma was in full blast. A member of the Council of the Republic was talking as we came in. The Council, he said, did not consider itself dissolved at all, but merely unable to continue its labours until it secured a new meeting-place. In the meanwhile, its Committee of Elders had determined to enter en masse the Committee for Salvation…. This, I may remark parenthetically, is the last time history mentions the Council of the Russian Republic….

Then followed the customary string of delegates from the Ministries, the Vikzhel, the Union of Posts and Telegraphs, for the hundredth time reiterating their determination not to work for the Bolshevik usurpers. A yunker who had been in the Winter Palace told a highly-coloured tale of the heroism of himself and his comrades, and disgraceful conduct of the Red Guards—all of which was devoutly believed. Somebody read aloud an account in the Socialist Revolutionary paper Narod, which stated that five hundred million rubles’ worth of damage had been done in the Winter Palace, and describing in great detail the loot and breakage.

From time to time couriers came from the telephone with news. The four Socialist Ministers had been released from prison. Krylenko had gone to Peter-Paul to tell Admiral Verderevsky that the Ministry of Marine was deserted, and to beg him, for the sake of Russia, to take charge under the authority of the Council of People’s Commissars; and the old seaman had consented…. Kerensky was advancing north from Gatchina, the Bolshevik garrisons falling back before him. Smolny had issued another decree, enlarging the powers of the City Dumas to deal with food supplies.

This last piece of insolence caused an outburst of fury. He, Lenin, the usurper, the tyrant, whose Commissars had seized the Municipal garage, entered the Municipal ware houses, were interfering with the Supply Committees and the distribution of food—he presumed to define the limits of power of the free, independent, autonomous City Government! One member, shaking his fist, moved to cut off the food of the city if the Bolsheviki dared to interfere with the Supply Committees…. Another, representative of the Special Supply Committee, reported that the food situation was very grave, and asked that emissaries be sent out to hasten food trains.

Diedonenko announced dramatically that the garrison was wavering. The Semionovsky regiment had already decided to submit to the orders of the Socialist Revolutionary party; the crews of the torpedo-boats on the Neva were shaky. Seven members were at once appointed to continue the propaganda….

Then the old Mayor stepped into the tribune: “Comrades and citizens! I have just learned that the prisoners in Peter Paul are in danger. Fourteen yunkers of the Pavlovsk school have been stripped and tortured by the Bolshevik guards. One has gone mad. They are threatening to lynch the Ministers!” There was a whirlwind of indignation and horror, which only grew more violent when a stocky little woman dressed in grey demanded the floor, and lifted up her hard, metallic voice. This was Vera Slutskaya, veteran revolutionist and Bolshevik member of the Duma.

“That is a lie and a provocation!” she said, unmoved at the torrent of abuse. “The Workers’ and Peasants’ Government, which has abolished the death penalty, cannot permit such deeds. We demand that this story be investigated, at once; if there is any truth in it, the Government will take energetic measures!”

A commission composed of members of all parties was immediately appointed, and with the Mayor, sent to Peter Paul to investigate. As we followed them out, the Duma was appointing another commission to meet Kerensky—to try and avoid bloodshed when he entered the capital….

It was midnight when we bluffed our past the guards at the gate of the fortress, and went forward under the faint glimmer of rare electric lights along the side of the church where lie the tombs of the Tsars, beneath the slender golden spire and the chimes, which, for months, continued to play Bozhe Tsaria Khrani every day at noon…. The place was deserted; To the representative of the American Socialist press, JOHN REED, to visit all places of confinement in the cities of Petrograd and Cronstadt, for the purpose of generally investigating the condition of the prisoners, and for thorough social information for the purpose of stopping the flood of newspaper lies against demorcracy. Chief Commissar Secretary in most of the windows there were not even lights. Occasionally we bumped into a burly figure stumbling along in the dark, who answered questions with the usual, “Ya nieznayu.”

On the left loomed the low dark outline of Trubetskoi Bastion, that living grave in which so many martyrs of liberty had lost their lives or their reason in the days of the Tsar, where the Provisional Government had in turn shut up the Ministers of the Tsar, and now the Bolsheviki had shut up the Ministers of the Provisional Government.

A friendly sailor led us to the office of the commandant, in a little house near the Mint. Half a dozen Red Guards, sailors and soldiers were sitting around a hot room full of smoke, in which a samovar steamed cheerfully. They welcomed us with great cordiality, offering tea. The commandant was not in; he was escorting a commission of “sabotazhniki” (sabotageurs) from the City Duma, who insisted that the yunkers were all being murdered. This seemed to amuse them very much. At one side of the room sat a bald-headed, dissipated-looking little man in a frock-coat and a rich fur coat, biting his moustache and staring around him like a cornered rat. He had just been arrested. Somebody said, glancing carelessly at him, that he was a Minister or something…. The little man didn’t seem to hear it; he was evidently terrified, although the occupants of the room showed no animosity whatever toward him.

I went across and spoke to him in French. “Count Tolstoy,” he answered, bowing stiffly. “I do not understand why I was arrested. I was crossing the Troitsky Bridge on my way home when two of these—of these—persons held me up. I was a Commissar of the Provisional Government attached to the General Staff, but in no sense a member of the Government—”

“Let him go,”said a sailor. “He’s harmless….”

“No,” responded the soldier who had brought the prisoner. “We must ask the commandant.”

“Oh, the commandant!” sneered the sailor. “What did you make a revolution for? To go on obeying officers?”

A praporshtchik of the Pavlovsky regiment was telling us how the insurrection started. “The polk (regiment) was on duty at the General Staff the night of the 6th. Some of my comrades and I were standing guard; Ivan Pavlovitch and another man—I don’t remember his name—well, they hid behind the window-curtains in the room where the Staff was having a meeting, and they heard a great many things. For example, they heard orders to bring the Gatchina yunkers to Petrograd by night, and an order for the Cossacks to be ready to march in the morning…. The principal points in the city were to be occupied before dawn. Then there was the business of opening the bridges. But when they began to talk about surrounding Smolny, then Ivan Pavlovitch couldn’t stand it any longer. That minute there was a good deal of coming and going, so he slipped out and came down to the guard-room,leaving the other comrade to pick up what he could.

“I was already suspicious that something was going on. Automobiles full of officers kept coming, and all the Ministers were there. Ivan Pavlovitch told me what he had heard. It was half-past two in the morning. The secretary of the regimental Committee was there, so we told him and asked what to do.

“‘Arrest everybody coming and going!#’ he says. So we began to do it. In an hour we had some officers and a couple of Ministers, whom we sent up to Smolny right away. But the Military Revolutionary Committee wasn’t ready; they didn’t know what to do; and pretty soon back came the order to let everybody go and not arrest anybody else. Well, we ran all the way to Smolny, and I guess we talked for an hour before they finally saw that it was war. It was five o’clock when we got back to the Staff, and by that time most of them were gone. But we got a few, and the garrison was all on the march….”

A Red Guard from Vasili Ostrov described in great detail what had happened in his district on the great day of the rising. “We didn’t have any machine-guns over there,” he said, laughing, “and we couldn’t get any from Smolny. Comrade Zalking, who was a member of the Uprava (Central Bureau) of the Ward Duma, remembered all at once that there was lying in the meeting-room of the Uprava a machinegun which had been captured from the Germans. So he and I and another comrade went there. The Mensheviki and Socialist Revolutionaries were having a meeting. Well, we opened the door and walked right in on them, as they sat around the table—twelve or fifteen of them, three of us. When they saw us they stopped talking and just stared. We walked right across the room, uncoupled the machine-gun; Comrade Zalkind picked up one part, I the other, we put them on our shoulders and walked out—and not a single man said a word!”

“Do you know how the Winter Palace was captured?” asked a third man, a sailor. “Along about eleven o’clock we found out there weren’t any more yunkers on the Neva side. So we broke in the doors and filtered up the different stairways one by one, or in little bunches. When we got to the top of the stairs the yunkers held us up and took away our guns. Still our fellows kept coming up, little by little, until we had a majority. Then we turned around and took away the yunkers’ guns….”

Just then the commandant entered—a merry-looking young non-commissioned officer with his arm in a sling, and deep circles of sleeplessness under his eyes. His eye fell first on the prisoner, who at once began to explain.

“Oh, yes,” interrupted the other. “You were one of the committee who refused to surrender the Staff Wednesday afternoon. However, we don’t want you, citizen. Apologies—” He opened the door and waved his arm for Count Tolstoy to leave. Several of the others, especially the Red Guards, grumbled protests, and the sailor remarked triumphantly, “Vot! There! Didn’t I say so?”

Two soldiers now engaged his attention. They had been elected a committee of the fortress garrison to protest. The prisoners, they said, were getting the same food as the guards, when there wasn’t even enough to keep a man from being hungry. “Why should the counter-revolutionists be treated so well?”

“We are revolutionists, comrades, not bandits,” answered the commandant. He turned to us. We explained that rumours were going about that the yunkers were being tortured, and the lives of the Ministers threatened. Could we perhaps see the prisoners, so as to be able to prove to the world—?”

“No,” said the young soldier, irritably. “I am not going to disturb the prisoners again. I have just been compelled to wake them up—they were sure we were going to massacre them…. Most of the yunkers have been released anyway, and the rest will go out to-morrow.” He turned abruptly away.

“Could we talk to the Duma commission, then?”

The Commandant, who was pouring himself a glass of tea, nodded. “They are still out in the hall,” he said carelessly.

Indeed they stood there just outside the door, in the feeble light of an oil lamp, grouped around the Mayor and talking excitedly.

“Mr. Mayor,” I said, “we are American correspondents. Will you please tell us officially the result of your investigations?”

He turned to us his face of venerable dignity.

“There is no truth in the reports,” he said slowly. “Except for the incidents which occurred as the Ministers were being brought here, they have been treated with every consideration. As for the yunkers, not one has received the slightest injury….”

Up the Nevsky, in the empty after-midnight gloom, an interminable column of soldiers shuffled in silence—to battle with Kerensky. In dim back streets automobiles without lights flitted to and fro, and there was furtive activity in Fontanka 6, headquarters of the Peasants’ Soviet, in a certain apartment of a huge building on the Nevsky, and in the Injinierny Zamok (School of Engineers); the Duma was illuminated….

In Smolny Institute the Military Revolutionary Committee flashed baleful fire, pounding like an over-loaded dynamo…. Footnotes

[1] Appeals And Denunciations Appeal to all Citizens and to the Military Organisations of the Socialist Revolutionary Party.

“The senseless attempt of the Bolsheviki is on the eve of complete failure. The garrison is disaffected…. The Ministries are idle, bread is lacking. All factions except a handful of Bolsheviki have left the Congress of Soviets. The Bolsheviki are alone! Abuses of all sorts, acts of vandalism and pillage, the bombardment of the Winter Palace, arbitrary arrests—all these crimes committed by the Bolsheviki have aroused against them the resentment of the majority of the sailors and soldiers. The Tsentroflot refuses to submit to the orders of the Bolsheviki….

“We call upon all sane elements to gather around the Committee for Salvation of Country and Revolution; to take serious measures to be ready, at the first call of the Central Committee of the Party, to act against the counter-revolutionists, who will doubtless attempt to profit by these troubles provoked by the Bolshevik adventure, and to watch closely the external enemy, who also would like to take advantage of this opportune moment when the Front is weakened….”

The Military Section of the Central Committee of the Socialist Revolutionary Party.

From Pravda: “What is Kerensky? “A usurper, whose place is in Peter-Paul prison, with Kornilov and Kishkin. “A criminal and a traitor to the workers, soldiers and peasants, who believed in him. “Kerensky? A murderer of soldiers! “Kerensky? A public executioner of peasants! “Kerensky? A strangler of workers! “Such is the second Kornilov who now wants to butcher Liberty!”

Chapter VII The Revolutionary Front

SATURDAY, November 10th….


The Military Revolutionary Committee declares that it will not tolerate any violation of revolutionary order….

Theft, brigandage, assaults and attempts at massacre will be severely punished….

Following the example of the Paris Commune, the Committee will destroy without mercy any looter or instigator of disorder….

Quiet lay the city. Not a hold-up, not a robbery, not even a drunken fight. By night armed patrols went through the silent streets, and on the corners soldiers and Red Guards squatted around little fires, laughing and singing. In the daytime great crowds gathered on the sidewalks listening to interminable hot debates between students and soldiers, business men and workmen.

Citizens stopped each other on the street.

“The Cossacks are coming?”


“What’s the latest?”

“I don’t know anything. Where’s Kerensky?”

“They say only eight versts from Petrograd…. Is it true that the Bolsheviki have fled to the battleship Avrora?”

“They say so….”

Only the walls screamed, and the few newspapers; denunciation, appeal, decree….

An enormous poster carried the hysterical manifesto of the Executive Committee of the Peasant’ Soviets:

….They (the Bolsheviki) dare to say that they are supported by the Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies, and that they are speaking on behalf of the Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies….

Let all working-class Russia know that this is a LIE, AND THAT ALL THE WORKING PEASANTS—in the person of—the EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE ALL-RUSSIAN SOVIETS OF PEASANTS’ DEPUTIES—refutes with indignation all participation of the organised peasantry in this criminal violation of the will of the working-classes…. From the Soldier Section of the Socialist Revolutionary party:

The insane attempt of the Bolsheviki is on the eve of collapse. The garrison is divided…. The Ministries are on strike and bread is getting scarcer. All factions except the few Bolsheviki have left the Congress. The Bolsheviki are alone….

We call upon all sane elements to group themselves around the Committee for Salvation of Country and Revolution, and to prepare themselves seriously to be ready at the first call of the Central Committee….

In a hand-bill the Council of the Republic recited its wrongs:

Ceding to the force of bayonets, the Council of the Republic has been obliged to separate, and temporarily to interrupt its meetings.

The usurpers, with the words “Liberty and Socialism” on their lips, have set up a rule of arbitrary violence. They have arrested the members of the Provisional Government, closed the newspapers, seized the printing-shops….This power must be considered the enemy of the people and the Revolution; it is necessary to do battle with it, and to pull it down….

The Council of the Republic, until the resumption of its labours, invites the citizens of the Russian Republic to group themselves around the….local Committees for Salvation of Country and Revolution, which are organising the overthrow of the Bolsheviki and the creation of a Government capable of leading the country to the Constituent Assembly.

Dielo Narodasaid:

A revolution is a rising of all the people…. But here what have we? Nothing but a handful of poor fools deceived by Lenin and Trotzky…. Their decrees and their appeals will simply add to the museum of historical curiosities….

And Narodnoye Slovo(People’sWord—PopulistSocialist):

“Workers’ and Peasants’ Government?” That is only a pipedream; nobody, either in Russia or in the countries of our Allies, will recognise this “Government”—or even in the enemy countries….

The bourgeois press had temporarily disappeared….Pravada had an account of the first meeting of the new Tsay-ee-kah, now the parliament of the Russian Soviet Republic. Miliutin, Commissar of Agriculture, remarked that the Peasants’ Executive Committee had called an All-Russian Peasant Congress for December 13th.

“But we cannot wait,” he said. “We must have the backing of the peasants. I propose that we call the Congress of Peasants, and do it immediately….” The Left Socialist Revolutionaries agreed. An Appeal to the Peasants of Russia was hastily drafted, and a committee of five elected to carry out the project.

The question of detailed plans for distributing the land, and the question of Workers’ Control of Industry, were postponed until the experts working on them should submit a report.

Three decrees[1] were read and approved: first, Lenin’s “General Rules For the Press,” ordering the suppression of all newspapers inciting to resistance and disobedience to the new Government, inciting to criminal acts, or deliberately perverting the news; the Decree of Moratorium for House-rents; and the Decree Establishing a Workers’ Militia. Also orders, one giving the Municipal Duma power to requisition empty apartments and houses, the other directing the unloading of freight cars in the railroad terminals, to hasten the distribution of necessities and to free the badly-needed rolling-stock….

Two hours later the Executive Committee of the Peasants’ Soviets was sending broadcast over Russia the following telegram:

The arbitrary organisation of the Bolsheviki, which is called “Bureau of Organisation for the National Congress of Peasants,”is inviting all the Peasants’ Soviets to send delegates to the Congress at Petrograd….

The Executive Committee of the Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies declares that it considers, now as well as before, that it would be dangerous to take away from the provinces at this moment the forces necessary to prepare for elections to the Constituent Assembly, which is the only salvation of the working-class and the country. We confirm the date of the Congress of Peasants, December 13th.

At the Duma all was excitement, officers coming and going, the Mayor in conference with the leaders of the Committee for Salvation. A Councillor ran in with a copy of Kerensky’s proclamation, dropped by hundreds from an aeroplane low flying down the Nevsky, which threatened terrible vengeance on all who did not submit, and ordered soldiers to lay down their arms and assemble immediately in Mars Field.

The Minister-President had taken Tsarskoye Selo, we were told, and was already in the Petrograd campagna, five miles away. He would enter the city to-morrow—in a few hours. The Soviet troops in contact with his Cossacks were said to be going over to the Provisional Government. Tchernov was somewhere in between, trying to organise the “neutral” troops into a force to halt the civil war.

In the city the garrison regiments were leaving the Bolsheviki, they said. Smolny was already abandoned…. All the Governmental machinery had stopped functioning. The employees of the State Bank had refused to work under Commissars from Smolny, refused to pay out money to them. All the private banks were closed. The Ministries were on strike. Even now a committee from the Duma was making the rounds of business houses, collecting a fund[2] to pay the salaries of the strikers….

Trotzky had gone to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ordered the clerks to translate the Decree on Peace into foreign languages; six hundred functionaries had hurled their resignations in his face…. Shliapnikov, Commissar of Labour, had commanded all the employees of his Ministry to return to their places within twenty-four hours, or lose their places and their pension-rights; only the door-servants had responded…. Some of the branches of the Special Food Supply Committee had suspended work rather than submit to the Bolsheviki…. In spite of lavish promises of high wages and better conditions, the operators at the Telephone Exchange would not connect Soviet headquarters….

The Socialist Revolutionary Party had voted to expel all members who had remained in the Congress of Soviets, and all who were taking part in the insurrection….

News from the provinces. Moghilev had declared against the Bolsheviki. At Kiev the Cossacks had overthrown the Soviets and arrested all the insurrectionary leaders. The Soviet and garrison of Luga, thirty thousand strong, affirmed its loyalty to the Provisional Government, and appealed to all Russia to rally around it. Kaledin had dispersed all Soviets and Unions in the Don Basin, and his forces were moving north….

Said a representative of the Railway Workers: “Yesterday we sent a telegram all over Russia demanding that war between the political parties cease at once, and insisting on the formation of a coalition Socialist Government. Otherwise we shall call a strike to-morrow night…. In the morning there will be a meeting of all factions to consider the question. The Bolsheviki seem anxious for an agreement….”

“If they last that long!” laughed the City Engineer, a stout, ruddy man….

As we came up to Smolny—not abandoned, but busier than ever, throngs of workers and soldiers running in and out, and doubled guards everywhere—we met the reporters for the bourgeois and “moderate” Socialist papers.

“Threw us out!” cried one, from Volia Naroda. “Bonch-Bruevitch came down to the Press Bureau and told us to leave! Said we were spies!” They all began to talk at once: “Insult! Outrage! Freedom of the press!”

In the lobby were great tables heaped with stacks of appeals, proclamations and orders of the Military Revolutionary Committee. Workmen and soldiers staggered past, carrying them to waiting automobiles.

To The Pillory!

In this tragic moment through which the Russian masses are living, the Mensheviki and their followers and the Right Socialist Revolutionaries have betrayed the working-class. They have enlisted on the side of Kornilov, Kerensky and Savinkov….

They are printing orders of the traitor Kerensky and creating a panic in the city, spreading the most ridiculous rumours of mythical victories by that renegade….

Citizens! Don’t believe these false rumours. No power can defeat the People’s Revolution…. Premier Kerensky and his followers await speedy and well-deserved punishment….

We are putting them in the Pillory. We are abandoning them to the enmity of all workers, soldiers, sailors and peasants, on whom they are trying to rivet the ancient chains. They will never be able to wash from their bodies the stain of the people’s hatred and contempt.

Shame and curses to the traitors of the People!…

The Military Revolutionary Committee had moved into larger quarters, room 17 on the top floor. Red Guards were at the door. Inside, the narrow space in front of the railing was crowded with well-dressed persons, outwardly respectful but inwardly full of murder—bourgeois who wanted permits for their automobiles, or passports to leave the city, among them many foreigners…. Bill Shatov and Peters were on duty. They suspended all other business to read us the latest bulletins.

The One Hundred Seventy-ninth Reserve Regiment offers its unanimous support. Five thousand stevedores at the Putilov wharves greet the new Government. Central Committee of the Trade Unions—enthusiastic support. The garrison and squadron at Reval elect Military Revolutionary Committees to cooperate, and despatch troops. Military Revolutionary Committees control in Pskov and Minsk. Greetings from the Soviets of Tsaritzin, Rovensky-on-Don, Tchernogorsk, Sevastopol…. The Finland Division, the new Committees of the Fifth and Twelfth Armies, offer allegiance….

From Moscow the news is uncertain. Troops of the Military Revolutionary Committee occupy the strategic points of the city; two companies on duty in the Kremlin have gone over to the Soviets, but the Arsenal is in the hands of Colonel Diabtsev and his yunkers. The Revolutionary Committee demanded arms for the workers, and Riabtsev parleyed with them until this morning, when suddenly he sent an ultimatum to the Committee, ordering Soviet troops to surrender and the Committee to disband. Fighting has begun….

In Petrograd the Staff submitted to Smolny’s Commissars at once. The Tsentroflot, refusing, was stormed by Dybenko and a company of Cronstadt sailors, and a new Tsentroflot set up, supported by the Baltic and the Black Sea battleships….

But beneath all the breezy assurance there was a chill premonition, a feeling of uneasiness in the air. Kerensky’s Cossacks were coming fast; they had artillery. Skripnik, Secretary of the Factory-Shop Committees, his face drawn and yellow, assured me that there was a whole army corps of them, but he added, fiercely, “They’ll never take us alive!” Petrovsky laughed weariedly, “To-morrow maybe we’ll get a sleep—a long one….” Lozovsky, with his emaciated, red-bearded face, said, “What chance have we? All alone…. A mob against trained soldiers!”

South and south-west the Soviets had fled before Kerensky, and the garrisons of Gatchina, Pavlovsk, Tsarskoye Selo were divided—half voting to remain neutral, the rest, without officers, falling back on the capital in the wildest disorder.

In the halls they were pasting up bulletins:


To be communicated to all Commanders of Staffs, Commanders in Chief, Commanders, everywhere and to all, all, all.

The ex-Minister Kerensky has sent a deliberately false telegram to every one everywhere to the effect that the troops of revolutionary Petrograd have voluntarily surrendered their arms and joined the armies of the former Government, the Government of Treason, and that the soldiers have been ordered by the Military Revolutionary Committee to retreat. The troops of a free people do not retreat nor do they surrender.

Our troops have left Gatchina in order to avoid bloodshed between themselves and their mistaken brother-Cossacks, and in order to take a more convenient position, which is at present so strong that if Kerensky and his companions in arms should even increase their forces ten times, still there would be no cause for anxiety. The spirit of our troops is excellent.

In Petrograd all is quiet.

Chief of the Defence of Petrograd and the Petrograd District,

Lieutenant-Colonel Muraviov.

As we left the Military Revolutionary Committee Antonov entered, a paper in his hand, looking like a corpse.

“Send this,” said he.


The Kornilovist bands of Kerensky are threatening the approaches to the capital. All the necessary orders have been given to crush mercilessly the counter-revolutionary attempt against the people and its conquests.

The Army and the Red Guard of the Revolution are in need of the immediate support of the workers.


1. To move out the greatest possible number of workers for the digging of trenches, the erection of barricades and reinforcing of wire entanglements.

2. Wherever it shall be necessary for this purpose to stop work at the factories this shall be done immediately.

3. All common and barbed wire available must be assembled, and also all implements for the digging of trenches and the erection of barricades.

4. All available arms must be taken.


Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet of Worker’s and Soldiers’ Deputies,

People’s Commissar LEON TROTZKY.

Chairman of the Military Revolutionary Committee,

Commander in Chief PODVOISKY.

As we came out into the dark and gloomy day all around the grey horizon factory whistles were blowing, a hoarse and nervous sound, full of foreboding. By tens of thousands the working-people poured out, men and women; by tens of thousands the humming slums belched out their dun and miserable hordes. Red Petrograd was in danger! Cossacks! South and southwest they poured through the shabby streets toward the Moskovsky Gate, men, women and children, with rifles, picks, spades, rolls of wire, cartridge-belts over their working clothes…. Such an immense, spontaneous outpouring of a city never was seen! They rolled along torrent-like, companies of soldiers borne with them, guns, motor-trucks, wagons—the revolutionary proletariat defending with its breast the capital of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Republic!

Before the door of Smolny was an automobile. A slight man with thick glasses magnifying his red-rimmed eyes, his speech a painful effort, stood leaning against a mud-guard with his hands in the pockets of a shabby raglan. A great bearded sailor, with the clear eyes of youth, prowled restlessly about, absently toying with an enormous blue-steel revolver, which never left his hand. These were Antonov and Dybenko.

Some soldiers were trying to fasten two military bicycles on the running-board. The chauffeur violently protested; the enamel would get scratched, he said. True, he was a Bolshevik, and the automobile was commandeered from a bourgeois; true, the bicycles were for the use of orderlies. But the chauffeur’s professional pride was revolted…. So the bicycles were abandoned….

The People’s Commissars for War and Marine were going to inspect the revolutionary front—wherever that was. Could we go with them? Certainly not. The automobile only held five—the two Commissars, two orderlies and the chauffeur. However, a Russian acquaintance of mine, whom I will call Trusishka, calmly got in and sat down, nor could any argument dislodge him….

I see no reason to doubt Trusishka’s story of the journey. As they went down the Suvorovsky Prospect some one mentioned food. They might be out three or four days, in a country indifferently well provisioned. They stopped the car. Money? The Commissar of War looked through his pockets—he hadn’t a kopek. The Commissar of Marine was broke. So was the chauffeur. Trusishka bought the provisions….

Just as they turned into the Nevsky a tire blew out.

“What shall we do?” asked Antonov.

“Commandeer another machine!” suggested Dybenko, waving his revolver. Antonov stood in the middle of the street and signalled a passing machine, driven by a soldier.

“I want that machine,” said Antonov.

“You won’t get it,” responded the soldier.

“Do you know who I am?” Antonov produced a paper upon which was written that he had been appointed Commander-in-Chief of all the armies of the Russian Republic, and that every one should obey him without question.

“I don’t care if you’re the devil himself,” said the soldier, hotly. “This machine belongs to the First Machine-Gun Regiment, and we’re carrying ammunition in it, and you can’t have it….”

The difficulty, however, was solved by the appearance of an old battered taxi-cab, flying the Italian flag. (In time of trouble private cars were registered in the name of foreign consulates, so as to be safe from requisition.) From the interior of this was dislodged a fat citizen in an expensive fur coat, and the party continued on its way.

Arrived at Narvskaya Zastava, about ten miles out, Antonov called for the commandant of the Red Guard. He was led to the edge of the town, where some few hundred workmen had dug trenches and were waiting for the Cossacks.

“Everything all right here, comrade?” asked Antonov.

“Everything perfect, comrade,” answered the commandant.

“The troops are in excellent spirits…. Only one thing—we have no ammunition….”

“In Smolny there are two billion rounds,” Antonov told him. “I will give you an order.” He felt in his pockets. “Has any one a piece of paper?”

Dybenko had none—nor the couriers. Trusishka had to offer his note-book….

“Devil! I have no pencil!” cried Antonov. “Who’s got a pencil?” Needless to say, Trusishka had the only pencil in the crowd….

We who were left behind made for the Tsarskoye Selo station. Up the Nevsky, as we passed, Red Guards were marching, all armed, some with bayonets and some without. The early twilight of winter was falling. Heads up they tramped in the chill mud, irregular lines of four, without music, without drums. A red flag crudely lettered in gold, “Peace! Land!” floated over them. They were very young. The expression on their faces was that of who know they are going to die…. Half-fearful, half-contemptuous, the crowds on the sidewalk watched them pass, in hateful silence….

This pass was issued upon the recommendation of Trotzky three days after the Bolshevik Revolution. It gives me the right of free travel to the Northern front—and an added note on the back extends the permission to all fronts. It will be noticed that the speaks of the Petersburg, instead of the Petrograd Soviet; it was the fashion among thorough-going internationalists to abolish all names which smacked of “patriotism”; but at the same time, it would not do to restore the “Saint.”…


Executive Committee

Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’


Military Section

28th October, 1917

No. 1435


The present certificate is given to the representative of the American Social Democracy, the internationalist comrade JOHN REED. The Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies gives him the right of free travel through the entire Northern front, for the purpose of reporting to our American comrades-internationalists concerning events in Russia.

For the President

For the Secretary At the railroad station nobody knew just where Kerensky was, or where the front lay. Trains went no further, however, than Tsarskoye….

Our car was full of commuters and country people going home, laden with bundles and evening papers. The talk was all of the Bolshevik rising. Outside of that, however, one would never have realised that civil war was rending mighty Russia in two, and that the train was headed into the zone of battle. Through the window we could see, in the swiftly-deepening darkness, masses of soldiers going along the muddy road toward the city, flinging out their arms in argument. A freight-train, swarming with troops and lit up by huge bonfires, was halted on a siding. That was all. Back along the flat horizon the glow of the city’s lights faded down the night. A street-car crawled distantly along a far-flung suburb….

Tsarskoye Selo-station was quiet, but knots of soldiers stood here and there talking in low tones and looking uneasily down the empty track in the direction of Gatchina. I asked some of them which side they were on. “Well,” said one, “we don’t exactly know the rights of the matter…. There is no doubt that Kerensky is a provocator, but we do not consider it right for Russian men to be shooting Russian men.”

In the station commandant’s office was a big, jovial, bearded common soldier, wearing the red arm-band of a regimental committee. Our credentials from Smolny commanded immediate respect. He was plainly for the Soviets, but bewildered.

“The Red Guards were here two hours ago, but they went away again. A Commissar came this morning, but he returned to Petrograd when the Cossacks arrived.”

“The Cossacks are here then?”

He nodded, gloomily. “There has been a battle. The Cossacks came early in the morning. They captured two or three hundred of our men, and killed about twenty-five.”

“Where are the Cossacks?”

“Well, they didn’t get this far. I don’t know just where they are. Off that way….” He waved his arm vaguely westward.

We had dinner—an excellent dinner, better and cheaper than could be got in Petrograd—in the station restaurant. Nearby sat a French officer who had just come on foot from Gatchina. All was quiet there, he said. Kerensky held the town. “Ah, these Russians,” he went on, “they are original! What a civil war! Everything except the fighting!”

We sallied out into the town. Just at the door of the station stood two soldiers with rifles and bayonets fixed. They were surrounded by about a hundred business men, Government officials and students, who attacked them with passionate argument and epithet. The soldiers were uncomfortable and hurt, like children unjustly scolded.

A tall young man with a supercilious expression, dressed in the uniform of a student, was leading the attack.

“You realise, I presume,” he said insolently, “that by taking up arms against your brothers you are making your-selves the tools of murderers and traitors?”

“Now brother,”answered the soldier earnestly, “you don’t understand. There are two classes, don’t you see, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. We——”

“Oh, I know that silly talk!” broke in the student rudely. “A bunch of ignorant peasants like you hear somebody bawling a few catch-words. You don’t understand what they mean. You just echo them like a lot of parrots.” The crowd laughed. “I’m a Marxian student. And I tell you that this isn’t Socialism you are fighting for. It’s just plain pro-German anarchy!”

“Oh, yes, I know,” answered the soldier, with sweat dripping from his brow. “You are an educated man, that is easy to see, and I am only a simple man. But it seems to me——”

“I suppose,” interrupted the other contemptuously, “that you believe Lenin is a real friend of the proletariat?”

“Yes, I do,” answered the soldier, suffering.

“Well, my friend, do you know that Lenin was sent through Germany in a closed car? Do you know that Lenin took money from the Germans?”

“Well, I don’t know much about that,” answered the soldier stubbornly, “but it seems to me that what he says is what I want to hear, and all the simple men like me. Now there are two classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat——”

“You are a fool! Why, my friend, I spent two years in Schlüsselburg for revolutionary activity, when you were still shooting down revolutionists and singing ‘God Save the Tsar!’ My name is Vasili Georgevitch Panyin. Didn’t you ever hear of me?”

“I’m sorry to say I never did,” answered the soldier with humility. “But then, I am not an educated man. You are probably a great hero.”

“I am,” said the student with conviction. “And I am opposed to the Bolsheviki, who are destroying our Russia, our free Revolution. Now how do you account for that?”

The soldier scratched his head. “I can’t account for it at all,” he said, grimacing with the pain of his intellectual processes. “To me it seems perfectly simple—but then, I’m not well educated. It seems like there are only two classes, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie——”

“There you go again with your silly formula!” cried the student.

“——only two classes,” went on the soldier, doggedly.

ldquo;And whoever isn’t on one side is on the other…”

We wandered on up the street, where the lights were few and far between, and where people rarely passed. A threatening silence hung over the place—as of a sort of purgatory between heaven and hell, a political No Man’s Land. Only the barber shops were all brilliantly lighted and crowded, and a line formed at the doors of the public bath; for it was Saturday night, when all Russia bathes and perfumes itself. I haven’t the slightest doubt that Soviet troops and Cossacks mingled in the places where these ceremonies were performed.

The nearer we came to the Imperial Park, the more deserted were the streets. A frightened priest pointed out the headquarters of the Soviet, and hurried on. It was in the wing of one of the Grand Ducal palaces, fronting the Park. The windows were dark, the door locked. A soldier, lounging about with his hands in the top of his trousers, looked us up and down with gloomy suspicion. “The Soviet went away two days ago,” said he. “Where?” A shrug. “Nie znayu. I don’t know.”

A little further along was a large building, brightly illuminated. From within came a sound of hammering. While we were hesitating, a soldier and a sailor came down the street, hand in hand. I showed them my pass from Smolny. “Are you for the Soviets?” I asked. They did not answer, but looked at each other in a frightened way.

“What is going on in there?” asked the sailor, pointing to the building.

“I don’t know.”

Timidly the soldier put out his hand and opened the door a crack. Inside a great hall hung with bunting and evergreens, rows of chairs, a stage being built.

A stout woman with a hammer in her hand and her mouth full of tacks came out. “What do you want?” she asked.

“Is there a performance to-night?” said the sailor, nervously.

“There will be private theatricals Sunday night,” she answered severely. “Go away.”

We tried to engage the soldier and sailor in conversation, but they seemed frightened and unhappy, and drew off into the darkness.

We strolled toward the Imperial Palaces, along the edge of the vast, dark gardens, their fantastic pavilions and ornamental bridges looming uncertainly in the night, and soft water splashing from the fountains. At one place, where a ridiculous iron swan spat unceasingly from an artificial grotto, we were suddenly aware of observation, and looked up to encounter the sullen, suspicious gaze of half a dozen gigantic armed soldiers, who stared moodily down from a grassy terrace. I climbed up to them. “Who are you?” I asked.

“We are the guard,” answered one. They all looked very depressed, as undoubtedly they were, from weeks and weeks of all-day all-night argument and debate.

“Are you Kerensky’s troops, or the Soviets’?”

There was silence for a moment, as they looked uneasily at each other. Then, “We are neutral,” said he.

We went on through the arch of the huge Ekaterina Palace, into the Palace enclosure itself, asking for headquarters. A sentry outside a door in a curving white wing of the Palace said that the commandant was inside.

In a graceful, white, Georgian room, divided into unequal parts by a two-sided fire-place, a group of officers stood anxiously talking. They were pale and distracted, and evidently hadn’t slept. To one, an oldish man with a white beard, his uniform studded with decorations, who was pointed out as the Colonel, we showed our Bolshevik papers.

He seemed surprised. “How did you get here without being killed?” he asked politely. “It is very dangerous in the streets just now. Political passion is running very high in Tsarskoye Selo. There was a battle this morning, and there will be another to-morrow morning. Kerensky is to enter the town at eight o’clock.”

“Where are the Cossacks?”

“About a mile over that way.” He waved his arm.

“And you will defend the city against them?”

“Oh dear no.” He smiled. “We are holding the city for Kerensky.” Our hearts sank, for our passes stated that we were revolutionary to the core. The Colonel cleared his throat. “About those passes of yours,” he went on. “Your lives will be in danger if you are captured. Therefore, if you want to see the battle, I will give you an order for rooms in the officers’ hotel, and if you will come back here at seven o’clock in the morning, I will give you new passes.”

“So you are for Kerensky?” we said.

“Well, not exactly for Kerensky.” The Colonel hesitated. “You see, most of the soldiers in the garrison are Bolsheviki, and to-day, after the battle, they all went away in the direction of Petrograd, taking the artillery with them. You might say that none of the soldiers are for Kerensky; but some of them just don’t want to fight at all. The officers have almost all gone over to Kerensky’s forces, or simply gone away. We are—ahem—in a most difficult position, as you see….”

We did not believe that there would be any battle…. The Colonel courteously sent his orderly to escort us to the railroad station. He was from the South, born of French immigrant parents in Bessarabia. “Ah,” he kept saying, “it is not the danger or the hardships I mind, but being so long, three years, away from my mother….”

Looking out of the window of the train as we sped through the cold dark toward Petrograd, I caught glimpses of clumps of soldiers gesticulating in the light of fires, and of clusters of armoured cars halted together at cross-roads, the chauffeurs hanging out of the turrets and shouting to each other….

All the troubled night over the bleakflats leaderless bands of soldiers and Red Guards wandered, clashing and confused, and the Commissars of the Military Revolutionary Committee hurried from one group to another, trying to organise a defence….

Back in town excited throngs were moving in tides up and down the Nevsky. Something was in the air. From the Warsaw Railway station could be heard far-off cannonade. In the yunker schools there was feverish activity. Duma members went from barracks to barracks, arguing and pleading, narrating fearful stories of Bolshevik violence—massacre of the yunkers in the Winter Palace, rape of the women soldiers, the shooting of the girl before the Duma, the murder of Prince Tumanov…. In the Alexander Hall of the Duma building the Committee for Salvation was in special session; Commissars came and went, running…. All the journalists expelled from Smolny were there, in high spirits. They did not believe our report of conditions in Tsarskoye. Why, everybody knew that Tsarskoye was in Kerensky’s hands, and that the Cossacks were now at Pulkovo. A committee was being elected to meet Kerensky at the railway station in the morning….

One confided to me, in strictest secrecy, that the counter-revolution would begin at midnight. He showed me two proclamations, one signed by Gotz and Polkovnikov, ordering the yunker schools, soldier convalescents in the hospitals, and the Knights of St. George to mobilise on a war footing and wait for orders from the Committee for Salvation; the other from the Committee for Salvation itself, which read as follows:

To the Population of Petrograd!

Comrades, workers, soldiers and citizens of revolutionary Petrograd!

The Bolsheviki, while appealing for peace at the front, are inciting to civil war in the rear.

Do not dig their provocatory appeals!

Do not dig trenches!

Down with the traitorous barricades!

Lay down your arms!

Soldiers, return to your barracks!

The war begun in Petrograd—is the death of the Revolution!

In the name of liberty, land, and peace, unite around the Committee for Salvation of Country and Revolution!

As we left the Duma a company of Red Guards, stern-faced and desperate, came marching down the dark, deserted street with a dozen prisoners—members of the local branch of the Council of Cossacks, caught red-handed plotting counter-revolution in their headquarters….

A soldier, accompanied by a small boy with a pail of paste, was sticking up great flaring notices:

By virtue of the present, the city of Petrograd and its suburbs are declared in a state of siege. All assemblies or meetings in the streets, and generally in the open air, are forbidden until further orders.

N. Podvoisky, President of the Military Revolutionary Committee.

As we went home the air was full of confused sound—automobile horns, shouts, distant shots. The city stirred uneasily, wakeful.

In the small hours of the morning a company of yunkers, disguised as soldiers of the Semionovsky Regiment, presented themselves at the Telephone Exchange just before the hour of changing guard. They had the Bolshevik password, and took charge without arousing suspicion. A few minutes later Antonov appeared, making a round of inspection. Him they captured and locked in a small room. When the relief came it was met by a blast of rifle-fire, several being killed.

Counter-revolution had begun… Footnotes

[1] Two Decrees On the Press

In the serious decisive hour of the Revolution and the days immediately following it, the Provisional Revolutionary Committee is compelled to adopt a series of measures against the counter-revolutionary press of all shades.

Immediately on all sides there are cries that the new Socialist authority is in this violating the essential principles of its own programme by an attempt against the freedom of the press.

The Workers’ and Peasants’ Government calls the attention of the population to the fact that in our country, behind this liberal shield, is hidden the opportunity for the wealthier classes to seize the lion’s share of the whole press, and by this means to poison the popular mind and bring confusion into the consciousness of the masses.

Every one knows that the bourgeois press is one of the most powerful weapons of the bourgeoisie. Especially in this critical moment, when the new authority of the workers and peasants is in process of consolidation, it is impossible to leave it in the hands of the enemy, at a time when it is not less dangerous than bombs and machine-guns. This is why temporary and extraordinary measures have been adopted for the purpose of stopping the flow of filth and calumny in which the yellow and green press would be glad to drown the young victory of the people.

As soon as the new order is consolidated, all administrative measures against the press will be suspended; full liberty will be given it within the limits of responsibility before the law, in accordance with the broadest and most progressive regulations….

Bearing in mind, however, the fact that any restrictions of the freedom of the press, even in critical moments, are admissible only within the bounds of necessity, the Council of People’s Commissars decrees as follows:

1. The following classes of newspapers shall be subject to closure: (a) Those inciting to open resistance or disobedience to the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government; (b) Those creating confusion by obviously and deliberately perverting the news; (c) Those inciting to acts of a criminal character punishable by the laws.

2. The temporary or permanent closing of any organ of the press shall be carried out only by virtue of a resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars.

3. The present decree is of a temporary nature, and will be revoked by a special ukaz when normal conditions of public life are re-established.

President of the Council of People’s Commissars,

Vladimir Ulianov (Lenin). On Workers’ Militia

1. All Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies shall form a Workers’ Militia.

2. This Workers’ Militia shall be entirely at the orders of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.

3. Military and civil authorities must render every assistance in arming the workers and in supplying them with technical equipment, even to the extent of requisitioning arms belonging to the War Department of the Government.

4. This decree shall be promulgated by telegraph. Petrograd, November 10, 1917.

People’s Commissar of the Interior A. I. Rykov.

This decree encouraged the formation of companies of Red Guards all over Russia, which became the most valuable arm of the Soviet Government in the ensuing civil war.

[2] The Strike Fund The fund for the striking Government employees and bank clerks was subscribed by banks and business houses of Petrograd and other cities, and also by foreign corporations doing business in Russia. All who consented to strike against the Bolsheviki were paid full wages, and in some cases their pay was increased. It was the realisation of the strike fund contributors that the Bolsheviki were firmly in power, followed by their refusal to pay strike benefits, which finally broke the strike.

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