Vladimir Illich Ulyanov (later known as Lenin) was born in Simbirsk, Russia, on 10th April, 1870. His father, Ilya Ulyanov, a former science teacher, had recently become a local schools inspector. He held conservative views and was a devout member of the Russian Orthodox Church. Lenin had two older siblings, Anna (born 1864) and Alexander (born 1868). They were followed by three more children, Olga (born 1871), Dmitry (born 1874), and Maria (born 1878).
His mother, Maria Blank Ulyanov, had a German grandmother, and according to Maria Ulyanov. the children were "reared to a certain degree in German traditions". Maria was largely self-educated and taught herself German, French and English. She helped Vladimir with his studies and taught him to read and gave him piano lessons. He later gave this up as he thought playing the piano was "an unbecoming occupation for boys". (1)
In 1874 Ilya Ulyanov was promoted to the post of director of schools. "Upon his shoulders lay the responsibility for the training, assignment, and discipline of the teachers, and for the organization and curricula of the elementary schools. In a province as backward and poor as Simbirsk the job was likely to be of back-breaking proportions. It took not only career considerations but real devotion to education on the part of Ulyanov to exchange the more congenial post of the high school teacher... for the task of supervising elementary education in a bleak province of about one million inhabitants." (2)
Lenin was educated at the Simbirsk Gymnasium. His headmaster was Fyodor Kerensky, the father of Alexander Kerensky. Although Lenin despised the conservative views of his teachers he still managed to do well in his examinations. While at school he developed a love for history and languages. His brother, Dmitry, later recalled the meticulous care that he put into his homework: "He never wrote them on the eve of the day when they were to be handed in, as most students did. On the contrary, on being assigned the subject, Vladimir Ilyich set to work immediately. On a quarter of a sheet of paper he would make an outline together with the introduction and conclusion. He would then take another sheet, fold it in half, and make a rough draft on the left side of the paper, in accordance with his outline. The right side or margin remained clear. Here he would enter additions, explanations, corrections, as well as source indications... Then, shortly before it was necessary to hand it in, he would take some new clean sheets of paper and write the composition... referring to his notes and sources in various books." (3)
His father was a monarchist and was a supporter of Tsar Alexander II and his Emancipation Manifesto that proposed 17 legislative acts that would free the serfs in Russia. Alexander announced that personal serfdom would be abolished and all peasants would be able to buy land from their landlords. The State would advance the the money to the landlords and they would recover it from the peasants in 49 annual sums known as redemption payments. (4) However, as his critics pointed out: "With a population of sixty-seven million, Russia had twenty-three million serfs belonging to 103,000 landlords. The arable land which the freed peasantry had to rent or buy was valued at about double its real value (342 million roubles instead of 180 million); yesterday's serfs discovered that, in becoming free, they were now hopelessly in debt." (5)
It is claimed that Ilya Ulyanov "believed in change, redemption, improvement, enlightenment, good deeds, cold baths, fresh air, and self-discipline" When the Tsar was assassinated in April 1881, he was extremely upset and left his office immediately, came home, put on his uniform and went to the cathedral, where a memorial service was conducted. "His children remarked on how shaken he was by the tragic event." (6)
Ilya Ulyanov died of a brain haemorrhage in January 1886, when Lenin was 16. Soon afterwards he lost his faith. A friend later wrote: "When he perceived clearly that there was no God, he tore the cross violently from his neck, spat upon it contemptuously, and threw it away. In short he freed himself from religious prejudices in typical revolutionary Leninist fashion, without prolonged hesitation or timid consideration, without mental struggle with the spirit of doubt." (7)
Lenin's brother, Alexander Ulyanov studied natural sciences at St. Petersburg University. He was an excellent student and at first he took no interest in politics and told a fellow student in 1886: "It is absurd, even immoral, for a man who has no understanding of medicine to cure the sick. How much more absurd and immoral it is to seek to heal social ills without understanding their cause." (8)
Lenin idolized his older brother but was dismissive of his lack of interest in politics: "Alexander will never be a revolutionist. On his last summer visit home he spent his time preparing a dissertation on Annelides and worked constantly with his microscope. A revolutionist cannot possibly devote so much time to the study of Annelides." Ulyanov's studies won him a gold medal in zoology. However, after the death of his father, he became involved in politics. (9)
Alexander Ulyanov became a member of the People's Will (Narodnaya Volya) and organization that had assassinated Alexander II and now had plans to kill his son, Alexander III. In secret meetings at his apartment, plans were laid to kill the Tsar on 1st March 1887, the sixth anniversary of the assassination of his father. Ulyanov also prepared a manifesto to the Russian people, to be published immediately after the Tsar's death. It began: "The spirit of the Russian land lives and the truth is not extinguished in the hearts of her sons." (10)
As David Shub, the author of Lenin (1948), has pointed out, the secret police was aware of the conspiracy. "The date was advanced several days when the terrorists learned that the Tsar was planning to leave for his summer palace in the Crimea. Assassins were planted in the square before St Isaac's Cathedral. But the Tsar did not appear and at twilight the conspirators returned to their underground headquarters. Ulyanov then heard that on 28 February the Tsar was to drive along the Nevsky Prospect, probably to attend memorial services at his father's crypt in the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul. Once more the terrorists waited, but no Tsar's carriage appeared. The secret police, suspecting an assassination plot, had warned the monarch to remain in the Winter Palace. Hours later the terrorists left their stations along the Nevsky and met in a tavern. One of them, Andreiushkin, had been shadowed for days by detectives. They followed him to the tavern, where he and his comrades were seized." (11)
In Ulyanov's possession they found a code-book with a number of incriminating names and addresses, including that of the Polish revolutionary leader, Josef Pilsudski. Over the next few days hundreds of suspects were picked up in various cities and towns throughout Russia, the police having obtained the key to the code by torturing one of the terrorists. They singled out fifteen men, including Ulyanov, for trial. The charge: conspiracy to assassinate the Tsar. (12)
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Alexander's mother, Maria Ulyanov, wrote a letter to Tsar Alexander III and asked for permission to see her son. The Tsar wrote in the margin of the letter: "I think it would be advisable to allow her to visit her son, so that she might see for herself the kind of person this precious son of hers is." During her visit Ulyanov told his mother that he was sorry for the suffering he had caused her but admitted that his first allegiance was to the revolutionary movement. As a revolutionist, he had no alternative but to fight for his country's liberation. (13)
At his trial Alexander Ulyanov refused to be represented by counsel and carried out his own defence. In an attempt to save his own comrades, he confessed to acts he had never committed. In his final address to the court Ulyanov argued: "My purpose was to aid in the liberation of the unhappy Russian people. Under a system which permits no freedom of expression and crushes every attempt to work for their welfare and enlightenment by legal means, the only instrument that remains is terror. We cannot fight this regime in open battle, because it is too firmly entrenched and commands enormous powers of repression. Therefore, any individual sensitive to injustice must resort to terror. Terror is our answer to the violence of the state. It is the only way to force a despotic regime to grant political freedom to the people." He stated that he was not afraid to die as "there is no death more honourable than death for the common good". (14)
Ulyanov's mother pleaded with her son to ask for imperial clemency. He refused, although some of his co-defendants petitioned the Tsar and their death sentences were commuted. Helen Rappaport, the author of Conspirator: Lenin in Exile (2009): "On 8 May, having been lulled into a false sense of security that their sentences were to be commuted, the men were woken at 3.30 a.m. and informed that they were to be executed in half an hour's time. The prison officials had been so secretive in the construction of the gallows during those intervening three days that none of the prisoners in the isolation block had known. But they only had room for three gallows, which had been made up in sections, outside the prison, and silently assembled near the main entrance, without so much as a single blow of an axe being heard. As the rest of the prisoners slept the heavy sleep of those with an eternity on their hands, the commandant, priest and guards accompanied the five prisoners in single file to the place of execution. The condemned men were offered the consolation of a priest but all refused. There being only three gallows, they had to hang them in two batches... The sack was thrown over their heads and the stools kicked from under them. The condemned in Russia were not yet accorded the merciful death of the trapdoor, but a slower one, by strangulation." (15)
When the St Petersburg newspaper carrying the news of Ulyanov's execution reached his family in Simbirsk. His 17 year-old brother, Lenin, was reported as saying "I'll make them pay for this! I swear it." However, he was not tempted to become a terrorist like his brother. According to his sister Maria, Lenin said: "No , we shall not take take that road (the one chosen by Alexander) our road must be different." (16) Lenin was later to write: "The utter uselessness of terror is clearly shown by the experience of the Russian revolutionary movement... Individual acts of terrorism create only a short-lived sensation, and lead in the long run to an apathy, and the passive awaiting of yet another sensation." (17)
Joel Carmichael has pointed out, Lenin and other young intellectuals in Russia turned away from terrorism to the ideas of Karl Marx: "Perhaps the chief appeal that Marxism held for the Russian intelligentsia, even more so than for the intellectuals of other countries, was its combination of a powerful messianic yearning with an appearance of scientific methodology. It offered youthful enthusiasts the best of both worlds. Their ardent desire to change the world was fortified by sound, or seemingly sound, scientific reasons as to why this was not only possible, but was, even more seductively, inevitable. As far as Russia was concerned, Marxism may be summed up as the contention that Russian history is a part of world history and that, because of this, Russia must pass through capitalism in order to reach the future socialist society. It was not the peasantry, Marxists thought, that would be able to lead the march to socialism, but the industrial working class. Terrorism had to be abandoned as a tactic that was both futile and, in view of the objectively developing social forces, superfluous. The main task of the revolutionary leaders was to be the creation of a disciplined working-class party to conduct Russia into the promised land." (18)
As the brother of a state criminal, attempts were made to stop Lenin from entering university. Eventually he was allowed to study law at Kazan University. While at university Lenin became involved in politics. After one protest demonstration he was arrested and taken to the local police station. One of the police officers asked: "Why are you rebelling, young man? After all, there is a wall in front of you." Lenin confidently replied: "The wall is tottering, you only have to push it for it to fall over." (19)
Lenin was now expelled from Kazan University and so he went to St. Petersburg and studied as an external student. After passing his law exams in 1891, Lenin started practising law in Samara. He studied the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels but complained that he could find "no one in Samara who was interested in Marxist theory although there was a small group of Narodniki (populists) and a fairly good, illegal library... but there was no one with whom he could carry on intelligent theoretical discussions." (20)
Lenin returned to St. Petersburg in 1893. He continued his involvement in politics and in 1895 went to Switzerland to meet George Plekhanov, Pavel Axelrod, Vera Zasulich and Lev Deich and other members of the Liberation of Labour group. He was especially impressed with Plekhanov who "had begun almost single-handed a new tradition in Russian radicalism". The feelings were mutual: "Plekhanov was overjoyed at the evidence of the growth of Marxism in his country. He predicted for his young pupil a great future as a working-class leader." (21)
On 25th December, 1894, Alexander Potresov met Lenin for the first time. Lenin was 24 years old but he looked much older: "His face was worn; his entire head bald, except for some thin hair at the temples, and he had a scanty reddish beard. His squinting eyes peered slyly from under his brows... My opinion was that he undoubtedly represented a great force." (21a)
When Lenin returned to Russia in 1896, and along with a group of friends, including Jules Martov, he formed the Union of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class. During a textile strike that year they published leaflets and appeals in support of the strikers. Their main demand was for a reduction in the working day from thirteen hours to ten-and-a-half. The first strike ended in failure but a second strike, that lasted from January to March, 1897, was a success and the employers agreed to a shorter working day. (22)
The secret police was aware of Lenin activities and was arrested and sentenced to three years internal exile in Siberia. His close colleague, Nadezhda Krupskaya, joined Lenin in Shushenskoye and they married in July, 1898. While living in exile Lenin wrote The Development of Capitalism in Russia, The Tasks of Russian Social Democrats, as well as articles for various socialist journals. Lenin and Krupskaya also translated from English to Russian, The Theory and Practice of Trade Unionism by Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb. (23)
Released in February, 1900, Lenin, and Jules Martov decided to leave Russia. They moved to Geneva where they joined up with George Plekhanov, Pavel Axelrod and other members of the Liberation of Labour to publish Iskra (Spark). The paper was named after a passage from a poem: "The spark will kindle a flame". Others who joined the venture included Alexander Potresov, Gregory Zinoviev, Leon Trotsky, Vera Zasulich, Yuri Piatakov and Evgenia Bosh. Clara Zetkin, a German revolutionary, arranged for Iskra to be printed in Leipzig. According to Trotsky the group "advocated a centralized revolutionary party". (24)
In the first forty-five issues of the journal Martov wrote thirty-nine articles and Lenin thirty-two; while Plekhanov had done twenty-four, Potresov eight, Zasulich six, Axelrod four and Trotsky two. Rosa Luxemburg and Alexander Parvus also wrote the occasional article. "Lenin and Martov had done all the technical editorial work. Though their emphases and approaches had been distinct, there had been no shadow of political difference." (24a)
The newspaper now became the official journal of the Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP), an organization that attempted to unite all socialist groups in favour of the overthrow of the autocracy in Russia. In their manifesto, composed by Peter Struve, the SDLP argued: "The principle and immediate goal of the Party is to achieve political freedom. The Social Democrats strive for the very aim already defined by the heroic fighters of the People Will. The ways and means of Social Democracy are, however, different. Their selection is determined by its avowed will to become and remain the class movement of the organized working masses." (25)
In March, 1902 Lenin published a pamphlet, What Is To Be Done? where he argued for a party of professional revolutionaries dedicated to the overthrow of Tsarism. "Socialist consciousness cannot exist among the workers. This can be introduced only from without. The history of all countries shows that by its unaided efforts the working-class can only develop a trade-union consciousness, that is to say, a conviction of the necessity to form trade unions, struggle with the employers, obtain from the government this or that law required by the workers." (26)
In the pamphlet Lenin attacked other socialist theorists such as Victor Chernov, Peter Struve and Eduard Bernstein. Lenin made it clear that he had no confidence in the trade union movement to develop a mass movement of the proletariat. "Education - or more correctly, indoctrination - was the key. The masses must be educated into class consciousness and a proper awareness of the battle ahead." However, even with this level of political awareness, nothing could be achieved without "the leadership of an elite, scientifically informed, Marxist intelligentsia, whose role was to organise in the vanguard, in the utmost secrecy". Lenin was convinced that true political struggle had to be "orchestrated by a a group of hardened, experienced professionals; they would do the thinking for the masses." (27)
As Adam B. Ulam has pointed out: "Lenin calmly says that socialism has but little to do with the workers. Marx and Engels were middle-class intellectuals. In Russia socialist ideas have come always from upper and middle-class intellectuals... As yet this party existed only in Lenin's mind. It was to be composed of professional revolutionaries, but it was not a mere conspiracy. It was to enlist intellectuals, indeed from among them were to be sought its leaders, but it was to avoid the intellectuals' vices of continuous doctrinal dispute, indecision, humanitarian scruples, and the like... The Party is to be like an army, but an army needs a general... Unconsciously Lenin has sketched a blueprint for a dictatorship." (28)
In April 1902, Lenin and his wife moved to London and rented two rooms at 30 Holford Square. They were both paid a small wage by the Social Democratic Labour Party but had only ten shillings to live on after they had paid their rent. The couple complained that British food "turned their Russian stomachs". They also disliked the weather, with its drizzling rain and endless fogs and Lenin told George Plekhanov that "at first glance, it makes a foul impression". (29) His wife pointed out that Lenin spent most of his time in the excellent library of the British Museum. (30)
Lenin eventually got to like living in England. He especially enjoyed the countryside and his favourite haunt was Primrose Hill. From the top of the hill he could see all of London. He also enjoyed going to the theatre and in February 1903, he wrote to his mother commenting that "the winter is exceptionally good, mild, and (so far) little rain or fog... Our life goes on as usual, quietly and modestly. The other day... we went to a good concert and were very pleased with it, especially with Tchaikovsky's Pathétique sympathy." (31)
Nadezhda Krupskaya commented that Lenin spent time observing the class differences in London. "He liked the bustle of this huge commercial city. The quiet squares, the detached houses, with their separate entrances and shining windows adorned with greenery, the drives frequented only by highly polished broughams, were much in evidence, but tucked away nearby, the mean little streets, inhabited by the London working people, where lines with washing hung across the street, and pale children played in the gutter - these sites could not be seen from the bus top. In such districts we went on foot, and observing these glaring contrasts of wealth and poverty, Ilyich would mutter between clenched teeth, in English! Two nations!" (32)
At the Second Congress of the Social Democratic Labour Party held in London in 1903, there was a dispute between Lenin and Julius Martov over the future of the SDLP. Alexander Potresov later argued: "At first it seemed to us that we were a group of comrades: that not just ideas united us, but also friendship and complete mutual trust... But the quiet friendship and calm that had reigned in our ranks had disappeared quickly. The person responsible for this change was Lenin. As time went on, his despotic character became more and more evident. He could not bear any opinion different from his own... His opponent would become a personal enemy, in the struggle with whom all tactics were permissible. Vera Zasulich was the first to notice this characteristic in Lenin. At first she detected it in his attitude towards people with different ideas - the liberals, for example. But gradually it began to appear also in his attitude towards his closest comrades... At first we had been a united family, a group of people who had committed themselves to the Revolution. But we had gradually turned into an executive organ in the hands of a strong man with a dictatorial character." (33)
Alexander Schottmann was attending his first SDLP congress and compared the impact that Lenin and Martov had on him: "Martov resembled a poor Russian intellectual. His face was pale, he had sunken cheeks; his scant beard was untidy. His glasses barely remained on his nose. His suit hung on him as on a clothes hanger. Manuscripts and pamphlets protruded from all his pockets. He was stooped, one of his shoulders was higher than the other. He had a stutter. His outward appearance was far from attractive. But as soon as he began a fervent speech all these outer faults seemed to vanish, and what remained was his colossal knowledge, his sharp mind, and his fanatical devotion to the cause of the working-class."
Schottmann was also impressed with Lenin in his disagreements with George Plekhanov. "I remember very vividly that immediately after his first address I was won over to his side, so simple, clear, and convincing was his manner of speaking... When Plekhanov spoke, I enjoyed the beauty of his speech, the remarkable incisiveness of his words. But when Lenin arose in opposition, I was always on Lenin's side. Why? I cannot explain it to myself. But so it was, and not only with me, but with my comrades." (34)
Lenin argued for a small party of professional revolutionaries with a large fringe of non-party sympathizers and supporters. Martov disagreed believing it was better to have a large party of activists. Leon Trotsky commented that "the split came unexpectedly for all the members of the congress. Lenin, the most active figure in the struggle, did not foresee it, nor had he ever desired it. Both sides were greatly upset by the course of events." (35)
Although Martov won the vote 28-23 on the paragraph defining Party membership. With the support of Plekhanov, Lenin won on almost every other important issue. His greatest victory was over the issue of the size of the Iskra editorial board to three, himself, Plekhanov and Martov. This meant the elimination of Pavel Axelrod, Alexander Potresov and Vera Zasulich - all of whom were "Martov supporters in the growing ideological war between Lenin and Martov". (36)
Trotsky argued that "Lenin's behaviour seemed unpardonable to me, both horrible and outrageous. And yet, politically it was right and necessary, from the point of view of organization. The break with the older ones, who remained in the preparatory stages, was inevitable in any case. Lenin understood this before anyone else did. He made an attempt to keep Plekhanov by separating him from Zasulich and Axelrod. But this, too, was quite futile, as subsequent events soon proved." (37)
One of the main arguments was over the subject of democracy in the party. Plekhanov argued in favour of what he and Lenin called the "dictatorship of the proletariat". This meant "the suppression of all social movements which directly or indirectly threaten the interests of the proletariat". When delegates complained about this new development Plekhanov replied by saying that "every democratic principle must be appraised not separately and abstractly, but in its relation to what may be regarded as the basic principle of democracy". The success of the revolution is the supreme law and that might mean the rejection of the idea of "universal suffrage". Lenin applauded when he argued: "If the people, in a surge of revolutionary enthusiasm, should elect a good parliament, we should endeavour to make it a long parliament. If the elections miscarry, we shot try to disperse it, not in two years, but in two weeks." (38)
As Lenin and Plekhanov won most of the votes, their group became known as the Bolsheviks (after bolshinstvo, the Russian word for majority), whereas Martov's group were dubbed Mensheviks (after menshinstvo, meaning minority). Those who became Bolsheviks included Gregory Zinoviev, Anatoli Lunacharsky, Joseph Stalin, Mikhail Lashevich, Nadezhda Krupskaya, Mikhail Frunze, Alexei Rykov, Yakov Sverdlov, Lev Kamenev, Maxim Litvinov, Vladimir Antonov, Felix Dzerzhinsky, Vyacheslav Menzhinsky, Kliment Voroshilov, Vatslav Vorovsky, Yan Berzin and Gregory Ordzhonikidze.
Leon Trotsky supported Julius Martov. So also did Pavel Axelrod, Lev Deich, Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, Irakli Tsereteli, Moisei Uritsky, Vera Zasulich, Alexander Potresov, Noi Zhordania and Fedor Dan. Trotsky argued in My Life: An Attempt at an Autobiography (1930): "How did I come to be with the 'softs' at the congress? Of the Iskra editors, my closest connections were with Martov, Zasulich and Axelrod. Their influence over me was unquestionable. Before the congress there were various shades of opinion on the editorial board, but no sharp differences. I stood farthest from Plekhanov, who, after the first really trivial encounters, had taken an intense dislike to me. Lenin's attitude towards me was unexceptionally kind. But now it was he who, in my eyes, was attacking the editorial board, a body which was, in my opinion, a single unit, and which bore the exciting name of Iskra. The idea of a split within the board seemed nothing short of sacrilegious to me." (39)
Martov refused to serve on the three-man Iskra board as he could not accept the vote of non-confidence in Axelrod, Potresov and Zasulich. Plekhanov tried to restore party harmony by reconstituting the editorial board on its old basis, with the return of Axelrod, Potresov, Martov and Zasulich. (40) Lenin refused and when Plekhanov insisted that there was no other way to restore unity, Lenin handed in his resignation and stated: "I am absolutely convinced that you will come to the conclusion that it is impossible to work with the Mensheviks." (41)
Plekhanov now began to attack Lenin and predicted that in time he would be a dictator. That he would use "the Central Committee everywhere liquidates the elements with which it is dissatisfied, everywhere seats its own creatures and, filling all the committees with these creatures, without difficulty guarantees itself a fully submissive majority at the congress. The congress, constituted of the creatures of the Central Committee, amiably cries Hurrah!, approves all its successful and unsuccessful actions, and applauds all its plans and initiatives." (42)
Another vigorous attack on Lenin came from Trotsky who described him as a "despot and terrorist who sought to turn the Central Committee of the Party into a Committee of Public Safety - in order to be able to play the role of Robespierre." If Lenin ever took power "the entire international movement of the proletariat would be accused by a revolutionary tribunal of moderatism and the leonine head of Marx would be the first to fall under the guillotine." He added that when Lenin spoke of the dictatorship of the proletariat, he really meant "a dictatorship over the proletariat". (43)
Lenin came under attack from the Marxist philosopher, Rosa Luxemburg. In 1904 she published Organizational Questions of the Russian Democracy, where she argued: "Lenin’s thesis is that the party Central Committee should have the privilege of naming all the local committees of the party. It should have the right to appoint the effective organs of all local bodies from Geneva to Liege, from Tomsk to Irkutsk. It should also have the right to impose on all of them its own ready-made rules of party conduct... The Central Committee would be the only thinking element in the party. All other groupings would be its executive limbs." Luxemburg disagreed with Lenin's views on centralism and suggested that any successful revolution that used this strategy would develop into a communist dictatorship. (44)
In December, 1904, Lenin launched his own newspaper, Vperyod (Forward). Lenin wrote to Essen Knuniyants: "All the Bolsheviks are rejoicing... At last we have broken up the cursed dissension and are working harmoniously with those who want to work and not to create scandals! A good group of contributors has been got together; there are fresh forces... The Central Committee which betrayed us has lost all credit... The Bolshevik Committees are joining together; they have already chose a Bureau and now the organ will completely unite them.... Do not lose heart. We are all reviving now and will continue to revive... Above all be cheerful. Remember, you and I are not so old yet... everything is still before us." (45)
1904 was a bad year for Russian workers. Prices of essential goods rose so quickly that real wages declined by 20 per cent. When four members of the Assembly of Russian Workers of St Petersburg, were dismissed at the Putilov Iron Works in December, Father Georgi Gapon tried to intercede for the men who lost their jobs. This included talks with the factory owners and the governor-general of St Petersburg. When this failed, Gapon called for his members in the Putilov Iron Works to come out on strike. (46)
Father Georgi Gapon demanded: (i) An 8-hour day and freedom to organize trade unions. (ii) Improved working conditions, free medical aid, higher wages for women workers. (iii) Elections to be held for a constituent assembly by universal, equal and secret suffrage. (iv) Freedom of speech, press, association and religion. (v) An end to the war with Japan. By the 3rd January 1905, all 13,000 workers at Putilov were on strike, the department of police reported to the Minister of the Interior. "Soon the only occupants of the factory were two agents of the secret police". (47)
The strike spread to other factories. By the 8th January over 110,000 workers in St. Petersburg were on strike. Father Gapon wrote that: "St Petersburg seethed with excitement. All the factories, mills and workshops gradually stopped working, till at last not one chimney remained smoking in the great industrial district... Thousands of men and women gathered incessantly before the premises of the branches of the Workmen's Association." (48)
Tsar Nicholas II became concerned about these events and wrote in his diary: "Since yesterday all the factories and workshops in St. Petersburg have been on strike. Troops have been brought in from the surroundings to strengthen the garrison. The workers have conducted themselves calmly hitherto. Their number is estimated at 120,000. At the head of the workers' union some priest - socialist Gapon. Mirsky (the Minister of the Interior) came in the evening with a report of the measures taken." (49)
Gapon drew up a petition that he intended to present a message to Nicholas II: "We workers, our children, our wives and our old, helpless parents have come, Lord, to seek truth and protection from you. We are impoverished and oppressed, unbearable work is imposed on us, we are despised and not recognized as human beings. We are treated as slaves, who must bear their fate and be silent. We have suffered terrible things, but we are pressed ever deeper into the abyss of poverty, ignorance and lack of rights." (50)
The petition contained a series of political and economic demands that "would overcome the ignorance and legal oppression of the Russian people". This included demands for universal and compulsory education, freedom of the press, association and conscience, the liberation of political prisoners, separation of church and state, replacement of indirect taxation by a progressive income tax, equality before the law, the abolition of redemption payments, cheap credit and the transfer of the land to the people. (51)
Over 150,000 people signed the document and on 22nd January, 1905, Father Georgi Gapon led a large procession of workers to the Winter Palace in order to present the petition. The loyal character of the demonstration was stressed by the many church icons and portraits of the Tsar carried by the demonstrators. Alexandra Kollontai was on the march and her biographer, Cathy Porter, has described what took place: "She described the hot sun on the snow that Sunday morning, as she joined hundreds of thousands of workers, dressed in their Sunday best and accompanied by elderly relatives and children. They moved off in respectful silence towards the Winter Palace, and stood in the snow for two hours, holding their banners, icons and portraits of the Tsar, waiting for him to appear." (52)
Harold Williams, a journalist working for the Manchester Guardian, also watched the Gapon led procession taking place: "I shall never forget that Sunday in January 1905 when, from the outskirts of the city, from the factory regions beyond the Moscow Gate, from the Narva side, from up the river, the workmen came in thousands crowding into the centre to seek from the tsar redress for obscurely felt grievances; how they surged over the snow, a black thronging mass." (53) The soldiers machine-gunned them down and the Cossacks charged them. (54)
The killing of the demonstrators became known as Bloody Sunday and it has been argued that this event signalled the start of the 1905 Revolution. That night the Tsar wrote in his diary: "A painful day. There have been serious disorders in St. Petersburg because workmen wanted to come up to the Winter Palace. Troops had to open fire in several places in the city; there were many killed and wounded. God, how painful and sad." (55)
The massacre of an unarmed crowd undermined the standing of the autocracy in Russia. The United States consul in Odessa reported: "All classes condemn the authorities and more particularly the Tsar. The present ruler has lost absolutely the affection of the Russian people, and whatever the future may have in store for the dynasty, the present tsar will never again be safe in the midst of his people." (56)
The day after the massacre all the workers at the capital's electricity stations came out on strike. This was followed by general strikes taking place in Moscow, Vilno, Kovno, Riga, Revel and Kiev. Other strikes broke out all over the country. Pyotr Sviatopolk-Mirsky resigned his post as Minister of the Interior, and on 19th January, 1905, Tsar Nicholas II summoned a group of workers to the Winter Palace and instructed them to elect delegates to his new Shidlovsky Commission, which promised to deal with some of their grievances. (57)
Lenin, who had been highly suspicious of Father Gapon, admitted that the formation of Assembly of Russian Workers of St Petersburg and the occurrence of Bloody Sunday, had made an important contribution to the development of a radical political consciousness: "The revolutionary education of the proletariat made more progress in one day than it could have made in months and years of drab, humdrum, wretched existence." (58)
On 27th June, 1905, sailors on the Potemkin battleship, protested against the serving of rotten meat infested with maggots. The captain ordered that the ringleaders to be shot. The firing-squad refused to carry out the order and joined with the rest of the crew in throwing the officers overboard. The mutineers killed seven of the Potemkin's eighteen officers, including Captain Evgeny Golikov. They organized a ship's committee of 25 sailors, led by Afanasi Matushenko, to run the battleship. (59)
A delegation of the mutinous sailors arrived in Geneva with a message addressed directly to Father Gapon. He took the cause of the sailors to heart and spent all his time collecting money and purchasing supplies for them. He and their leader, Afanasi Matushenko, became inseparable. "Both were of peasant origin and products of the mass upheaval of 1905 - both were out of place among the party intelligentsia of Geneva." (60)
The Potemkin Mutiny spread to other units in the army and navy. Industrial workers all over Russia withdrew their labour and in October, 1905, the railwaymen went on strike which paralyzed the whole Russian railway network. These events became known as the 1905 Revolution. These industrial disputes developed into a general strike. Leon Trotsky later recalled: "After 10th October 1905, the strike, now with political slogans, spread from Moscow throughout the country. No such general strike had ever been seen anywhere before. In many towns there were clashes with the troops." (61)
Later that month, Trotsky and other Mensheviks established the St. Petersburg Soviet. On 26th October the first meeting of the Soviet took place in the Technological Institute. It was attended by only forty delegates as most factories in the city had time to elect the representatives. It published a statement that claimed: "In the next few days decisive events will take place in Russia, which will determine for many years the fate of the working class in Russia. We must be fully prepared to cope with these events united through our common Soviet." (62)
The Bolsheviks had little influence in the Soviets. Lenin regarded this "undisciplined organism as a dangerous rival to the Party, a spontaneous proletarian assembly which a small group of 'professional revolutionists' would not be able to control." (63) Lenin urged his supporter to become involved in the revolution. "It requires furious energy and more energy. I am appalled, truly appalled to see that more than half a year has been spent in talk about bombs - and not a single bomb has yet been made... Go to the youth. Organize at once and everywhere fighting brigades among students, and particularly among workers. Let them arm themselves immediately with whatever weapons they can obtain - a knife, a revolver, a kerosene-soaked rag for setting fires." (64)
Lenin also spent a great deal of time finding ways of raising money for the party. He secured large donations from Maxim Gorky and Savva Morozov, the Moscow millionaire textile manufacturer. Leonid Krassin, a leading Bolshevik, approached Morozov and explained Lenin's virtues as a radical political leader. He commented: "I know all about that; I agree; Lenin is a man of vision. How much does he want?" Krassin replied: "As much as possible". Morozov arranged to give 1,000 rubles a month?" (65)
This was not the main source of income. The armed hold-ups of Bolsheviks gangs provided much more. One raid on the Tiflis Post Office raised 250,000 roubles. The gang used bombs during the robbery and several people were killed. When George Plekhanov, one of the leaders of the Mensheviks, heard that the Bolsheviks were behind the robbery he declared: "The whole affair is so outrageous that it is really high time for us to break off all relations with the Bolsheviks." Lenin justified the action with the words: "In politics there is only one principle and one truth: what profits my opponent hurts me and vice versa." (66)
Lenin, and his two loyal assistants, Gregory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev, used this money to print revolutionary literature and newspapers such as Zvezda. Some money was used to gain control some of the unions that were emerging in Russia's main industrial cities. One of Lenin's agents, Roman Malinovsky, was elected as general secretary of the St Petersburg Metalworkers' Union and became one of his most trusted Bolshevik agents in Russia. (67)
In 1911, Lenin, Gregory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, David Riazanov, Anatoli Lunacharsky and other Bolsheviks moved to France and settled in a small village just outside of Paris. He was also joined by Yuri Piatakov and Evgenia Bosh. However, under the influence of Bosh, Piatakov fell out with Lenin on the "national question". As Kathy Fairfax, the author of Comrades in Arms: Bolshevik Women in the Russian Revolution (1999) has pointed out: "With her Ukrainian experience Bosh felt that nationalism of proletarian internationalism while Lenin considered that the nationalism of the oppressed had a revolutionary potential, especially in the tsarist empire." (68)
They were joined by Inessa Armand, the former wife of a wealthy businessman, who helped Lenin set up a Bolshevik Party School where agents were trained before returning to Russia. Yekaterina Kuskova described her as "beautiful, elegant - not comparable in any way with the dowdy Krupskaya... when the Bolshevik school for workers opened near Paris, Lenin made Armand give lectures to the workers - he always attended them." According to Alexandra Kollontai, Krupskaya "knew Lenin was very attracted to Inessa... and was well aware of what was going on." (69)
Helen Rappaport, the author of Conspirator: Lenin in Exile (2009) has pointed out: "If her husband's sexual needs could only be fulfilled elsewhere then the consolation to Nadya was that it was at least with a fellow Bolshevik and a woman she liked... It was rare indeed for Bolshevik women, aside perhaps from Nadya, or Elena Stasova in St Petersburg, to be given a leading role in any major party matters and, when they were, their contribution was largely mundane. Lenin's unequivocal favouritism of Inessa was reinforced when he asked her to take over the running of the Central Committee's Foreign Bureau that autumn. With her proven linguistic skills, Inessa would play a crucial role in liasing with emigrant groups, eventually across thirty-seven European cities, a function previously fulfilled in the main by Nadya." (70)
Bertram D. Wolfe has argued: "She (Inessa Armand) had a wider culture than any other woman in Lenin's circle, a deep love of music, above all of Beethoven, who became Lenin's favourite too. She played the piano like a virtuoso, was fluent in five languages, was enormously serious about Bolshevism and work among women, and possessed personal charm and an intense love of life to which almost all who wrote of her testify." Wolfe claims that Lenin's love of Armand caused problems with other revolutionaries. Angelica Balabanoff told Wolfe: "I did not warm to Inessa. She was pedantic, a one hundred per cent Bolshevik in the way she dressed (always in the same severe style), in the way she thought, and spoke. She spoke a number of languages fluently, and in all of them repeated Lenin verbatim." (71)
In January, 1912, Lenin organised a Russian Social Democratic Labour Party conference In Prague. Lenin's major rivals, Jules Martov, George Plekhanov, Pavel Axelrod and Leon Trotsky, were all invited but they all declined to take part. Some of the delegates protested that the meeting was unrepresentational and Gregory Ordzhonikidze suggested that the RSDLP should be under the control of people living in Russia instead of by "out of touch émigrés". Despite this opposition Lenin was able to get all his motions carried unanimously. The Prague meeting had, in Lenin's own words "constituted itself as the supreme and legitimate assembly of the entire RSDLP". (72)
At the Prague conference in 1912 Lenin suggested that Roman Malinovsky should join the Bolshevik Central Committee. Nickolai Bukharin objected to the proposal arguing that he was convinced that he was an Okhrana agent. He pointed out that in April 1910, Malinovsky and a group of his comrades were arrested. He was soon released but the rest remained in prison. Soon afterwards there was a wave of arrests among the Bolsheviks. This included Bukharin, who while in prison met several men who believed Malinovsky of being responsible for their arrest. (73)
Bukharin's objections were rejected by Lenin and advocated that Malinovsky should also be a Bolshevik candidate for the Duma. After being elected he became known as an eloquent and forceful orator. Before making his speeches he sent copies to Lenin and S. P. Beletsky, the director of Okhrana. It was later revealed that he was Okhrana's best-paid agent, earning 8,000 rubles a year, 1,000 more than the Director of the Imperial Police. (74)
After being elected in October, 1912, Roman Malinovsky became the leader of the group of six Bolshevik deputies. Lenin argued: "For the first time among ours in the Duma there is an outstanding worker-leader. He will read the Declaration (the political declaration of the Social Democratic fraction on the address of the Prime Minister). This time it's not another Alexinsky. And the results - perhaps not immediately - will be great." (75)
Malinovsky was now in a position to spy on Lenin. This included supplying Okhrana with copies of his letters. In a letter dated 18th December, 1912, S. E. Vissarionov, the Assistant Director of Okhrana, wrote to Nikolay Maklakov, the Minister of the Interior: "The situation of the Fraction is now such that it may be possible for the six Bolsheviks to be induced to act in such a way as to split the Fraction into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Lenin supports this. See his letter (supplied by Malinovsky)". (76)
When Elena Troyanovsky was arrested in 1913 her husband, Aleksandr A. Troyanovsky, wrote a letter claiming that if she was not released he would expose the double agent in the leadership of the Bolsheviks. S. P. Beletsky later testified that when he showed this letter to Malinovsky he "became hysterical" and demanded that she was released. In order that he remained as a spy Beletsky agreed to do this. Troyanovsky took this information to Nickolai Bukharin and when Lenin was told about this he called their actions as being worse than treason. Troyanovsky responded by leaving the Bolsheviks. Instead of carrying out an investigation into Malinovsky, Lenin launched an attack on Julius Martov and Fedor Dan, who he accused of acting like "gossipy old women". (77)
Bertram D. Wolfe argued that in 1913: "He (Malinovsky) was entrusted with setting up a secret printing plant inside Russia, which naturally did not remain secret for long. Together with Yakovlev he helped start a Bolshevik paper in Moscow. It, too, ended promptly with the arrest of the editor. Inside Russia, the popular Duma Deputy traveled to all centers. Arrests took place sufficiently later to avert suspicion from him... The police raised his wage from five hundred to six hundred, and then to seven hundred rubles a month." (78)
Nadezhda Krupskaya later explained: "Vladimir Ilyich thought it utterly impossible for Malinovsky to have been an agent provocateur. These rumors came from Menshevik circles... The commission investigated all the rumors but could not obtain any definite proof of the charge. Only once did a doubt flash across his mind. I remember one day in Poronino, we were returning from the Zinoviews and talking about these rumours. All of sudden Ilyich stopped on the little bridge we were crossing and said: 'It may be true!' - and his face expressed anxiety. 'What are you talking about, it's nonsence'. Ilyich calmed down and began to abuse the Mensheviks, saying that they were unscrupulous as to the means they employed in the struggle against the Bolsheviks." (79)
In 1913 Lenin and Nadezhda Krupskaya moved to Galicia in Austria. He organized a conference of Bolshevik leaders in Zakopane in August. It was later discovered that of the twenty-two men who attended, five, including Roman Malinovsky, were Okhrana agents. In the autumn of 1913, Inessa Armand joined Lenin in Galicia. According to Angelica Balabanoff, Inessa and Lenin were now lovers: "Lenin loved Inessa. There was nothing immoral in it, since Lenin told Krupskaya everything. He deeply loved music, and this Krupskaya could not give him. Inessa played beautifully his beloved Beethoven and other pieces... He had had a child by Inessa." This story is also supported by the testimony of Alexandra Kollontai. (80)
The rumours about Malinovsky continued and in June 1914 he wrote an article condemning Julius Martov and Fedor Dan, for sprending these untrue stories. "We do not believe one single word of Dan and Martov.... We don't trust Martov and Dan. We do not regard them as honest citizens. We will deal with them only as common criminals - only so, and not otherwise... If a man says, make political concessions to me, recognize me as an equal comrade of the Marxist community or I will set up a howl about rumors of the provocateur activity of Malinovsky, that is political blackmail. Against blackmail we are always and unconditionally for the bourgeois legality of the bourgeois court... Either you make a public accusation signed with your signature so that the bourgeois court can expose and punish you (there are no other means of fighting blackmail), or you remain as people branded... as slanderers by the workers." (81)
In February 1914, Tsar Nicholas II accepted the advice of his foreign minister, Sergi Sazonov, and committed Russia to supporting the Triple Entente. Sazonov was of the opinion that in the event of a war, Russia's membership of the Triple Entente would enable it to make territorial gains from neighbouring countries. Sazonov sent a telegram to the Russian ambassador in London asking him to make clear to the British government that the Tsar was committed to a war with Germany. "The peace of the world will only be secure on the day when the Triple Entente, whose real existence is not better authenticated than the existence of the sea serpent, shall transform itself into a defensive alliance without secret clauses and publicly announced in all the world press. On that day the danger of a German hegemony will be finally removed, and each one of us will be able to devote himself quietly to his own affairs." (82)
In the international crisis that followed the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the Tsar made it clear that he was willing to go to war over this issue, Rasputin was an outspoken critic of this policy and joined forces with two senior figures, Sergei Witte and Pyotr Durnovo, to prevent the war. Durnovo told the Tsar that a war with Germany would be "mutually dangerous" to both countries, no matter who won. Witte added that "there must inevitably break out in the conquered country a social revolution, which by the very nature of things, will spread to the country of the victor." (83)
Witte realised that because of its economic situation, Russia would lose a war with any of its rivals. Bernard Pares met Witte and Grigori Rasputin several times in the years leading up to the First World War: "Count Witte never swerved from his conviction, firstly, that Russia must avoid the war at all costs, and secondly, that she must work for economic friendship with France and Germany to counteract the preponderance of England. Rasputin was opposed to the war for reasons as good as Witte's. He was for peace between all nations and between all religions." (84)
In August, 1914, Russian revolutionaries had a meeting in Switzerland to discuss the war. Leon Trotsky attempted to explain the level of nationalism that emerged during the first few days of the war. "The mobilization and declaration of war have veritably swept off the face of the earth all the national and social contradictions in the country". (85) Trotsky argued the workers believed that if their country conquered new colonies and markets they would enjoy higher living standards. In time of war, therefore, the workers still identified themselves with the cause of their exploiters. Julius Martov agreed with Trotsky that "their internationalism was still too weak to overcome the new flush of national patriotism which the war had produced." (86)
George Plekhanov defended the socialists of the Allied countries for their patriotism as they had to give their full support to their governments against German militarism. Nickolai Bukharin described how Lenin reacted to the speech. "Never before or after did I see such a deathly pallor on Ilyich's face. Only his eyes were burning brightly, when, in a dry, guttural voice, he started to lash his opponent sharply and forcefully." (87)
Lenin criticised the views of Trotsky, Plekhanov and Martov as being defeatest. He was appalled by the decision of most socialists in Europe to support the war effort. He was especially angry with the German Social Democratic Party (SDP) as Karl Liebknecht was the only member of the Reichstag who voted against Germany's participation in the war. He published several pamphlets on the war including The Tasks of Revolutionary Social Democracy in the European War and The War and Russian Social Democracy that were smuggled into Russia. He argued for the "tsarist monarchy to be defeated and the imperialist war turned into a European-wide civil war." (88)
Lenin argued: "The European and world war has the clearly defined character of a bourgeois, imperialist and dynastic war. A struggle for markets and for freedom to loot foreign countries, a striving to suppress the revolutionary movement of the proletariat and democracy in the individual countries, a desire to deceive, disunite, and slaughter the proletarians of all countries by setting the wage slaves of one nation against those of another so as to benefit the bourgeoisie - these are the only real content and significance of the war.The conduct of the leaders of the German Social-Democratic Party, the strongest and the most influential in the Second International (1889-1914), a party which has voted for war credits and repeated the bourgeois-chauvinist phrases of the Prussian Junkers and the bourgeoisie, is sheer betrayal of socialism." (89)
Lenin argued that "the slogan of peace is wrong - the slogan must be, turn the imperialist war into civil war." Lenin believed that a civil war in Russia would bring down the old order and enable the Bolsheviks to gain power. This brought him into conflict with Rosa Luxemburg. In 1915 Luxemburg published the highly influential pamphlet, The Crisis in the German Social Democracy. Luxemburg rejected the view of Lenin that the war would bring democracy to Russia: "It is true that socialism gives to every people the right of independence and the freedom of independent control of its own destinies. But it is a veritable perversion of socialism to regard present-day capitalist society as the expression of this self-determination of nations. Where is there a nation in which the people have had the right to determine the form and conditions of their national, political and social existence?"
In the pamphlet Rosa Luxemburg quoted Friedrich Engels as saying: “Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism.” She added: "A look around us at this moment shows what the regression of bourgeois society into barbarism means. This world war is a regression into barbarism.... The world war today is demonstrably not only murder on a grand scale; it is also suicide of the working classes of Europe. The soldiers of socialism, the proletarians of England, France, Germany, Russia, and Belgium have for months been killing one another at the behest of capital. They are driving the cold steel of murder into each other’s hearts. Locked in the embrace of death, they tumble into a common grave."
Luxemburg also pointed out that Germany was also fighting democratic states such as Britain and France: "Germany certainly has not the right to speak of a war of defence, but France and England have little more justification. They too are protecting, not their national, but their world political existence, their old imperialistic possessions, from the attacks of the German upstart." To Luxemburg, this was an imperialist war and could not be turned into a war of political liberation. (90)
According to Adam B. Ulam, the author of The Bolsheviks (1998): "Lenin in general liked Rosa for her fine revolutionary fervour, and for the fire with which she castigated the opportunists and Revisionists of the German Social Democracy." However, Lenin disliked it when she disagreed with him. The two had clashed over the issue of Polish independence. "For revolutionary propaganda he always extolled the slogan of national self-determination... but for the revolutionary organization Lenin had always demanded unity and centralization". When she questioned his views, as she did over the war, she became "a senseless fanatic". (91)
Lenin now devoted his energies to campaign to turn the war into a revolution. This included the publication of the pamphlet, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. Lenin broke with the Marxist conception of history which saw every society passing through feudalism, then capitalism, before socialism could be established and insisted that conditions existed to make a successful revolution possible. Along with his close collaborators, Gregory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev, Lenin arranged for the distribution of these pamphlets that urged Allied troops to turn their rifles against their officers and start a socialist revolution. (92)
By December, 1914, the Russian Army had 6,553,000 men. However, they only had 4,652,000 rifles. It has been pointed out: "Untrained troops were ordered into battle without adequate arms or ammunition. And because the Russian Army had about one surgeon for every 10,000 men, many wounded of its soldiers died from wounds that would have been treated on the Western Front. With medical staff spread out across a 500 mile front, the likelihood of any Russian soldier receiving any medical treatment was close to zero". (93)
Tsar Nicholas II decided to replace Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich Romanov as supreme commander of the Russian Army fighting on the Eastern Front. He was disturbed when he received the following information from General Alexei Brusilov: "In recent battles a third of the men had no rifles. These poor devils had to wait patiently until their comrades fell before their eyes and they could pick up weapons. The army is drowning in its own blood." (94)
As the Tsar spent most of his time at GHQ, Alexandra Fedorovna now took responsibility for domestic policy. Rasputin served as her adviser and over the next few months she dismissed ministers and their deputies in rapid succession. In letters to her husband she called his ministers as "fools and idiots". According to David Shub "the real ruler of Russia was the Empress Alexandra". (95)
On 7th July, 1915, the Tsar wrote to his wife and complained about the problems he faced fighting the war: "Again that cursed question of shortage of artillery and rifle ammunition - it stands in the way of an energetic advance. If we should have three days of serious fighting we might run out of ammunition altogether. Without new rifles it is impossible to fill up the gaps.... If we had a rest from fighting for about a month our condition would greatly improve. It is understood, of course, that what I say is strictly for you only. Please do not say a word to anyone." (96)
In 1916 two million Russian soldiers were killed or seriously wounded and a third of a million were taken prisoner. Millions of peasants were conscripted into the Tsar's armies but supplies of rifles and ammunition remained inadequate. It is estimated that one third of Russia's able-bodied men were serving in the army. The peasants were therefore unable to work on the farms producing the usual amount of food. By November, 1916, food prices were four times as high as before the war. As a result strikes for higher wages became common in Russia's cities. (97)
As Nicholas II was supreme command of the Russian Army he was linked to the country's military failures and there was a strong decline in his support in Russia. George Buchanan, the British Ambassador in Russia, went to see the Tsar: "I went on to say that there was now a barrier between him and his people, and that if Russia was still united as a nation it was in opposing his present policy. The people, who have rallied so splendidly round their Sovereign on the outbreak of war, had seen how hundreds of thousands of lives had been sacrificed on account of the lack of rifles and munitions; how, owing to the incompetence of the administration there had been a severe food crisis."
Buchanan then went on to talk about Tsarina Alexandra Fedorovna: "I next called His Majesty's attention to the attempts being made by the Germans, not only to create dissension between the Allies, but to estrange him from his people. Their agents were everywhere at work. They were pulling the strings, and were using as their unconscious tools those who were in the habit of advising His Majesty as to the choice of his Ministers. They indirectly influenced the Empress through those in her entourage, with the result that, instead of being loved, as she ought to be, Her Majesty was discredited and accused of working in German interests." (98)
In January 1917, General Aleksandr Krymov returned from the Eastern Front and sought a meeting with Michael Rodzianko, the President of the Duma. Krymov told Rodzianko that the officers and men no longer had faith in Nicholas II and the army was willing to support the Duma if it took control of the government of Russia. "A revolution is imminent and we at the front feel it to be so. If you decide on such an extreme step (the overthrow of the Tsar), we will support you. Clearly there is no other way." Rodzianko was unwilling to take action but he did telegraph the Tsar warning that Russia was approaching breaking point. He also criticised the impact that his wife was having on the situation and told him that "you must find a way to remove the Empress from politics". (99)
The Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich shared the views of Rodzianko and sent a letter to the Tsar: "The unrest grows; even the monarchist principle is beginning to totter; and those who defend the idea that Russia cannot exist without a Tsar lose the ground under their feet, since the facts of disorganization and lawlessness are manifest. A situation like this cannot last long. I repeat once more - it is impossible to rule the country without paying attention to the voice of the people, without meeting their needs, without a willingness to admit that the people themselves understand their own needs." (100)
The First World War was having a disastrous impact on the Russian economy. Food was in short supply and this led to rising prices. By January 1917 the price of commodities in Petrograd had increased six-fold. In an attempt to increase their wages, industrial workers went on strike and in Petrograd people took to the street demanding food. On 11th February, 1917, a large crowd marched through the streets of Petrograd breaking shop windows and shouting anti-war slogans.
Petrograd was a city of 2,700,000 swollen with an influx of of over 393,000 wartime workers. According to Harrison E. Salisbury, in the last ten days of January, the city had received 21 carloads of grain and flour per day instead of the 120 wagons needed to feed the city. Okhrana, the secret police, warned that "with every day the food question becomes more acute and it brings down cursing of the most unbridled kind against anyone who has any connection with food supplies." (101)
Harold Williams, a journalist working for the Daily Chronicle reported details of serious food shortages: "All attention here is concentrated on the food question, which for the moment has become unintelligible. Long queues before the bakers' shops have long been a normal feature of life in the city. Grey bread is now sold instead of white, and cakes are not baked. Crowds wander about the streets, mostly women and boys, with a sprinkling of workmen. Here and there windows are broken and a few bakers' shops looted." (102)
It was reported that in one demonstration in the streets by the Nevsky Prospect, the women called out to the soldiers, "Comrades, take away your bayonets, join us!". The soldiers hesitated: "They threw swift glances at their own comrades. The next moment one bayonet is slowly raised, is slowly lifted above the shoulders of the approaching demonstrators. There is thunderous applause. The triumphant crowd greeted their brothers clothed in the grey cloaks of the soldiery. The soldiers mixed freely with the demonstrators." On 27th February, 1917, the Volynsky Regiment mutinied and after killing their commanding officer "made common cause with the demonstrators". (103)
The President of the Duma, Michael Rodzianko, became very concerned about the situation in the city and sent a telegram to the Tsar: "The situation is serious. There is anarchy in the capital. The Government is paralysed. Transport, food, and fuel supply are completely disorganised. Universal discontent is increasing. Disorderly firing is going on in the streets. Some troops are firing at each other. It is urgently necessary to entrust a man enjoying the confidence of the country with the formation of a new Government. Delay is impossible. Any tardiness is fatal. I pray God that at this hour the responsibility may not fall upon the Sovereign." (104)
On Friday 8th March, 1917, there was a massive demonstration against the Tsar. It was estimated that over 200,000 took part in the march. Arthur Ransome walked along with the crowd that were hemmed in by mounted Cossacks armed with whips and sabres. But no violent suppression was attempted. Ransome was struck, chiefly, by the good humour of these rioters, made up not simply of workers, but of men and women from every class. Ransome wrote: "Women and girls, mostly well-dressed, were enjoying the excitement. It was like a bank holiday, with thunder in the air." There were further demonstrations on Saturday and on Sunday soldiers opened fire on the demonstrators. According to Ransome: "Police agents opened fire on the soldiers, and shooting became general, though I believe the soldiers mostly used blank cartridges." (105)
Morgan Philips Price, a journalist working in Petrograd, with strong left-wing opinions, wrote to his aunt, Anna Maria Philips, claiming that the country was on the verge of revolution: "Most exciting times. I knew this was coming sooner or later but did not think it would come so quickly... Whole country is wild with joy, waving red flags and singing Marseillaise. It has surpassed my wildest dreams and I can hardly believe it is true. After two-and-half years of mental suffering and darkness I at last begin to see light. Long live Great Russia who has shown the world the road to freedom. May Germany and England follow in her steps." (106)
On 10th March, 1917, the Tsar had decreed the dissolution of the Duma. The High Command of the Russian Army now feared a violent revolution and on 12th March suggested that Nicholas II should abdicate in favour of a more popular member of the royal family. Attempts were now made to persuade Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich to accept the throne. He refused and the Tsar recorded in his diary that the situation in "Petrograd is such that now the Ministers of the Duma would be helpless to do anything against the struggles the Social Democratic Party and members of the Workers Committee. My abdication is necessary... The judgement is that in the name of saving Russia and supporting the Army at the front in calmness it is necessary to decide on this step. I agreed." (107)
Prince George Lvov, was appointed the new head of the Provisional Government. Members of the Cabinet included Pavel Milyukov (leader of the Cadet Party), was Foreign Minister, Alexander Guchkov, Minister of War, Alexander Kerensky, Minister of Justice, Mikhail Tereshchenko, a beet-sugar magnate from the Ukraine, became Finance Minister, Alexander Konovalov, a munitions maker, Minister of Trade and Industry, and Peter Struve, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Prince Lvov allowed all political prisoners to return to their homes. Joseph Stalin arrived at Nicholas Station in St. Petersburg with Lev Kamenev and Yakov Sverdlov on 25th March, 1917. The three men had been in exile in Siberia. Stalin's biographer, Robert Service, has commented: "He was pinched-looking after the long train trip and had visibly aged over the four years in exile. Having gone away a young revolutionary, he was coming back a middle-aged political veteran." (108)
The exiles discussed what to do next. The Bolshevik organizations in Petrograd were controlled by a group of young men including Vyacheslav Molotov and Alexander Shlyapnikov who had recently made arrangements for the publication of Pravda, the official Bolshevik newspaper. The young comrades were less than delighted to see these influential new arrivals. Molotov later recalled: "In 1917 Stalin and Kamenev cleverly shoved me off the Pravda editorial team. Without unnecessary fuss, quite delicately." (109)
The Petrograd Soviet recognized the authority of the Provisional Government in return for its willingness to carry out eight measures. This included the full and immediate amnesty for all political prisoners and exiles; freedom of speech, press, assembly, and strikes; the abolition of all class, group and religious restrictions; the election of a Constituent Assembly by universal secret ballot; the substitution of the police by a national militia; democratic elections of officials for municipalities and townships and the retention of the military units that had taken place in the revolution that had overthrown Nicholas II. Soldiers dominated the Soviet. The workers had only one delegate for every thousand, whereas every company of soldiers might have one or even two delegates. Voting during this period showed that only about forty out of a total of 1,500, were Bolsheviks. Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries were in the majority in the Soviet.
The Provisional Government accepted most of these demands and introduced the eight-hour day, announced a political amnesty, abolished capital punishment and the exile of political prisoners, instituted trial by jury for all offences, put an end to discrimination based on religious, class or national criteria, created an independent judiciary, separated church and state, and committed itself to full liberty of conscience, the press, worship and association. It also drew up plans for the election of a Constituent Assembly based on adult universal suffrage and announced this would take place in the autumn of 1917. It appeared to be the most progressive government in history. (110)
Lenin was living in Zurich and he did not hear this news until the 15th March. A group of about twenty Russian exiles arrived at Lenin's home to discuss this important event. Lenin's wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, explained: "From the moment the news of the February revolution came, Ilyich burned with eagerness to go to Russia. England and France would not for the world have allowed the Bolsheviks to pass through to Russia... As there was no legal way it was necessary to travel illegally. But how?" (110a)
Aware that the British and French would never allow him a transit visa to Russia through Allied territory in Europe. It was suggested that he should try to return via England under a false passport, but it was decided that this was far too risky and if he was arrested he would be probably interned for the duration of the war. On 19th March 1917 a meeting of socialists was held to discuss the issue. The German socialist Willi Münzenberg was there and later reported that Lenin paced up and down the room declaring, "we must go at all costs". Julius Martov suggested that the best chance would be to send word to the Petrograd Soviet, asking them to offer the Germans repatriation of German prisoners in exchange for the group's safe conduct home via Germany. (110b)
The Swiss socialist, Robert Grimm, who Lenin had described as a "detestable centrist", offered to negotiate with the German government in order to obtain a safe passage to Russia. He pointed out that Germany had been spending a great deal of money in producing revolutionary anti-war propaganda in Russia since 1915, in the hope of engineering a withdrawal from the war. This would enable German troops on the Eastern Front to be diverted to the western campaign against Britain and France. Grimm began talks with Count Gisbert von Romberg, the German ambassador in Berne. (110c)
Alexander Parvus also arrived in Switzerland. The former German Social Democrat who had originally helped to fund Iskra, the Russian revolutionary newspaper, had now gone over to the German government, operating as an arms contractor and recruiter for the war effort. he had been heavily involved in the German propaganda drive among tsarist troops to destabilize Nicholas II. Parvus made contact with Richard von Kühlmann, a minister at the German Foreign Office. (110d)
Von Kühlmann sent a message to Army Headquarters explaining the strategy of the German Foreign Office: "The disruption of the Entente and the subsequent creation of political combinations agreeable to us constitute the most important war aim of our diplomacy. Russia appeared to be the weakest link in the enemy chain, the task therefore was gradually to loosen it, and, when possible, to remove it. This was the purpose of the subversive activity we caused to be carried out in Russia behind the front - in the first place promotion of separatist tendencies and support of the Bolsheviks had received a steady flow of funds through various channels and under different labels that they were in a position to be able to build up their main organ, Pravda, to conduct energetic propaganda and appreciably to extend the originally narrow basis of their party." (110e)
Parvus made contact with General Erich Ludendorff who later admitted his involvement in his autobiography, My War Memories, 1914-1918 (1920) that he told senior officials: "Our government, in sending Lenin to Russia, took upon itself a tremendous responsibility. From a military point of view his journey was justified, for it was imperative that Russia should fall." (110f)
General Max Hoffmann, chief of the German General Staff on the Eastern Front commented: "We naturally tried, by means of propaganda, to increase the disintegration that the Russian Revolution had introduced into the Army. Some man at home who had connections with the Russian revolutionaries exiled in Switzerland came upon the idea of employing some of them in order to hasten the undermining and poisoning of the morale of the Russian Army."
Hoffmann claims that Reichstag deputy Mathias Erzberger became involved in the negotiations. "And thus it came about that Lenin was conveyed through Germany to Petrograd in the manner that afterwards transpired. In the same way as I send shells into the enemy trenches, as I discharge poison gas at him, I, as an enemy, have the right to employ the expedient of propaganda against his garrisons." (110g)
Paul Levi, a close associate of Rosa Luxemburg, and a member of the German anti-war Spartacus League, handled the Berne-Zurich end of negotiations, with Karl Radek. Levi was contacted by the German Ambassador in Switzerland and asked: "How can I get in touch with Lenin? I expect final instructions any moment regarding his transportation". Lenin now negotiated the deal with the ambassador that would allow him to travel through Germany. (110h)
In his farewell message to the Swiss workers Lenin explained his analysis of the situation in Russia. "It has fallen to the lot of the Russian proletariat to begin the series of revolutions whose objective necessity was created by the imperialist world war. We know well that the Russian proletariat is less organized and intellectually less prepared for the task than the working class of other countries... Russia is an agricultural country, one of the most backward of Europe. Socialism cannot be established in Russia immediately. But the peasant character of the development of a democratic-capitalist revolution in Russia and make that a prologue to the world-wide Socialist revolution." (110i)
Lenin felt he needed the support of other socialists living in Switzerland for his journey through Germany. He sent a telegram to two French anti-war figures living in Switzerland, Romain Rolland and Henri Guilbeaux, asking them to appear in the railroad station on the day of his departure. Rolland refused and sent a message to Guilbeaux: "If you have any influence on Lenin and his friends, dissuade them from going through Germany. They will cause great damage to the pacifist movement and to themselves, for it will then be said that Zimmerwald is a German child." He then went on to quote Anatoli Lunacharsky who had described Lenin as "a dangerous and cynical adventurer". (110j)
Lenin insisted that his party of thirty-two should include some twenty non-Bolsheviks, in order to offset the unfavourable impression produced by his trip under German auspices. The people who travelled with him included Gregory Zinoviev, Karl Radek, Inessa Armand, Nadezhda Krupskaya, Georgi Safarov, Zinaida Lilina and Moisey Kharitonov. Lenin's supporters milled around the waiting train carrying revolutionary banners and singing the "Internationale". There was a group of anti-German socialists, shouted, "Spies! German spies! Look how happy they are - going home at the Kaiser's expense!" Anatoli Lunacharsky said that Lenin looked "composed and happy". (110k)
Willi Münzenberg was there to see Lenin off. He later recalled that as the doors closed Lenin leaned from the carriage window, shook his hand and said, "Either we'll be swinging from the gallows in three months or we shall be in power." (110l) At the German frontier at Gottmadingen station, they were escorted by German soldiers to their own specially commandeered military "sealed train". A locomotive pulled "a green-painted coach comprised of three second-class compartments (mainly for the couples and children) and five third-class compartments, where the single men and women would have to endure the hard wooden seats. The two German officers escorting them took a compartment at the rear." (110m)
Once the three of the carriage's four doors at the Russian end were closed shut, Fritz Platten, a Swiss socialist marked them with chalk in German as "sealed". The train was given a high traffic priority by the Germans. Crown Prince Wilhelm, the eldest son of Kaiser Wilhelm II, was delayed for two hours to let Lenin's train to pass. There was a several hours' layover in Berlin during which some members of the German Social Democratic Party boarded the train but were not allowed to communicate with Lenin. (110n)
After Germany they travelled through Sweden and Finland. On 2nd April Lenin's family received a telegram: "We arrive Monday at eleven at night. Tell Pravda." Lenin feared being arrested at the Russian border. However, Prince George Lvov, pledge to allow all political prisoners the freedom to return to their homes was kept. At 11.10 at night on 3rd April the train arrived at Finland Station. He was greeted by sailors from the Kronstadt naval base, the Petrograd workers' militia and the Red Guards. (110o)
As he left the railway station Lenin was lifted on to one of the armoured cars specially provided for the occasions. The atmosphere was electric and enthusiastic. Feodosiya Drabkina, who had been an active revolutionary for many years, was in the crowd and later remarked: "Just think, in the course of only a few days Russia had made the transition from the most brutal and cruel arbitrary rule to the freest country in the world." (111)
In his speech he announced what became known as the April Theses. Lenin attacked Bolsheviks for supporting the Provisional Government. Instead, he argued, revolutionaries should be telling the people of Russia that they should take over the control of the country. In his speech, Lenin urged the peasants to take the land from the rich landlords and the industrial workers to seize the factories. Lenin accused those Bolsheviks who were still supporting the government of Prince Georgi Lvov of betraying socialism and suggested that they should leave the party. Lenin ended his speech by telling the assembled crowd that they must "fight for the social revolution, fight to the end, till the complete victory of the proletariat". (112)
Some of the revolutionaries in the crowd rejected Lenin's ideas. Alexander Bogdanov called out that his speech was the "delusion of a lunatic." Joseph Goldenberg, a former of the Bolshevik Central Committee, denounced the views expressed by Lenin: "Everything we have just heard is a complete repudiation of the entire Social Democratic doctrine, of the whole theory of scientific Marxism. We have just heard a clear and unequivocal declaration for anarchism. Its herald, the heir of Bakunin, is Lenin. Lenin the Marxist, Lenin the leader of our fighting Social Democratic Party, is no more. A new Lenin is born, Lenin the anarchist." (113)
The journalist, Harold Williams rejected the idea that Lenin could play an important role in affairs: "Lenin, leader of the extreme faction of the Social Democrats, arrived here on Monday night by way of Germany. His action in accepting from the German government a passage from Switzerland through Germany arouses intense indignation here. He has come back breathing fire, and demanding the immediate and unconditional conclusions of peace, civil war against the army and government, and vengeance on Kerensky and Chkheidze, whom he describes as traitors to the cause of International Socialism. At the meeting of Social Democrats yesterday his wild rant was received in dead silence, and he was vigorously attacked, not only by the more moderate Social Democrats, but by members of his own faction. Lenin was left absolutely without supporters. The sharp repulse given to this firebrand was a healthy sign of the growth of practical sense of the Socialist wing, and the generally moderate and sensible tone of the conference of provincial workers' and soldiers' deputies was another hopeful indication of the passing of the revolutionary fever." (114)
Albert Rhys Williams, an American visitor to Russia, disagreed with this viewpoint. Williams was convinced that the Bolsheviks would become the new rulers: "The Bolsheviks understood the people. They were strong among the more literate strata, like the sailors, and comprised largely the artisans and labourers of the cities. Sprung directly from the people's lions they spoke the people's language, shared their sorrows and thought their thoughts. They were the people. So they were trusted." (115)
Joseph Stalin was in a difficult position. As one of the editors of Pravda, he was aware that he was being held partly responsible for what Lenin had described as "betraying socialism". Stalin had two main options open to him: he could oppose Lenin and challenge him for the leadership of the party, or he could change his mind about supporting the Provisional Government and remain loyal to Lenin. After ten days of silence, Stalin made his move. In the newspaper he wrote an article dismissing the idea of working with the Provisional Government. He condemned Alexander Kerensky and Victor Chernov as counter-revolutionaries, and urged the peasants to takeover the land for themselves. (116)
Soon after taking power Pavel Milyukov, the foreign minister, wrote to all Allied ambassadors describing the situation since the removal of the Tsar: "Free Russia does not aim at the domination of other nations, or at occupying by force foreign territories. Its aim is not to subjugate or humiliate anyone. In referring to the "penalties and guarantees" essential to a durable peace the Provisional Government had in view reduction of armaments, the establishment of international tribunals, etc." He attempted to maintain the Russian war effort but he was severely undermined by the formation of soldiers' committee that demanded "peace without annexations or indemnities". (117)
As Robert V. Daniels, the author of Red October: The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 (1967) pointed out: "On the 20th April, Milyukov's note was made public, to the accompaniment of intense popular indignation. One of the Petrograd regiments, stirred up by the speeches of a mathematician who happened to be serving in the ranks, marched to the Marinsky Palace (the seat of the government at the time) to demand Milyukov's resignation." With the encouragement of the Bolsheviks, the crowds marched under the banner, "Down with the Provisional Government". (118)
Ariadna Tyrkova, a member of the Cadets, argued: "A man of rare erudition and of an enormous power for work, Milyukov had numerous adherents and friends, but also not a few enemies. He was considered by many as a doctrinaire on account of the stubbornness of his political views, while his endeavours to effect a compromise for the sake of rallying larger circles to the opposition were blamed as opportunism. As a matter of fact almost identical accusations were showered upon him both from Right and Left. This may partly be explained by the fact that it is easier for Milyukov to grasp an idea than to deal with men, as he is not a good judge of either their psychology or their character." (119)
On 5th May, Pavel Milyukov and Alexander Guchkov, the two most conservative members of the Provisional Government, were forced to resign. Mikhail Tereshchenko replaced Milyukov as Foreign Minister and Alexander Kerensky moved from Justice to the War Ministry, while five Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries from the Petrograd Soviet stepped into the cabinet to share the problems of the administration. This included Victor Chernov (Agriculture) and Irakli Tsereteli (Posts and Telegraphs). (120)
Kerensky appointed General Alexei Brusilov as the Commander in Chief of the Russian Army. He toured the Eastern Front where he made a series of emotional speeches where he appealed to the troops to continue fighting. On 18th June, Kerensky announced a new war offensive. According to David Shub: "The main purpose of the drive was to force the Germans to return to the Russian front the divisions which they had diverted to France in preparation for an all-out offensive against the Western Allies. At the same time, the Provisional Government hoped this move would restore the fighting spirit of the Russian Army." (121)
Encouraged by the Bolsheviks, who favoured peace negotiations, there were demonstrations against Kerensky in Petrograd. The Bolshevik popular slogan "Peace, Bread and Land", helped to increase support for the revolutionaries. By the summer of 1917, the membership of the Bolshevik Party had grown to 240,000. The Bolsheviks were especially favoured by the soldiers who found Lenin's promise of peace with Germany extremely attractive. (122)
Prince George Lvov was in conflict with Victor Chernov over the changes taking place over land ownership. Chernov issued circulars that supported the actions of the local land committees in reducing the rents of land leased by the peasants, seizing untilled fields for peasant use and commanding prisoner-of-war labour from private landowners. Lvov accused Chernov of going the back of the government and he prevailed on the ministry of justice to challenge the legality of Chernov's circulars. Without the full support of the cabinet in this dispute, Lvov resigned as prime minister on 7th July. (123)
Alexander Kerensky became the new prime minister and soon after taking office, he announced another new offensive. Soldiers on the Eastern Front were dismayed at the news and regiments began to refuse to move to the front line. There was a rapid increase in the number of men deserting and by the autumn of 1917 an estimated 2 million men had unofficially left the army. Some of these soldiers returned to their homes and used their weapons to seize land from the nobility. Manor houses were burnt down and in some cases wealthy landowners were murdered. Kerensky and the Provisional Government issued warnings but were powerless to stop the redistribution of land in the countryside.
After the failure of the July Offensive on the Eastern Front, Kerensky replaced General Alexei Brusilov with General Lavr Kornilov, as Supreme Commander of the Russian Army. Kornilov had a fine military record and unlike most of the Russian senior officers, came "from the people" as he was the son of a poor farmer. "This combination made Kornilov the man of destiny in the eyes of those conservative and moderate politicians... who hoped that through him the Revolution might be tamed. But not only the right pinned its hopes on Kornilov. Kerensky and some in in his entourage hoped to use the general to destroy any future Bolshevik threat and to remove or diminish the tutelage of the soviets over the Provisional Government." (124)
However, the two men soon clashed about military policy. Kornilov wanted Kerensky to restore the death-penalty for soldiers and to militarize the factories. He told his aide-de-camp, that "the time had come to hang the German agents and spies, headed by Lenin, to disperse the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies so that it can never reassemble." On 7th September, Kornilov demanded the resignation of the Cabinet and the surrender of all military and civil authority to the Commander in Chief. Kerensky responded by dismissing Kornilov from office and ordering him back to Petrograd. (125)
Kornilov now sent troops under the leadership of General Aleksandr Krymov to take control of Petrograd. Kornilov believed that he was going to become military dictator of Russia. He had the open support of a number of prominent Russian industrialists, headed by Aleksei Putilov, owner of the steelworks and the leading Petrograd banker. Others involved in the plot included Alexander Guchkov, a backer of an organization called the Union for Economic Revival of Russia. According to one source these industrialists had raised 4 million rubles for Kornilov's conspiracy. (126)
Kerensky was now in danger and so he called on the Soviets and the Red Guards to protect Petrograd. The Bolsheviks, who controlled these organizations, agreed to this request, but in a speech made by their leader, Lenin, he made clear they would be fighting against Kornilov rather than for Kerensky. Within a few days Bolsheviks had enlisted 25,000 armed recruits to defend Petrograd. While they dug trenches and fortified the city, delegations of soldiers were sent out to talk to the advancing troops. Meetings were held and Kornilov's troops decided to refuse to attack Petrograd. General Krymov committed suicide and Kornilov was arrested and taken into custody. (127)
Kerensky now became the new Supreme Commander of the Russian Army. His continued support for the war effort made him unpopular in Russia and on 8th October, Kerensky attempted to recover his left-wing support by forming a new coalition that included three Mensheviks and two Socialist Revolutionaries. However, with the Bolsheviks controlling the Soviets, and now able to call on a large armed militia, Kerensky was unable to reassert his authority.
Some members of the Constitutional Democratic Party urged Pavel Milyukov to take action against the Provisional Government. He defended his position by arguing: "It will be our task not to destroy the government, which would only aid anarchy, but to instill in it a completely different content, that is, to build a genuine constitutional order. That is why, in our struggle with the government, despite everything, we must retain a sense of proportion.... To support anarchy in the name of the struggle with the government would be to risk all the political conquests we have made since 1905." (128)
The Cadet party newspaper did not take the Bolshevik challenge seriously: "The best way to free ourselves from Bolshevism would be to entrust its leaders with the fate of the country... The first day of their final triumph would also be the first day of their quick collapse." Leon Trotsky accused Milyukov of being a supporter of General Lavr Kornilov and trying to organize a right-wing coup against the Provisional Government. Nikolai Sukhanov, a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party argued that in Russia there was "a hatred for Kerenskyism, fatigue, rage and a thirst for peace, bread and land". (129)
Alexander Kerensky later claimed he was in a very difficult position and described Milyukov's supporters as being Bolsheviks of the Right: "The struggle of the revolutionary Provisional Government with the Bolsheviks of the Right and of the Left... We struggled on two fronts at the same time, and no one will ever be able to deny the undoubted connection between the Bolshevik uprising and the efforts of Reaction to overthrow the Provisional Government and drive the ship of state right onto the shore of social reaction." Kerensky argued that Milyukov was now working closely with other right-wing forces to destroy the Provisional Government: "In mid-October, all Kornilov supporters, both military and civilian, were instructed to sabotage government measures to suppress the Bolshevik uprising." (130)
Isaac Steinberg pointed out that only the Bolsheviks were showing determined leadership. "The army, exhausted by a desperate thirst for peace and anticipating all the horrors of a new winter campaign, was looking for a decisive change in policy. The peasantry, yearning for freed land and fearing to lose it in incomprehensive delays, was also waiting for this change. The proletariat, having seen lock-outs, unemployment and the collapse of industry and dreaming of a new social order, which must be born of the revolutionary storm, of which it was the vanguard, awaited this change." (131)
John Reed was a journalist who was living in Petrograd at the time: "Week by week food became scarcer. The daily allowance of bread fell from a pound and a half to a pound, than three-quarters, half, and a quarter-pound. Towards the end there was a week without any bread at all. Sugar one was entitled to at the rate of two pounds a month - if one could get it at all, which was seldom. A bar of chocolate or a pound of tasteless candy cost anywhere from seven to ten roubles - at least a dollar. For milk and bread and sugar and tobacco one had to stand in queue. Coming home from an all-night meeting I have seen the tail beginning to form before dawn, mostly women, some babies in their arms." (132)
It has been argued that Lenin was the master of good timing: "Rarely had he (Lenin) displayed to better advantage his sense of timing, his ability to see one jump ahead of his opponents. He had spurred his men on in April, May and June; he held them back in July and August; now, after the Kornilov fiasco, he once again spurred them on." (133) He began writing The State and Revolution, where he called upon the Bolsheviks to destroy the old state machinery for the purpose of overthrowing the bourgeoisie, destroying bourgeois parliamentarism... for the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat." (134)
Lenin now decided it was time to act. On 20th October, the Military Revolutionary Committee had its first meeting. Members included Joseph Stalin, Andrey Bubnov, Moisei Uritsky, Felix Dzerzhinsky and Yakov Sverdlov. According to Robert V. Daniels, the author of Red October: The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 (1967): "Despite Menshevik charges of an insurrectionary plot, the Bolsheviks were still vague about the role this organisation might play... Several days were to pass before the committee became an active force. Nevertheless, here was the conception, if not the actual birth, of the body which was to superintend the overthrow of the Provisional Government." (135)
Morgan Philips Price, a journalist working for the Manchester Guardian, watched Lenin and Leon Trotsky closely during this period: "Lenin struck me as being a man who, in spite of the revolutionary jargon that he used, was aware of the obstacles facing him and his party. There was no doubt that Lenin was the driving force behind the Bolshevik Party... He was the brains and the planner, but not the orator or the rabble-rouser. That function fell to Trotsky. I watched the latter, several times that evening, rouse the Congress delegates, who were becoming listless, probably through long hours of excitement and waiting. He was always the man who could say the right thing at the right moment. I could see that there was beginning now that fruitful partnership between him and Lenin that did so much to carry the Revolution through the critical periods that were coming." (136)
In the summer of 1917 the Bolshevik Central Committee decided it was too dangerous for Lenin to remain in Petrograd. Gregory Ordzhonikidze gave Alexander Schottmann the job of guarding Lenin's life and of arranging his journey to Finland. Lenin, who shaved off his moustache and beard, and put on a wig. A photograph was taken in the disguise and was pasted on their false paper. Lenin later wrote that "Schottmann is an old Party comrade, whom I know quite well. He deserves absolute trust." (136a)
Schottmann and Lenin spent a lot of time discussing the forming of a Bolshevik government. Schottmann argued that the Bolsheviks lacked the experts to run the machinery of state. Lenin disagreed: "Any worker can learn to run a ministerial office in a few days. No special ability is needed; the technical part of the work can be handled by the functionaries whom we shall compel to work for us." (136b)
Lenin explained his proposed tactics: "The basic thing was to enact the decrees that could convince the Russian people that the power was theirs. As soon as they felt that, they would support the new regime. His first act would be to end the war, thereby winning the support of the front-weary army. The lands of the Tsar, the aristocracy, and the church would be confiscated and turned over to the peasants. The factories and plants would be taken from the capitalists and given to the workers. Who would then remain to oppose the Bolsheviks." (136c)
After the failed Kornilov Revolt it was considered safe for Lenin to return to Petrograd. On 24th October, 1917, Lenin wrote a letter to the members of the Central Committee: "The situation is utterly critical. It is clearer than clear that now, already, putting off the insurrection is equivalent to its death. With all my strength I wish to convince my comrades that now everything is hanging by a hair, that on the agenda now are questions that are decided not by conferences, not by congresses (not even congresses of soviets), but exclusively by populations, by the mass, by the struggle of armed masses… No matter what may happen, this very evening, this very night, the government must be arrested, the junior officers guarding them must be disarmed, and so on… History will not forgive revolutionaries for delay, when they can win today (and probably will win today), but risk losing a great deal tomorrow, risk losing everything." (137)
Lenin insisted that the Bolsheviks should take action before the elections for the Constituent Assembly. "The international situation is such that we must make a start. The indifference of the masses may be explained by the fact that they are tired of words and resolutions. The majority is with us now. Politically things are quite ripe for the change of power. The agrarian disorders point to the same thing. It is clear that heroic measures will be necessary to stop this movement, if it can be stopped at all. The political situation therefore makes our plan timely. We must now begin thinking of the technical side of the undertaking. That is the main thing now. But most of us, like the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries, are still inclined to regard the systematic preparation for an armed uprising as a sin. To wait for the Constituent Assembly, which will surely be against us, is nonsensical because that will only make our task more difficult." (137a)
Lev Kamenev and Gregory Zinoviev opposed this strategy. They argued that the Bolsheviks did not have the support of the majority of people in Russia or of the international proletariat and should wait for the elections of the proposed Constituent Assembly "where we will be such a strong opposition party that in a country of universal suffrage our opponents will be compelled to make concessions to us at every step, or we will form, together with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, non-party peasants, etc., a ruling bloc which will fundamentally have to carry out our programme." (138)
Lenin thought the details of an uprising would be simple. "We can launch a sudden attack from three points, from Petrograd, from Moscow, from the Baltic Fleet... We have thousands of armed workers and soldiers in Petrograd who can seize at once the Winter Palace, the General Staff building, the telephone exchange and all the largest printing establishments... The troops will not advance against the government of peace... Kerensky will be compelled to surrender." When it was clear that the Bolshevik Central Committee did not accept Lenin's point of view he issued a political ultimatum: "I am compelled to tender my resignation from the Central Committee, which I hereby do, leaving myself the freedom of propaganda in the lower ranks of the party and at the party congress."
Leon Trotsky supported Lenin's view and urged the overthrow of the Provisional Government. On the evening of 24th October, orders were given for the Bolsheviks to occupy the railway stations, the telephone exchange and the State Bank. The Smolny Institute became the headquarters of the revolution and was transformed into a fortress. Trotsky reported that the "chief of the machine-gun company came to tell me that his men were all on the side of the Bolsheviks". (139)
The Bolsheviks set up their headquarters in the Smolny Institute. The former girls' convent school also housed the Petrograd Soviet. Under pressure from the nobility and industrialists, Alexander Kerensky was persuaded to take decisive action. On 22nd October he ordered the arrest of the Bolshevik Military Revolutionary Committee. The next day he closed down the Bolshevik newspapers and cut off the telephones to the Smolny Institute.
The following day the Red Guards surrounded the Winter Palace. Inside was most of the country's Cabinet, although Kerensky had managed to escape from the city. The palace was defended by Cossacks, some junior army officers and the Woman's Battalion. At 9 p.m. The Aurora and the Peter and Paul Fortress began to open fire on the palace. Little damage was done but the action persuaded most of those defending the building to surrender. The Red Guards, led by Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, now entered the Winter Palace. (140)
Bessie Beatty, an American journalist, entered the Winter Palace with the Red Guards: "At the head of the winding staircase groups of frightened women were gathered, searching the marble lobby below with troubled eyes. Nobody seemed to know what had happened. The Battalion of Death had walked out in the night, without firing so much as a single shot. Each floor was crowded with soldiers and Red Guards, who went from room to room, searching for arms, and arresting officers suspected of anti-Bolshevik sympathies. The landings were guarded by sentries, and the lobby was swarming with men in faded uniforms. Two husky, bearded peasant soldiers were stationed behind the counter, and one in the cashier's office kept watch over the safe. Two machine-guns poked their ominous muzzles through the entryway." (141)
Louise Bryant, another journalist commented that there were about 200 women soldiers in the palace and they were "disarmed and told to go home and put on female attire". She added: "Every one leaving the palace was searched, no matter on what side he was. There were priceless treasures all about and it was a great temptation to pick up souvenirs. I have always been glad that I was present that night because so many stories have come out about the looting. It was so natural that there should have been looting and so commendable that there was none." (142)
Lenin suggested at the Bolshevik Central Committee that Trotsky should head the government. Trotsky rejected the idea and Lenin responded with the words: "Why ever not? It was you who stood at the head of the Petrograd Soviet that seized the power." His biographer, Robert Service, has pointed out that Trotsky never explained his reasoning for this decision. "Perhaps he preferred to play a leading role without being the solitary leader. This was a psychological feature that was evident in later years." (142a)
On 26th October, 1917, the All-Russian Congress of Soviets met and handed over power to the Soviet Council of People's Commissars. Lenin was elected chairman and other appointments included Leon Trotsky (Foreign Affairs) Alexei Rykov (Internal Affairs), Anatoli Lunacharsky (Education), Alexandra Kollontai (Social Welfare), Victor Nogin (Trade and Industry), Joseph Stalin (Nationalities), Peter Stuchka (Justice), Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko (War), Nikolai Krylenko (War Affairs), Pavlo Dybenko (Navy Affairs), Ivan Skvortsov-Stepanov (Finance), Vladimir Milyutin (Agriculture), Ivan Teodorovich (Food), Georgy Oppokov (Justice) and Nikolai Glebov-Avilov (Posts & Telegraphs). (143)
As chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, Lenin made his first announcement of the changes that were about to take place. Banks were nationalized and workers control of factory production was introduced. The most important reform concerned the land: "All private ownership of land is abolished immediately without compensation... 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." (144)
The journalist, Louise Bryant, had difficulty arranging an interview with Lenin. She commented in her book, Six Months in Russia (1918) that it took her several weeks before he agreed to see her. "He is a little round man, quite bald and smooth-shaven. For days he shuts himself away and it is impossible to interview him." She compared him with Alexander Kerensky who she had met several times: "Kerensky has personality plus... one cannot help but be charmed by his wit and his friendliness... On the other hand, Lenin is sheer intellect - he is absorbed, cold, unattractive, impatient at interruption... Lenin has tremendous power; he is backed by the Soviets... Lenin is a master propagandist. If any one is capable of manoeuvring a revolution in Germany and Austria, it is Lenin... Lenin is monotonous and through and he is dogged; he possesses all the qualities of a chief, including the absolute moral indifference which is so necessary to such a part." (145)
After Nicholas II abdicated, the new Provisional Government announced it would introduce a Constituent Assembly. Elections were due to take place in November. Some leading Bolsheviks believed that the election should be postponed as the Socialist Revolutionaries might well become the largest force in the assembly. When it seemed that the election was to be cancelled, five members of the Bolshevik Central Committee, Victor Nogin, Lev Kamenev, Gregory Zinoviev, Alexei Rykov and Vladimir Milyutin submitted their resignations.
Kamenev believed it was better to allow the election to go ahead and although the Bolsheviks would be beaten it would give them to chance to expose the deficiencies of the Socialist Revolutionaries. "We (the Bolsheviks) shall be such a strong opposition party that in a country of universal suffrage our opponents will be compelled to make concessions to us at every step, or we will form, together with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, non-party peasants, etc., a ruling bloc which will fundamentally have to carry out our programme." (146)
On 4th November, 1917, the five men issued a statement: "The leading group in the Central Committee... has firmly decided not to allow the formation of a government of the soviet parties but to fight for a purely Bolshevik government however it can and whatever the sacrifices this costs the workers and soldiers. We cannot assume responsibility for this ruinous policy of the Central Committee, carried out against the will of a large part of the proletariat and soldiers." Nogin, Rykov, Milyutin and Ivan Teodorovich resigned their commissariats. They issued another statement: "There is only one path: the preservation of a purely Bolshevik government by means of political terror. We cannot and will not accept this." (147)
Eventually it was decided to go ahead with the elections for the Consistent Assembly. The party newspaper, Pravda, claimed: "As a democratic government we cannot disregard the decision of the people, even if we do not agree with it. If the peasants follow the Social Revolutionaries farther, even if they give that party a majority in the Constituent Assembly, we shall say: so be it." (148)
Eugene Lyons, the author of Workers’ Paradise Lost: Fifty Years of Soviet Communism: A Balance Sheet (1967), pointed out: "The hopes of self-government unleashed by the fall of tsarism were centered on the Constituent Assembly, a democratic parliament to draw up a democratic constitution. Lenin and his followers, of course, jumped on that bandwagon, too, posing not merely as advocates of the parliament but as its only true friends. What if the voting went against them? They piously pledged themselves to abide by the popular mandate." (149)
The balloting began on 25th November and continued until 9th December. Morgan Philips Price, a journalist working for the Manchester Guardian, reported: "The elections for the Constituent Assembly have just taken place here. The polling was very high. Every man and woman votes all over this vast territory, even the Lapp in Siberia and the Tartar of Central Asia. Russia is now the greatest and most democratic country in the world. There are several women candidates for the Constituent Assembly and some are said to have a good chance of election. The one thing that troubles us all and hangs like a cloud over our heads is the fear of famine." (150)
Despite the prevailing disorders and confusion, thirty-six million cast their secret ballots in parts of the country normal enough to hold elections. In most of the large centers of population, the voting was conducted under Bolshevik auspices. Yet twenty-seven of the thirty-six million votes went to other parties. A total of 703 candidates were elected to the Constituent Assembly in November, 1917. This included Socialist Revolutionaries (299), Bolsheviks (168), Mensheviks (18) and Constitutional Democratic Party (17).
The elections disclosed the strongholds of each party: "The Socialist-Revolutionaries were dominant in the north, north-west, central black earth, south-eastern Volga, in the north Caucasus, Siberia, most of the Ukraine and amongst the soldiers of the south-western and Rumanian fronts, and the sailors of the Black Sea fleet. The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, held sway in White Russia, in most of the central provinces, and in Petrograd and Moscow. They also dominated the armies on the northern and western fronts and the Baltic fleet. The Mensheviks were virtually limited to Transcaucasia, and the Kadets to the metropolitan centres of Moscow and Petrograd where, in any case, they took place to the Bolsheviks." (151)
It seemed that the Socialist Revolutionaries would be in a position to form the next government. As David Shub pointed out, "The Russian people, in the freest election in modern history, voted for moderate socialism and against the bourgeoisie." Most members of the Bolshevik Central Committee, now favoured a coalition government. Lenin believed that the Bolsheviks should retain power and attacked his opponents for their "un-Marxist remarks" and their criminal vacillation". Lenin managed to pass a resolution through the Central Committee by a narrow margin. (152)
Lenin demobilized the Russian Army and announced that he planned to seek an armistice with Germany. In December, 1917, Leon Trotsky led the Russian delegation at Brest-Litovsk that was negotiating with representatives from Germany and Austria. Trotsky had the difficult task of trying to end Russian participation in the First World War without having to grant territory to the Central Powers. By employing delaying tactics Trotsky hoped that socialist revolutions would spread from Russia to Germany and Austria-Hungary before he had to sign the treaty. (153)
The Constituent Assembly opened on 18th January, 1918. "The Bolsheviks and Left Socialist Revolutionaries occupied the extreme left of the house; next to them sat the crowded Socialist Revolutionary majority, then the Mensheviks. The benches on the right were empty. A number of Cadet deputies had already been arrested; the rest stayed away. The entire Assembly was Socialist - but the Bolsheviks were only a minority." (154)
Harold Williams, of the Daily Chronicle reported: "When the Assembly was opened the galleries were crowded, mostly with Bolshevik supporters. Sailors and Red Guards, with their bayonets hanging at various angles, stood on the floor of the House. To right and left of the Speaker's tribune sat the People's Commissars and their assistants. Lenin was there, bald, red-bearded, short and rather stout. He was apparently in good spirits, and chattered merrily with Krylenko (Commander-in-Chief of the Army). There were Lunacharsky and Mme Kollontai, and a number of dark young men who now stand at the head of the various Government departments and devise schemes for the imposition of unalloyed Socialism on Russia." (155)
Yakov Sverdlov was the first to mount the platform. He then read a statement that demanded that all state power be vested in the Soviets, therefore destroying the very meaning of the Constituent Assembly. He added: "all attempts on the part of any person or institution to assume any of the functions of government will be regarded as a counter-revolutionary act... every such attempt will be suppressed by all means at the command of the Soviet Government, included the use of armed force." (156)
This statement was ignored and the members of the Constituent Assembly demanded the election of a President. Victor Chernov, leader of the Socialist Revolutionaries, was proposed for the post. The Bolsheviks decided not to nominate their own candidate and instead endorsed Maria Spiridonova, the candidate of the Left Social-Revolutionaries. Spiridonova, since returning to Petrograd from Sibera in June, had become an important figure in the revolution as she believed that fighting a war with Germany meant postponing key reforms. (157)
Chernov won the vote of 244 against 151. In his opening address, Chernov expressed hope that the Constituent Assembly meant the start of stable and democratic government. He welcomed the Bolshevik land reforms and was pleased that the "soil would become the common property of all peasants who were willing and able to till it." However, he broke with the Bolsheviks over foreign policy when he stated that his government would strive for a general peace without victors or vanquished but would not sign a separate peace with Germany. (158)
Irakli Tsereteli the leader of the Mensheviks, rose to speak but was confronted with soldiers and sailors pointing rifles and pistols at his head. "The chairman's appeals for order brought more hooting, catcalls, obscene oaths, and fierce howls. Tsereteli finally managed, nevertheless, to capture general attention with his eloquent plea for civil liberty and the warning of civil war... Lenin did not speak. He sat on the stairs leading to the platform, smiled derisively, jested, wrote something on a slip of paper, then stretched himself out on a bench and pretended to fall asleep." (159)
When the Assembly refused to support the programme of the new Soviet Government, the Bolsheviks walked out in protest. The following day, Lenin announced that the Constituent Assembly had been dissolved. "In all Parliaments there are two elements: exploiters and exploited; the former always manage to maintain class privileges by manoeuvres and compromise. Therefore the Constituent Assembly represents a stage of class coalition.
In the next stage of political consciousness the exploited class realises that only a class institution and not general national institutions can break the power of the exploiters. The Soviet, therefore, represents a higher form of political development than the Constituent Assembly." (160)
Soon afterwards all opposition political groups, including the Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and the Constitutional Democratic Party, were banned in Russia. Maxim Gorky, a world famous Russian writer and active revolutionary, pointed out: "For a hundred years the best people of Russia lived with the hope of a Constituent Assembly. In this struggle for this idea thousands of the intelligentsia perished and tens of thousands of workers and peasants... The unarmed revolutionary democracy of Petersburg - workers, officials - were peacefully demonstrating in favour of the Constituent Assembly. Pravda lies when it writes that the demonstration was organized by the bourgeoisie and by the bankers.... Pravda knows that the workers of the Obukhavo, Patronnyi and other factories were taking part in the demonstrations. And these workers were fired upon. And Pravda may lie as much as it wants, but it cannot hide the shameful facts." (161)
Rosa Luxemburg agreed with Gorky about the closing down of the Constituent Assembly. In her book, Russian Revolution, written in 1918 but not published until 1922, she wrote: "We have always exposed the bitter kernel of social inequality and lack of freedom under the sweet shell of formal equality and freedom - not in order to reject the latter, but to spur the working-class not to be satisfied with the shell, but rather to conquer political power and fill it with a new social content. It is the historic task of the proletariat, once it has attained power, to create socialist democracy in place of bourgeois democracy, not to do away with democracy altogether."
Luxemburg went onto argue: "But socialist democracy is not something which begins only in the promised land after the foundations of socialist economy are created; it does not come as some sort of Christmas present for the worthy people who, in the interim, have loyally supported a handful of socialist dictators. Socialist democracy begins simultaneously with the beginnings of the destruction of class rule and of the construction of socialism. It begins at the very moment of the seizure of power by the socialist party. It is the same thing as the dictatorship of the proletariat. Yes, dictatorship! But this dictatorship consists in the manner of applying democracy, not in its elimination, but in energetic, resolute attacks upon the well-entrenched rights and economic relationships of bourgeois society, without which a socialist transformation cannot be accomplished. But this dictatorship must be the work of the class and not of a little leading minority in the name of the class – that is, it must proceed step by step out of the active participation of the masses; it must be under their direct influence, subjected to the control of complete public activity; it must arise out of the growing political training of the mass of the people." (162)
Morgan Philips Price, a journalist working for the Manchester Guardian, went to interview Luxemburg while she was in prison in Germany. He later reported: "She asked me if the Soviets were working entirely satisfactorily. I replied, with some surprise, that of course they were. She looked at me for a moment, and I remember an indication of slight doubt on her face, but she said nothing more. Then we talked about something else and soon after that I left. Though at the moment when she asked me that question I was a little taken aback, I soon forgot about it. I was still so dedicated to the Russian Revolution, which I had been defending against the Western Allies' war of intervention, that I had had no time for anything else." (163)
As Paul Frölich pointed out: "She (Rosa Luxemburg) was unwilling to see criticism suppressed, even hostile criticism. She regarded unrestricted criticism as the only means of preventing the ossification of the state apparatus into a downright bureaucracy. Permanent public control, and freedom of the press and of assembly were therefore necessary." (164) Luxemburg argued: "Freedom for supporters of the government only, for members of one party only - no matter how numerous they might be - is no freedom at all. Freedom is always freedom for those who think differently." (165)
Luxemburg then went on to make some predictions about the future of Russia. "But with the suppression of political life in the Soviets must become more and more crippled. Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of the press and of assembly, without the free struggle of opinion, life in every public institution dies down and becomes a mere semblance of itself in which the bureaucracy remains as the only active element. Public life gradually falls asleep. A few dozen party leaders with inexhaustible energy and boundless idealism direct and rule. Among these, a dozen outstanding minds manage things in reality, and an elite of the working class is summoned to meetings from time to time so that they can applaud the speeches of the leaders, and give unanimous approval to proposed resolutions, thus at bottom a cliquish set-up - a dictatorship, to be sure, but not the dictatorship rule.of the proletariat: rather the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, i.e., a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of a Jacobin rule... every long-lasting regime based on martial law leads without fail to arbitrariness, and all arbitrary power tends to deprave society." (166)
After the revolution Lenin demobilized the Russian Army and announced that he planned to seek an armistice with Germany. Leon Trotsky led the Russian delegation at Brest-Litovsk that was negotiating with representatives from the Central Powers. Trotsky had the difficult task of trying to end Russian participation in the First World War without having to grant territory to the enemy. By employing delaying tactics Trotsky hoped that socialist revolutions would spread from Russia to Germany and Austria-Hungary before he had to sign the treaty. (167)
Trotsky commented: "The circumstances of history willed that the delegates of the most revolutionary regime ever known to humanity should sit at the same diplomatic table with the representatives of the most reactionary caste among all the ruling classes. How greatly our opponents feared the explosive power of their negotiations with the Bolsheviks was shown by their readiness to break off the negotiations rather than transfter them to a neutral country." (168)
Arthur Ransome reported in The Daily News. "I wonder whether the English people realize how great is the matter now at stake and how near we are to witnessing a separate peace between Russia and Germany, which would be a defeat for German democracy in its own country, besides ensuring the practical enslavement of all Russia. A separate peace will be a victory, not for Germany, but for the military caste in Germany. It may mean much more than the neutrality of Russia. If we make no move it seems possible that the Germans will ask the Russians to help them in enforcing the Russian peace terms on the Allies." (169)
Trotsky later wrote: "It was obvious that going on with the war was impossible. On this point there was not even a shadow of disagreement between Lenin and me. But there was another question. How had the February revolution, and, later on, the October revolution, affected the German army? How soon would any effect show itself? To these questions no answer could as yet be given. We had to try and find it in the course of the negotiations as long as we could. It was necessary to give the European workers time to absorb properly the very fact of the Soviet revolution." He hoped that Russia's socialist revolution would spread to Germany. This idea was reinforced when Trotsky heard the rumour on 21st January 1918, that a workers' soviet headed by Karl Liebknecht had been established in Berlin. This story was untrue as Liebknecht was still in a German prison. (170)
Leon Trotsky recalled in his autobiography: "On 21st February, we received new terms from Germany, framed, apparently, with the direct object of making the signing of peace impossible. By the time our delegation returned to Brest-Litovsk, these terms, as is well known, had been made even harsher. All of us, including Lenin, were of the impression that the Germans had come to an agreement with the Allies about crushing the Soviets, and that a peace on the western front was to be built on the bones of the Russian revolution."
Lenin continued to argue for a peace agreement, whereas his opponents, including Leon Trotsky, Nickolai Bukharin, Andrey Bubnov, Alexandra Kollontai, Yuri Piatakov, Karl Radek and Moisei Uritsky, were in favour of a "revolutionary war" against Germany. This belief had been encouraged by the German demands for the "annexations and dismemberment of Russia". In the ranks of the opposition was Lenin's close friend, Inessa Armand, who had surprisingly gone public with her demands for continuing the war with Germany. (171)
After nine weeks of discussions without agreement, the German Army was ordered to resume its advance into Russia. On 3rd March 1918, with German troops moving towards Petrograd, Lenin ordered Trotsky to accept the terms of the Central Powers. The Brest-Litovsk Treaty resulted in the Russians surrendering the Ukraine, Finland, the Baltic provinces, the Caucasus and Poland.
Trotsky later admitted that he was totally against signing the agreement as he thought that by continuing the war with the Central Powers it would help encourage socialist revolutions in Germany and Austria: "Had we really wanted to obtain the most favourable peace, we would have agreed to it as early as last November. But no one raised his voice to do it. We were all in favour of agitation, of revolutionizing the working classes of Germany, Austria-Hungary and all of Europe." (172)
Herbert Sulzbach recorded in his diary: "The final peace treaty has been signed with Russia. Our conditions are hard and severe, but our quite exceptional victories entitle us to demand these, since our troops are nearly in Petersburg, and further over on the southern front, Kiev has been occupied, while in the last week we have captured the following men and items of equipment: 6,800 officers, 54,000 men, 2,400 guns, 5,000 machine-guns, 8,000 railway trucks, 8,000 locomotives, 128,000 rifles and 2 million rounds of artillery ammunition. Yes, there is still some justice left, and the state which was first to start mass murder in 1914 has now, with all its missions, been finally overthrown." (173)
In the months following the revolution, John Reed spent time with Lenin: "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, umcompromising and detached, without picturesque idiosyncracies - but with the power of explaining profound ideas in simple terms, of analysing a concrete situation. And combined with shrewdness, the greatest intellectual audacity." (174)
It has been claimed that the head of the American Red Cross in Russia, Raymond Robins met Lenin on average three times a week. The two men had a series of debates on politics. On one occasion Lenin said to Robins: "We may be overthrown in Russia, by the backwardness of Russia or by foreign force, but the idea in the Russian revolution will break and wreck every political social control in the world. Our method of social control dominates the future. Political social control will die. The Russian revolution will kill it everywhere." Robins dismissed this idea of the future: "But my government is a democratic government. Do you really say that the idea in the Russian revolution will destroy the democratic idea in the government of the United States?... Our national government and our local governments are elected by the people, and most of the elections are honest and fair, and the men elected are the true choices of the voters. You cannot call the American government a bought government."
Lenin replied: "I'll tell you, our system will destroy yours because it will consist of a social control which recognizes the basic fact of modern life. It recognizes the fact that real power today is economic and that the social control of today must therefore be economic also.... This system is stronger than yours because it admits reality. It seeks out the sources of daily human work-value and, out of those sources, directly, it creates the social control of the state. Our government will be an economic social control for an economic age. It will triumph because it speaks the spirit, and releases and uses the spirit, of the age that now is. Therefore, Colonel Robins, we look with confidence at the future. You may destroy us in Russia. You may destroy the Russian revolution in Russia. You may overthrow me. It will make no difference. A hundred years ago the monarchies of Britain, Prussia, Austria, Russia, overthrew the government of revolutionary France. They restored a monarch, who was called a legitimate monarch, to power in Paris. But they could not stop, and they did not stop, the middle-class political revolution, the revolution of middle class democracy, which had been started at Paris by the men of the French Revolution of 1789. They could not save feudalism. Every system of feudal aristocratic social control in Europe was destined to be destroyed by the political democratic social control worked out by the French Revolution. Every system of political democratic social control in the world to-day is destined now to be destroyed by the economic producers' social control worked out by the Russian revolution." (175)
Lenin liked discussing politics with Arthur Ransome. The journalist later wrote: "Not only is he without personal ambition, but, as a Marxist, believes in the movement of the masses... His faith in himself is the belief that he justly estimates the direction of elemental forces. He does not believe that one man can make or stop the revolution. If the revolution fails, it fails only temporarily, and because of forces beyond any man's control. He is consequently free, with a freedom no other great leader has ever had... He is as it were the exponent not the cause of the events that will be for ever linked with his name."
Ransome told Lenin that a Marxist revolution was unlikely to take place in Britain. Lenin replied: "We have a saying that a man may have typhoid while still on his legs. Twenty, maybe thirty years ago, I had abortive typhoid, and was going about with it, had it some days before it knocked me over. Well, England and France and Italy have caught the disease already. England may seem to you untouched, but the microbe is already there." (176)
Harold Williams, a journalist working for the Daily Chronicle, reported that stories suggested that Lenin was a German agent: "Lenin is an interesting figure. It is absurd to regard him as a mere German agent. I imagine that in pursuit of his ends Lenin is willing to use all available means, and if the Germans like to supply money or officers for the purpose of effecting a social revolution in Russia he gladly accepts even their services. Mere money for his personal use could not tempt such a man. He is utterly headstrong, oblivious of realities, oblivious of what he regards as bourgeois morality, oblivious of immediate consequences. He sees only his goal, the complete and forcible establishment of Socialism in Russia." (177)
David Shub who knew Lenin well believed he was willing to use extreme methods to maintain power. When he discovered that Lev Kamenev had abolished capital punishment for desertion in the Russian Army he was furious. "How can one make revolution without executions?" When he attempted to defend his decision Kamenev was told that he was expressing "an unpardonable weakness". Lenin once asked Leon Trotsky: "Do you really think that we shall be victorious without using the most cruel terror?" (178)
In December, 1917, Felix Dzerzhinsky was appointed by Lenin as Commissar for Internal Affairs and head of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage (Cheka). A few days later he told senior members of Cheka: "Our Revolution is in serious danger. We tolerate too good-naturedly what is transpiring around us. The forces of our enemies are organizing. The counter-revolutionaries are at work and are organizing their groups in various sections of the country. The enemy is encamped in Petrograd, at our very hearth! We have indisputable evidence of this and we must send to this front the most stern, energetic, hearty and loyal comrades who are ready to do all to defend the attainments of our Revolution. Do not think that I am on the look-out for forms of revolutionary justice. We have no need for justice now. Now we have need of a battle to the death! I propose, I demand the initiation of the Revolutionary sword which will put an end to all counter-revolutionists." (179)
Like most Bolshevik leaders, Dzerzhinsky did not come from the working class. He was the son of a rich Polish landowner. "He was fair, slightly round-shouldered, with a short pointed beard and transparent eyes with dilated pupils. There were moments when his friendly smile gave way to icy sternness. At such times his eyes and ascetic bloodless lips revealed a demoniac fanaticism. Rigorous self-denial, incorrigible honesty, and a frigid indifference to the the opinions of others completed his make-up. His natural modesty, unassuming air and quiet manners set him apart. He was the great puritan, the 'saint' of the upheaval. Frail and given to occasional fits of melancholy, he sought retirement in unceasing labour behind closed doors, away from the multitude and party comrades alike. For most of the latter he had little respect; nearly all of them came to fear him, some distrusted him, and few mourned him when he died... In his bleak asceticism, complete devotion to Lenin, personal unselfishness, and utter lack of feeling towards political opponents, he had no equal." (180)
In an interview in the Bolshevik newspaper, Novaya Zhizn, Dzerzhinsky admitted: "We stand for organized terror - this should be frankly admitted. Terror is an absolute necessity during times of revolution. Our aim is to fight against the enemies of the Soviet Government and of the new order of life. We judge quickly. In most cases only a day passes between the apprehension of the criminal and his sentence. When confronted with evidence criminals in almost every case confess; and what argument can have greater weight than a criminal's own confession." (181) Walter Duranty, a journalist working for the New York Times claimed that "the fear of the Cheka was so great those early days in Moscow that people made a detour rather than step on the sidewalk in front of its main building on Lubyanka Square." (182)
After advances made by the White Army in February 1918, Lenin proclaimed that the "Socialist Fatherland" was in danger: "Agents of the speculators, gangsters, counter-revolutionary agitators, and German spies are to be shot on the spot... There had not been a single revolution in history when people did not... manifest salutary firmness by shooting thieves on the spot... A dictatorship is an iron power, possessing revolutionary daring and swiftness of action, ruthless in crushing exploiters as well as hooligans." (183)
In March, 1918, Moisei Uritsky joined the Communist Secret Police (Cheka) and was appointed Commissar for Internal Affairs in the Northern Region. He was assassinated by Leonid Kannegisser, a young military cadet, on 17th August, 1918. Anatoli Lunacharsky commented: "They killed him. They struck us a truly well-aimed blow. They picked out one of the most gifted and powerful of their enemies, one of the most gifted and powerful champions of the working class." (184)
Lenin was furious that he had lost one of his most important followers. In his orders to his subordinates Lenin made it clear that he expected the rigorous imposition of the Red Terror. In one order he told the chairman of the Council of People's Commissars that: "We must carry out a ruthless mass terror against the kulaks, priests and White Guards. All suspicious persons should be detained in a concentration camp outside the city." (185)
The same day he sent a wire to the Nizhny Novgorod Soviet: "In Nizhny Novgorod there are clearly preparations for a White Guard uprising. We must gather our strength, set up a doctorial troika and institute mass terror immediately; shoot and ferret out hundreds of prostitutes who get the soldiers drunk, former officers, etc. Not a moment of delay. It is necessary to act all-out. Mass searches, execution for concealment of weapons. Mass seizures of Mensheviks and other unreliables." (186)
On 30th August, 1918, Lenin spoke at a meeting in Moscow. According to Victor Serge: "Lenin arrived alone; no one escorted him and no one formed a reception party. When he came out, workers surrounded him for a moment a few paces from his car." As he left the building Dora Kaplan, a member of the Socialist Revolutionaries, tried to ask Lenin some questions about the way he was running the country. Just before he got into his car Lenin turned to answer the woman. Serge then explained what happened next: "It was at this moment Kaplan fired at him, three times, wounding him seriously in the neck and shoulder. Lenin was driven back to the Kremlin by his chauffeur, and just had the strength to walk upstairs in silence to the second floor: then he fell in pain. There was great anxiety for him: the wound in the neck could have proved extremely serious; for a while it was thought that he was dying." (187)
Two bullets entered his body and it was too dangerous to remove them. Kaplan was soon captured and explained that she had attempted to kill him because he had closed down the Constituent Assembly. In a statement to the police she confessed to trying to kill Lenin. "My name is Fanya Kaplan. Today I shot at Lenin. I did it on my own. I will not say whom I obtained my revolver. I will give no details. I had resolved to kill Lenin long ago. I consider him a traitor to the Revolution. I was exiled to Akatui for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev. I spent 11 years at hard labour. After the Revolution, I was freed. I favoured the Constituent Assembly and am still for it." (188)
On 2nd September, as Lenin's life hung in the balance, Arthur Ransome, a British journalist, wrote an obituary hailing the founder of Bolshevism as "the greatest figure of the Russian Revolution". Here "for good or evil was a man who, at least for a moment, had his hand on the rudder of the world". He went on to say "common peasants who had known Lenin attested to his goodness, his extraordinary generosity to children. The workers looked up to him... not as an ordinary man, but as a saint". Without Lenin, Ransome concluded, the soviets would not perish, but they would lose their vital direction. "Fiery Trotsky, ingenious, brilliant Radek, are alike unable to replace the cool logic of the most colossal dreamer that Russia produced in our time." (189)
Joseph Stalin, who was in Tsaritsyn at the time of the assassination attempt on Lenin, sent a telegram to Yakov Sverdlov suggesting: "having learned about the wicked attempt of capitalist hirelings on the life of the greatest revolutionary, the tested leader and teacher of the proletariat, Comrade Lenin, answer this base attack from ambush with the organization of open and systematic mass terror against the bourgeoisie and its agents." (190)
Leon Trotsky agreed and argued in My Life: An Attempt at an Autobiography (1930): "The Socialist-Revolutionaries had killed Volodarsky and Uritzky, had wounded Lenin seriously, and had made two attempts to blow up my train. We could not treat this lightly. Although we did not regard it from the idealistic point of view of our enemies, we appreciated the role of the individual in history. We could not close our eyes to the danger that threatened the revolution if we were to allow our enemies to shoot down, one by one, the whole leading group of our party." (191)
The Bolsheviks newspaper, Krasnaya Gazeta, reported on 1st September, 1918: "We will turn our hearts into steel, which we will temper in the fire of suffering and the blood of fighters for freedom. We will make our hearts cruel, hard, and immovable, so that no mercy will enter them, and so that they will not quiver at the sight of a sea of enemy blood. We will let loose the floodgates of that sea. Without mercy, without sparing, we will kill our enemies in scores of hundreds. Let them be thousands; let them drown themselves in their own blood. For the blood of Lenin and Uritsky, Zinovief and Volodarski, let there be floods of the blood of the bourgeois - more blood, as much as possible." (192)
Morgan Philips Price, a journalist working for the Manchester Guardian, reported that the Red Terror was announced in Izvestia on 7th September, 1918. "There was no mistaking its meaning. It was proposed to take hostages from the former officers of the Tsar's army, from the Cadets and from the families of the Moscow and Petrograd middle-classes and to shoot ten for every Communist who fell to the White terror. Shortly after a decree was issued by the Central Soviet Executive ordering all officers of the old army within territories of the Republic to report on a certain day at certain places." (193)
The Bolshevik newspaper, Pravda made it clear that the Red Terror, was official government policy: "Workers! If you do not now destroy the bourgeoisie it will destroy you. Prepare for a mass attack on the enemies of the Revolution. We must eradicate the bourgeoisie, just as was done in the case of the army officers, and exterminate all those who are harmful to the Revolution. From now on the hymn of the working class will be a hymn of hate and revenge, even more terrifying than the hymn of hate that is sung in Germany against England. The counter revolution, this vicious mad dog, must be destroyed once and for all!" (194) Gregory Zinoviev told a meeting: "The bourgeoisie kill separate individuals; but we kill whole classes." (195)
Leonid Krasin, the People's Commissar for Transport, wrote to his wife about his disagreement with the implementation of the Red Terror: "After the assassination of Uritsky and the attempt on Lenin we went through a period of so-called `Terror', one of the most disgusting acts of the neo-Bolsheviks. About 600 to 700 persons were shot in Moscow and Petrograd, nine-tenths of them having been arrested quite at random or merely on suspicion of belonging to the right wing of the Socialist Revolutionaries, or else of being counter-revolutionists. In the provinces this developed into a series of revolting incidents, such as arrests and mass executions." (196)
It is estimated that in the few months after the attempt on the life of Lenin, over 800 socialists were arrested and shot without trial. A Foreign Office report in February, 1919, claimed: "The political parties which have been most oppressed by the Bolsheviks are the Socialists, Social Democrats and Social Revolutionaries. Owing to bribery and corruption - those notorious evils of the old regime which are now multiplied under Bolshevism - capitalists were able to get their money from the banks and their securities from safe deposits, and managed to get away. On the other hand, many members of the Liberal and Socialist parties who have worked all the time for the revolution, have been arrested or shot by the Bolsheviks." (197)
Walter Duranty later attempted to explain the thinking behind the Red Terror. He managed to obtain a document produced by a senior figure in Cheka: "The chief purpose, the writer said, was to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of the Revolution; therefore action must be ruthless and, above all, swift. The destruction of enemies without delay might often, by paralysing opposition, save many more lives later. Secrecy was also stressed, because that, too, was an element of terror. For this reason Cheka arrests almost always were made in the dead of night and the relatives and friends of arrested persons generally heard no more of them for weeks. Perhaps they would then be released; more commonly there would be a notification that clothing or food might be provided on a given date for Citizen So-and-so, who had been sentenced to a term of exile; sometimes a curt notice of execution." (198)
After the Russian Revolution a variety of different groups opposed the Bolshevik government. This included landowners who had lost their estates, factory owners who had their property nationalized, devout members of the Russian Orthodox Church who objected to the government's atheism and royalists who wanted to restore the monarchy. The closing down of the Constituent Assembly and the banning of all political parties united Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and Cadets against the Bolsheviks. Others were unhappy with the acceptance of the harsh terms of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty which resulted in Russia being deprived of a third of her population, a third of her factories and three-quarters of her coal and iron producing areas. She also had to pay reparations totalling 3,000 million roubles in gold. (199)
People who were willing to take up arms against the Bolshevik government became known as the White Army. However, they had mixed opinions about what kind of Russia they wanted: "Officers and politicians who remained pro-monarchist attached themselves to each of the White armies because politically there was nowhere else for them to turn. Tension would surface in each of the White armies between those favouring the more democratic progressivism of the February Revolution and those who could not reconcile themselves to it. They made a common if uneasy cause against the Bolsheviks." (200)
General Peter Wrangel, a commander in the north Caucasus, claimed that it was difficult to hold on to areas taken from the Red Army: "In the course of the last few months my command had received considerable reinforcements. In spite of heavy losses, its strength was almost normal. We were well supplied with artillery, technical equipment, telephones, telegraphs, and so on, which we had taken from the enemy. When the Reds had succeeded in making themselves masters of the Kuban district they had recourse to conscription there. Now these forced recruits were deserting en masse, and coming over to us to defend their homes. They were good fighters, but once their own village was cleared of Reds, many of them left the ranks to cultivate their land once more." (201)
Both sides carried out atrocities during the Civil War. One journalist claimed that the Red Army received orders on how to behave by the Bolshevik government: "It was proposed to take hostages from the former officers of the Tsar's army, from the Cadets and from the families of the Moscow and Petrograd middle-classes and to shoot ten for every Communist who fell to the White terror.... The reason given by the Bolshevik leaders for the Red terror was that conspirators could only be convinced that the Soviet Republic was powerful enough to be respected if it was able to punish its enemies, but nothing would convince these enemies except the fear of death, as all were persuaded that the Soviet Republic was falling. Given these circumstances, it is difficult to see what weapon the Communists could have used to get their will respected." (202)
The White Army also carried out acts of terror. Major-General Mikhail Drozdovsky wrote in his diary: "We arrived at Vladimirovka about 5.00 p.m. Having surrounded the village we placed the platoon in position, cut off the ford with machine-guns, fired a couple of volleys in the direction of the village, and everybody there took cover. Then the mounted platoon entered the village, met the Bolshevik committee, and put the members to death. After the executions, the houses of the culprits were burned and the whole male population under forty-five whipped soundly, the whipping being done by the old men. Then the population was ordered to deliver without pay the best cattle, pigs, fowl, forage, and bread for the whole detachment, as well as the best horses." (203)
Walter Duranty, a journalist working for the New York Times interviewed a White Army officer who admitted that they shot all captured members of the Red Army: "They're all Communists, and we can't keep them, you know; they make trouble in the prison camps and start rebellions, and so on. So now we always shoot them. That lot is going back to headquarters for examination - of course they never tell anything, Communists don't, but one or two might be stupid and give away some useful information - then we'll have to shoot them. Of course we don't shoot prisoners, but Communists are different. They always make trouble, so we have no choice." (204)
General Alexander Kolchak joined the rebellion and agreed to become a minister in the Provisional All-Russian Government based in Omsk. In November 1918, ministers who were members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party were arrested and Kolchak was named Supreme Ruler with dictatorial powers. In his first speech he claimed: "I will not go down the path of reaction, nor the ruinous path of party politics... my main goal is to create a battle-worthy army, attain a victory over Bolshevism, and establish law and order so that the people may without prejudice choose for themselves the manner of government which they prefer." (205)
General Alfred Knox wrote that Kolchak had "more grit, pluck and honest patriotism than any Russian in Siberia." However, others were not so convinced. "The character and soul of the Admiral are so transparent that one needs no more than one week of contact to know all there is to know about him. He is a big, sick child, a pure idealist, a convinced slave of duty and service to an idea and to Russia.... He is utterly absorbed by the idea of serving Russia, of saving her from Red oppression, and restoring her to full power and to the inviolability of her territory... He passionately despises all lawlessness and arbitrariness, but because he is so uncontrolled and impulsive, he himself often unintentionally transgresses against the law, and this mainly when seeking to uphold the same law, and always under the influence of some outsider." (206)
The Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) now changed sides and joined forces with the Red Army. Kolchak reacted by bring in new laws which established capital punishment for attempting to overthrow the authorities. He also announced that “insults written, printed, and oral, are punishable by imprisonment". Other measures imposed by Kolchak included the suppression of trade unions, disbanding of soviets, and returned factories and land to their previous owners. Kolchak was accused of committing war crimes and one report claimed that he had 25,000 people killed in Ekaterinburg. (207)
In June 1918 the Allies agreed to send military forces to help the White Army against the Soviet government. The following month French troops were landed in Vladivostok. The French appointed General Maurice Janin head of their military mission and placed him in charge of the Allied forces in western Siberia. "The French themselves contributed 1,076 troops in the summer of 1918. These included an Indo-Chinese battalion, an artillery battery and a reinforced company of volunteers from Alsace-Lorraine." (208)
The British landed 543 men of the 25th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel John Ward, in the summer of 1918. A former member of the Social Democratic Federation, he was initially sympathetic to the Red Army. However, he was appalled by the atrocities committed by the Bolsheviks. With the help of General Alfred Knox, the head of the British Military Mission, he helped to supply and train the White Army in Siberia. (209)
Brian Horrocks was a British officer who served under Ward, and was told by him that involvement in the Civil War was dangerous: "I believe we shall rue this business for many years. It is always unwise to intervene in the domestic affairs of any country. In my opinion the Reds are bound to win and our present policy will cause bitterness between us for a long time to come." Horrocks agreed: "How right he was: there are many people today who trace the present international impasse back to that fatal year of 1919. This was well above my head: the whole project sounded most exciting and that was all I cared about." (210)
Among the major Allied powers the Japanese were in the best position to intervene in Siberia. Japan had significant commercial and strategic interests in the Russian Far East, and although they had begun arriving in large numbers on the Western Front, they were relatively fresh to the horrors of trench warfare and had troops to spare. The Japanese arrived on 3rd August and began operating against the Bolsheviks in the Amur and Assuri regions. By November their numbers reached 72,400. (211)
General William S. Graves was given command of the 8th Infantry Division and sent to Siberia under direct orders from President Woodrow Wilson. His orders were to remain strictly apolitical amidst a politically turbulent situation. His main objective was to make sure the Trans-Siberian railroad stayed operational. American troops did not intervene in the the Civil War despite strong pressure brought on Graves to help the White Army by Admiral Alexander Kolchak. (212)
Morgan Philips Price, a journalist working for the Manchester Guardian, believed that foreign aid helped the Bolsheviks: "The Whites felt that they were saving Russia from the tyranny of a minority and were intending, if victorious, to restore the social order they had always known, tempered with what they vaguely called 'Western Democracy'. The Reds knew they were a minority facing another minority with a majority of waverers and undecided neutrals who would be influenced by the fortunes of the struggle. They felt that they stood for a nobler, higher order of society than that which they had overthrown. It was, therefore, a question which of these two minorities had the strongest moral conviction, which of them had the most courage and belief in themselves. The impression that I now have looking back on these days is that the Bolsheviks won through partly at least because the Whites had prejudiced their cause by calling in the aid of the foreigner." (213)
Lenin appointed Leon Trotsky as commissar of war and was sent to rally the Red Army in the Volga. Soon after taking command he issued the following order: “I give warning that if any unit retreats without orders, the first to be shot down will be the commissary of the unit, and next the commander. Brave and gallant soldiers will be appointed in their places. Cowards, bastards and traitors will not escape the bullet. This I solemnly promise in the presence of the entire Red Army.” (214)
Trotsky proved to be an outstanding military commander and Kazan and Simbirsk were recaptured in September, 1918. The following month he took Samara but the White Army did make progress in the south when General Anton Denikin took control of the Kuban region and General Peter Wrangel began to advance up the Volga. By October, 1918, General Denikin's army had swelled to 100,000 and occupied a front of two hundred miles. (215)
Trotsky announced his strategy on how to defeat the White Army. "Recognizing the existence of an acute military danger, we must take steps really to transform Soviet Russia into a military camp. With the help of the party and the trade-unions a registration must be carried out listing every member of the party, of the Soviet institutions and the trade-unions, with a view to using them for military service." (216)
The main threat to the Bolshevik government came from General Nikolai Yudenich. On 14th October, 1918, he captured Gatchina, only 50 kilometres from Petrograd. It is estimated that there were 200,000 foreign soldiers supporting the anti-Bolshevik forces. Trotsky arrived to direct the defence of the capital. He was not very impressed and it is claimed that his first action was to order Ivan Pavlunovsky, chief of the special section of the Petrograd Cheka, to carry out executions. "Comrade Pavlunovsky, I command you to arrest immediately and shoot the entire staff for the defence of Petrograd." (217)
Trotsky made it clear to the people of Petrograd that the city would not be surrendered: "As soon as the masses began to feel that Petrograd was not to be surrendered, and if necessary would be defended from within, in the streets and squares, the spirit changed at once. The more courageous and self-sacrificing lifted up their heads. Detachments of men and women, with trenching-tools on their shoulders, filed out of the mills and factories.... The whole city was divided into sections, controlled by staffs of workers. The more important points were surrounded by barbed wire. A number of positions were chosen for artillery, with a firing range marked off in advance. About sixty guns were placed behind cover on the open squares and at the more important street-crossings. Canals, gardens; walls, fences and houses were fortified. Trenches were dug in the suburbs and along the Neva. The whole southern part of the city was transformed into a fortress. Barricades were raised on many of the streets and squares." (218)
General Vemrenko's army failed in their efforts to cut the vital railway from Tosno to Moscow allowing the Red Army to freely reinforce Petrograd. The 15th Red Army struck from Pskov to Luga, threatening the White right flank and centre. The 7th Red Army now reorganised and reinforced by thousands of Red Guards raised from inside the city pressed westward against the White left and centre. Their combined strength, at least 73,000, forced the Whites back to their original starting point at Narva. (219)
In March, 1919, Admiral Alexander Kolchak captured Ufa and was posing a threat to Kazan and Samara. However, his acts of repression had resulted in the formation of Western Siberian Peasants' Red Army. The Red Army, led by Mikhail Frunze, also made advances and entered Omsk in November, 1919. Kolchak fled eastwards and was promised safe passage by the Czechoslovaks to the British military mission in Irkutsk. However, he was handed over to the Socialist Revolutionaries. He appeared before a five man commission between 21st January and 6th February. At the end of the hearing he was sentenced to death and executed. (220)
Another outstanding Red military commander was Nestor Makhno, an anarchist from the Ukraine. According to Victor Serge: "Nestor Makhno, boozing, swashbuckling, disorderly and idealistic, proved himself to be a born strategist of unsurpassed ability. The number of soldiers under his command ran at times into several tens of thousands. His arms he took from the enemy. Sometimes his insurgents marched into battle with one rifle for every two or three men: a rifle which, if any soldier fell, would pass at once from his still-dying hands into those of his alive and waiting neighbour." (221)
The Red Army continued to grow and now had over 500,000 soldiers in its ranks. This included over 40,000 officers who had served under Nicholas II. This was an unpopular decision with many Bolsheviks who feared that given the opportunity, they would betray their own troops. Trotsky tried to overcome this problem by imposing a strict system of punishment for those who were judged to be disloyal. "The Red army had in its service thousands, and, later on, tens of thousands of old officers. In their own words many of them only two years before had thought of moderate liberals as extreme revolutionaries." (222)
In February 1920, General Peter Wrangel was dismissed for conspiring against General Anton Denikin. However, two months later, he was recalled and was given command of the White Army in the Crimea. During this period he recognized and established relations with the new anti-Bolshevik independent republics of Ukraine and Georgia and established a coalition government which attempted to institute progressive land reforms. (223)
Inessa Armand contracted cholera and died at the age of forty-six on 24th September 1920. Angelica Balabanoff recorded that: "Lenin was utterly broken by her death... He was plunged in despair, his cap down over his eyes; small as he was, he seemed to shrink and grow smaller. He looked pitiful and broken in spirit. I never saw him look like that before." Alexandra Kollontai added: "He was not able to go on living after Inessa Armand. The death of Inessa hastened the development of the sickness which was to destroy him."
During the Civil War the government decided to introduce what became known as War Communism. All companies were now nationalized and the government now decided what should be produced. The government also had the power to force men and women to work in certain industries. Soldiers were also sent into rural areas to requisition grain and vegetables. The peasants responded to this by cutting down the sown area. There were also peasant risings in 1920-1 in the Volga basin and Siberia.
Sally J. Taylor, the author of Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty (1990) has argued: "War Communism, as it was called, came to rely more and more upon repression and outright violence as the main methods of securing meat and grain from the peasants. Essentials like salt, kerosene, and matches were in short supply; important manufactured goods, such as boots and farming implements, were not forthcoming. With few rewards for their labor, the peasants showed little interest in growing more than what their immediate needs required. Now a ruinous drought in the grain-growing districts added to the misfortunes of the already depleted countryside, and the entire nation lay exhausted, in a state of virtual collapse." (224)
Clare Sheridan, the British artist, met Lenin for the first time on 7th October, 1920. She later recalled in her book, Russian Portraits (1921): "Lenin was sitting at his desk. He rose and came across the room to greet me. He has a genial manner and a kindly smile, which puts one instantly at ease. He said that he had heard of me from Kamenev. I apologised for having to bother him. He laughed and explained that the last sculptor had occupied his room for weeks, and that he got so bored with it that he had sworn that it never should happen again. He asked how long I needed, and offered me today and tomorrow from 11 till 4, and three or four evenings, if I could work by electric light. When I told him I worked quickly and should probably not require so much, he said laughingly that he was pleased."
During the session Lenin expressed his dislike of her cousin Winston Churchill: "I asked if Winston was the most hated Englishman. He shrugged his shoulders, and then added something about Churchill being the man with all the force of the capitalists behind him. We argued about that, but he did not want to hear my opinion, his own being quite unshakeable. He talked about Winston being my cousin, and I said rather apologetically that I could not help it, and informed him that I had another cousin who was a Sinn Feiner. He laughed, and said That must be a cheerful party when you three get together. I suppose it would be cheerful, but we have never all three been together! During these four hours he never smoked, and never even drank a cup of tea. I have never worked so long on end before, and at 3.45 I could hold out no longer. I was blind with weariness and hunger, and said good-bye. He promised to sit on the revolving stand tomorrow. If all goes well, I think I ought to be able to finish him. I do hope it is good. I think it looks more like him than any of the busts I have seen yet. He has a curious Slav face, and looks very ill." (225)
On 12th October, 1920, the Bolsheviks signed a peace agreement with Poland. On hearing the news General Peter Wrangel issued the following order: "The Polish Army which has been fighting side by side with us against the common enemy of liberty and order has just laid down its arms and signed a preliminary peace with the oppressors and traitors who designate themselves the Soviet Government of Russia. We are now alone in the struggle which will decide the fate not only of our country but of the whole of humanity. Let us strive to free our native land from the yoke of these Red scum who recognize neither God nor country, who bring confusion and shame in their wake. By delivering Russia over to pillage and ruin, these infidels hope to start a world-wide conflagration." (226)
Leon Trotsky was now able to transfer the majority of their combat troops against the southern Whites. Nestor Makhno contributed a brigade from his insurgent army, the majority mounted on horses. In all, there were 188,000 infantry, cavalry and engineers with 3,000 machine-guns, 600 artillery pieces and 23 armoured trains. General Wrangel's army consisted of 23,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalry. (227)
Wrangel was able to hold out for six months but defeat was inevitable. On 11th November, 1920, he ordered his troops to disengage and fall back to the assigned ports for evacuation from the Crimean ports at Eupatoria, Sevastopol, Yalta, Theodosia and Kerch. It is believed that 126 ships had been commandeered to take 145,693 members of the White Army into exile.
David Bullock, the author of The Russian Civil War (2008) has argued that no one has been able to calculate accurately the cost in human life attributable to the Civil War. "Reasoned estimates have placed the number of dead from battle and disease in the Red Army as low as 425,000 and as high as 1,213,000. Numbers for their opponents range from 325,000 to 1,287,000." Another 200,000-400,000 died in prison or were executed as a result of the "Red Terror". A further 50,000 may have been victims of the corresponding "White Terror". Another 5 million are believed to have died in the ensuing famines of 1921-1922, directly caused by the economic disruption of the war. Bullock concludes that in total between 7 and 14 million died as a result of the Russian Civil War. (228)
The Kronstadt sailors played an important role in the Russian Revolution. However, by 1921 the Kronstadt sailors had become disillusioned with the Bolshevik government. They were angry about the lack of democracy, the Red Terror and the policy of War Communism. The Soviet historian, David Shub, has argued: "On 1 March 1921, the sailors of Kronstadt revolted against Lenin. Mass meetings of 15,000 men from various ships and garrisons passed resolutions demanding immediate new elections to the Soviet by secret ballot; freedom of speech and the press for all left-wing Socialist parties; freedom of assembly for trade unions and peasant organizations; abolition of Communist political agencies in the Army and Navy; immediate withdrawal of all grain requisitioning squads, and re-establishment of a free market for the peasants." (229)
On 28th February, 1921, the crew of the battleship, Petropavlovsk, passed a resolution calling for a return of full political freedoms. It was reported by Radio Moscow: that the sailors were supporters of the White Army: "Just like other White Guard insurrections, the mutiny of General Kozlovsky and the crew of the battleship Petropavlovsk has been organised by Entente spies. The French counter espionage is mixed up in the whole affair. History is repeating itself. The Socialist Revolutionaries, who have their headquarters in Paris, are preparing the ground for an insurrection against the Soviet power." (230)
I response to this broadcast the Kronstadt sailors issued the following statement: "Comrade workers, red soldiers and sailors. We stand for the power of the Soviets and not that of the parties. We are for free representation of all who toil. Comrades, you are being misled. At Kronstadt all power is in the hands of the revolutionary sailors, of red soldiers and of workers. It is not in the hands of White Guards, allegedly headed by a General Kozlovsky, as Moscow Radio tells you." (231)
Eugene Lyons, the author of Workers’ Paradise Lost: Fifty Years of Soviet Communism: A Balance Sheet (1967), pointed out that this protest was highly significant because of Kronstadt's revolutionary past: "The hundreds of large and small uprisings throughout the country are too numerous to list, let alone describe here. The most dramatic of them, in Kronstadt, epitomizes most of them. What gave it a dimension of supreme drama was the fact that the sailors of Kronstadt, an island naval fortress near Petrograd, on the Gulf of Finland, had been one of the main supports of the putsch. Now Kronstadt became the symbol of the bankruptcy of the Revolution. The sailors on the battleships and in the naval garrisons were in the final analysis peasants and workers in uniform." (232)
Lenin denounced the Kronstadt Uprising as a plot instigated by the White Army and their European supporters. However, in private he realised that he was under attack from the left. He was particularly concerned by the "scene of the rising was Kronstadt, the Bolshevik stronghold of 1917". Isaac Deutscher claims that Lenin commented: "This was the flash which lit up reality better than anything else." (233)
On 6th March, 1921, Leon Trotsky issued a statement: "I order all those who have raised a hand against the Socialist Fatherland, immediately to lay down their weapons. Those who resist will be disarmed and put at the disposal of the Soviet Command. The arrested commissars and other representatives of the Government must be freed immediately. Only those who surrender unconditionally will be able to count on the clemency of the Soviet Republic." (234)
Trotsky then ordered the Red Army to attack the Kronstadt sailors. According to one official report, some members of the Red Army refused to attack the naval base. "At the beginning of the operation the second battalion had refused to march. With much difficulty and thanks to the presence of communists, it was persuaded to venture on the ice. As soon as it reached the first south battery, a company of the 2nd battalion surrendered. The officers had to return alone." (235)
Felix Dzerzhinsky, the head of Cheka, was also involved in putting down the uprising, as the loyalty of the Red Army soldiers were in doubt. Victor Serge pointed out: "Lacking any qualified officers, the Kronstadt sailors did not know how to employ their artillery; there was, it is true, a former officer named Kozlovsky among them, but he did little and exercised no authority. Some of the rebels managed to reach Finland. Others put up a furious resistance, fort to fort and street to street.... Hundreds of prisoners were taken away to Petrograd and handed to the Cheka; months later they were still being shot in small batches, a senseless and criminal agony. Those defeated sailors belonged body and soul to the Revolution; they had voiced the suffering and the will of the Russian people. This protracted massacre was either supervised or permitted by Dzerzhinsky." (236)
Some observers claimed that many of the victims would die shouting, "Long live the Communist International!" and "Long live the Constituent Assembly!" It was not until the 17th March that government forces were able to take control of Kronstadt. Alexander Berkman, wrote: "Kronstadt has fallen today. Thousands of sailors and workers lie dead in its streets. Summary execution of prisoners and hostages continues." (237)
An estimated 8,000 people (sailors and civilians) left Kronstadt and went to live in Finland. Official figures suggest that 527 people were killed and 4,127 were wounded. "These figures do not include the drowned, or the numerous wounded left to die on the ice. Nor do they include the victims of the Revolutionary Tribunals." Historians who have studied the uprising believe that the total number of casualties was much higher than this. It is claimed that over 500 sailors at Kronstadt were executed for their part in the rebellion. (238)
Nikolai Sukhanov reminded Leon Trotsky that three years previously he had told the people of Petrograd: "We shall conduct the work of the Petrograd Soviet in a spirit of lawfulness and of full freedom for all parties. The hand of the Presidium will never lend itself to the suppression of the minority." Trotsky lapsed into silence for a while, then said wistfully: "Those were good days." Walter Krivitsky, who was a Cheka agent during this period claimed that when Trotsky put down the Kronstadt Uprising the Bolshevik government lost contact with the revolution and from then on it would be a path of state terror and dictatorial rule. (239)
Alexander Berkman decided to leave the Soviet Union after the Kronstadt Rising: "Grey are the passing days. One by one the embers of hope have died out. Terror and despotism have crushed the life born in October. The slogans of the Revolution are forsworn, its ideals stifled in the blood of the people. The breath of yesterday is dooming millions to death; the shadow of today hangs like a black pall over the country. Dictatorship is trampling the masses under foot. The Revolution is dead; its spirit cries in the wilderness.... I have decided to leave Russia." (240)
Leon Trotsky later blamed Nestor Makhno and the anarchists for the uprising. "Makhno... was a mixture of fanatic and adventurer. He became the concentration of the very tendencies which brought about the Kronstadt Uprising. Makhno created a cavalry of peasants who supplied their own horses. They were not downtrodden village poor whom the October Revolution first awakened, but the strong and well-fed peasants who were afraid of losing what they had. The anarchist ideas of Makhno (the ignoring of the State, non-recognition of the central power) corresponded to the spirit of the kulak cavalry as nothing else could. I should add that the hatred of the city and the city worker on the part of the followers of Makhno was complemented by the militant anti-Semitism." (241)
Trotsky also accused Felix Dzerzhinsky of being responsible for the massacre: "The truth of the matter is that I personally did not participate in the least in the suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion, nor in the repressions following the suppression. In my eyes this very fact is of no political significance. I was a member of the government, I considered the quelling of the rebellion necessary and therefore bear responsibility for the suppression. Concerning the repressions, as far as I remember, Dzerzhinsky had personal charge of them and Dzerzhinsky could not tolerate anyone's interference with his functions (and properly so). Whether there were any needless victims I do not know. On this score I trust Dzerzhinsky more than his belated critics." (242)
In 1921 Lenin became concerned with the activities of Alexandra Kollontai and Alexander Shlyapnikov, the leaders of the Workers' Opposition group. In 1921 Kollantai published a pamphlet The Workers' Opposition, where she called for members of the party to be allowed to discuss policy issues and for more political freedom for trade unionists. She also advocated that before the government attempts to "rid Soviet institutions of the bureaucracy that lurks within them, the Party must first rid itself of its own bureaucracy." (243)
The group also published a statement on future policy: "A complete change is necessary in the policies of the government. First of all, the workers and peasants need freedom. They don't want to live by the decrees of the Bolsheviks; they want to control their own destinies. Comrades, preserve revolutionary order! Determinedly and in an organized manner demand: liberation of all arrested Socialists and non-partisan working-men; abolition of martial law; freedom of speech, press and assembly for all who labour." (244)
At the Tenth Party Congress in April 1922, Lenin proposed a resolution that would ban all factions within the party. He argued that factions within the party were "harmful" and encouraged rebellions such as the Kronstadt Rising. The Party Congress agreed with Lenin and the Workers' Opposition was dissolved. Stalin was appointed as General Secretary and was now given the task of dealing with the "factions and cliques" in the Communist Party. (245)
Stalin's main opponents for the future leadership of the party failed to see the importance of this position and actually supported his nomination. They initially saw the post of General Secretary as being no more that "Lenin's mouthpiece". According to Edvard Radzinsky, the author of Stalin (1996): "Factionalism became punishable by expulsion. Lenin sought to stifle the very possibility of opposition. The wording of this resolution, unthinkable in a democratic party, grated on the ear, and it was therefore kept secret from the public." (246)
Roy A. Medvedev, has argued in Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism (1971) that on the surface it was a strange decision: "In 1922 Stalin was the least prominent figure in the Politburo. Not only Lenin but also Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, and A. I. Rykov were much more popular among the broad masses of the Party than Stalin. Close-mouthed and reserved in everyday affairs, Stalin was also a poor public speaker. He spoke in a low voice with a strong Caucasian accent, and found it difficult to speak without a prepared text. It is not surprising that, during the stormy years of revolution and civil war, with their ceaseless meetings, rallies, and demonstrations, the revolutionary masses saw or heard little of Stalin." (247)
Isaac Deutscher, the author of Stalin (1949) has pointed out: "The leading bodies of the party were now top-heavy; and a new office, that of the General Secretary, was created, which was to coordinate the work of their many growing and overlapping branches... Soon afterwards a latent dualism of authority began to develop at the very top of the party. The seven men who now formed the Politbureau (in addition to the previous five, Zinoviev and Tomsky had recently been elected) represented, as it were, the brain and the spirit of Bolshevism. In the offices of the General Secretariat resided the more material power of management and direction." (248)
Soon after Stalin's appointment as General Secretary, Lenin went into hospital to have a bullet removed from his body that had been there since Dora Kaplan's assassination attempt. It was hoped that this operation would restore his health. This was not to be; soon afterwards, a blood vessel broke in Lenin's brain. This left him paralyzed all down his right side and for a time he was unable to speak. As "Lenin's mouthpiece", Joseph Stalin had suddenly become extremely important. (249)
While Lenin was immobilized, Stalin made full use of his powers as General Secretary. At the Party Congress he had been granted permission to expel "unsatisfactory" party members. This enabled Stalin to remove thousands of supporters of Leon Trotsky, his main rival for the leadership of the party. As General Secretary, Stalin also had the power to appoint and sack people from important positions in the government. The new holders of these posts were fully aware that they owed their promotion to Stalin. They also knew that if their behaviour did not please him they would be replaced.
Surrounded by his supporters, Stalin's confidence began to grow. In October, 1922, he disagreed with Lenin over the issue of foreign trade. When the matter was discussed at Central Committee, Stalin's rather than Lenin's policy was accepted. Lenin began to fear that Stalin was taking over the leadership of the party. Lenin wrote to Trotsky asking for his support. Trotsky agreed and at the next meeting of the Central Committee the decision on foreign trade was reversed. Lenin, who was too ill to attend, wrote to Trotsky congratulating him on his success and suggesting that in future they should work together against Stalin.
Joseph Stalin, whose wife Nadya Alliluyeva worked in Lenin's private office, soon discovered the contents of the letter sent to Leon Trotsky. Stalin was furious as he realized that if Lenin and Trotsky worked together against him, his political career would be at an end. In a fit of temper Stalin made an abusive phone-call to Lenin's wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, accusing her of endangering Lenin's life by allowing him to write letters when he was so ill. (250)
After Krupskaya told her husband of this phone-call, Lenin made the decision that Stalin was not the man to replace him as the leader of the party. Lenin knew he was close to death so he dictated to his secretary a letter that he wanted to serve as his last "will and testament". The document was comprised of his thoughts on the senior members of the party leadership. Lenin stated: "Comrade Stalin, having become General Secretary, has concentrated enormous power in his hands: and I am not sure that he always knows how to use that power with sufficient caution. I therefore propose to our comrades to consider a means of removing Stalin from this post and appointing someone else who differs from Stalin in one weighty respect: being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite, more considerate of his comrades." (251)
A few days later Lenin added a postscript to his earlier testament: "Stalin is too rude, and this fault... becomes unbearable in the office of General Secretary. Therefore, I propose to the comrades to find a way to remove Stalin from that position and appoint to it another man... more patient, more loyal, more polite and more attentive to comrades, less capricious, etc. This circumstance may seem an insignificant trifle, but I think that from the point of view of preventing a split and from the point of view of the relations between Stalin and Trotsky... it is not a trifle, or it is such a trifle as may acquire a decisive significance." Three days after writing this testament Lenin had a third stroke. Lenin was no longer able to speak or write and although he lived for another ten months, he ceased to exist as a power within the Soviet Union. (252)
Lenin died of a heart attack on 21st January, 1924. Stalin reacted to the news by announcing that Lenin was to be embalmed and put on permanent display in a mausoleum to be erected on Red Square. Lenin's wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, immediately objected because she disliked the "quasi-religious" implications of this decision. Despite these objections, Stalin carried on with the arrangements. "Lenin, who detested hero worship and fought religion as an opiate for the people, who canonized in the interest of Soviet politics and his writings were given the character of Holy Writ." (253)
The funeral took place on 27th January, and Stalin was a pallbearer with Lev Kamenev, Gregory Zinoviev, Nickolai Bukharin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Felix Dzerzhinsky, Alexander Schottmann and Maihail Tomsky. Stalin gave a speech which ended with the words: "Leaving us, comrade Lenin left us a legacy of fidelity to the principles of the Communist International. We swear to you, comrade Lenin, that we will not spare our own lives in strengthening and broadening the union of labouring people of the whole world - the Communist International." (254)
An organization of workers must be first a trade organization; secondly, it must be as broad as possible; thirdly, it must be as little secret as possible. An organization of revolutionaries, on the contrary, must embrace primarily and chiefly people whose profession consists of revolutionary activity.
In an autocratic country, the more we narrow the membership of such an organization, restricting it only to those who are professionally engaged in revolutionary activities and have received a professional training in the art of struggle against the political police, the more difficult will it be to catch such an organization.
I was looking to see the mountain eagle of our fatherland, a great man; great not only in the political sense, but physically: a tall, big man; for in my youthful enthusiasm I imagined him a giant, a man of martial bearing. I saw a most ordinary looking person, rather shorter than myself - and I am only of medium stature - a man absolutely indistinguishable in any respect whatsoever from the ordinary run of mortals.
When we were introduced, he shook me heartily by the hand, and scrutinizing me with his keen eyes and speaking in the tone of an old acquaintance, he said jocularly: "So glad you've come, believe you're fond of a scrap? There's going to be a fine old scuffle here."
I did not expect Lenin to be like that. Something was lacking in him. He rolled his r's gutturally, and had a jaunty way of standing with his hands somehow poked up under his armpits. He was somehow too ordinary, did not give the impression of being a leader.
I hold you in great esteem, moreover, I like you as a person. But you know, you are very naive in your relationship with people, and your judgment of them is poor. It seems to me, at times, that everybody is for you nothing more than a flute, that you can play on it one time or another as long as it is pleasing you. You value the individual by the criterion of whether he is useful to you in realizing your aims, views and tasks.
That kind of measure will by necessity create around you some kind of void. This in itself is perhaps not very important, for you are a strong individual. The main thing is that this attitude will unavoidably lead you in the making of mistakes.
We recognized Lenin's achievements. He is a man of iron will and an incomparable organizer of groups. But Lenin regards only himself as a Socialist. Whoever opposes him is forever condemned by him. War is declared on anyone who differs with him. Instead of combating his opponents in the Social Democratic Party by Socialist methods, i.e. by argument, Lenin only uses surgical methods, those of bloodletting.
Between Lenin and the Mensheviks the basic difference was more temperamental than doctrinal. The Mensheviks, like many earlier critics of Russian injustice, were idealists driven by sympathy for the masses but disinclined to conspire and fight; they admired Western democratic socialism and hoped for a peaceful and legal path to social reform once the Russian autocracy was overthrown. They were appalled by Lenin's elastic political morality and the philosophy they termed "dictatorship over the proletariat."
It is impossible to escape the very strong suspicion that Lenin's deepest motive was the drive for personal power, however he might have rationalized it. Like practically every politician Lenin had a philosophy about the welfare of the people - in his case it was the entire world proletariat-but the philosophy also said or implied that power for him and him alone was the only way this goal could be achieved. Lenin had an inordinate dislike of any sort of political cooperation or compromise, not because it might fail, but because it might succeed, and leave him with less than the whole loaf of power. He never worked honestly under or alongside anyone else, but only as the sole and unquestioned leader of his own forces, even if they had to be whittled down to meet his conditions. He was fascinated by armed force, and did not believe that any revolution worthy of the name could come about without it. "Major questions in the life of nations are settled only by force," he wrote when he was a spectator to the Revolution of 1905. "The bayonet has really become the main point on the political agenda.... insurrection has proved to be imperative and urgent - constitutional illusions and school exercises in parliamentarism become only a screen for the bourgeois betrayal of the revolution.... It is therefore the slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat that the genuinely revolutionary class must advance."
Many attempts, none very successful, have been made to explain Lenin's psychology. His childhood environment and youthful experiences, hardly exceptional for a family of the nineteenth-century Russian intelligentsia, offer only the sketchiest explanations of the demon that soon came to possess him. He was born in 1870 to a family of the lesser nobility-to be sure, the principal seedbed of the Russian revolutionary movement. His father, Ilya Ulyanov, was the Superintendent of Schools in the Volga city of Simbirsk, also the hometown, interestingly enough, of Alexander Kerensky. Lenin had some traumatic experiences -the untimely death of the father he esteemed; the execution of his older brother Alexander for complicity in an attempt on Tsar Alexander III; and his own expulsion from Kazan University because of a student demonstration. But the most abnormal thing about Lenin was his lack of abnormality among the typically eccentric and extremist Russians. He combined his natural brilliance and energy with an utterly un-Russian rigor and self-discipline which gave him an untold advantage in every political confrontation of his career. "Lenin is sheer intellect-he is absorbed, cold, unattractive, impatient at interruption," wrote John Reed's wife when she met the Bolshevik chief just after the Revolution. In another society Lenin would have risen to Grand Vizier or Corporation Counsel. In fact he did start a legal career in St. Petersburg, in 1893, before the encounter with a circle of Marxist agitators including his future wife Nadezhda Krupskaya finally committed him to the Marxist revolutionary movement.
Most people were either repelled or spellbound by Lenin. He was endowed with an unbelievably vituperative vocabulary, that made most mortals helpless to oppose him within his own camp - they yielded or left. His extremism attracted many revolutionary romantics of independent mind but none of them were at ease in what Trotsky once called the "barrack regime" of the Bolshevik Party. Lenin hated liberalism and softness and the "circle spirit" of impractical discussion. "Nothing was so repugnant to Lenin," Trotsky recalled, "as the slightest suspicion of sentimentality and psychological weakness." Lenin hated the "spontaneity" of social movements without conscious leadership, and he hated the "opportunism" and "tail-end-ism" of people who went along with such movements. His life was consumed with hatred, and hatred of his rivals for the future of Russia almost more than the old regime. He wrote scarcely anything that was not aimed immediately to abuse an opponent, and usually a democratic and socialist opponent at that.
During the transition from Capitalism to Communism suppression is still necessary; but it is now the suppression of the exploiting minority by the exploited majority. A special apparatus, a special machine for suppression, the state, is still necessary, but it is now a transitory state; it is no longer a state in the proper sense; for the suppression of the minority of exploiters by the majority of the wage-slaves of yesterday is comparatively so easy, simple and natural a task that it will entail far less bloodshed than the suppression of the risings of slaves, serfs or wage labourers, and it will cost mankind far less.
Finally, only Communism makes the state absolutely unnecessary, for there is nobody to be suppressed - nobody in the sense of a class, in the sense of a systematic struggle against a definite section of the population. We are not utopians, and we do not in the least deny the possibility and inevitability of excesses on the part of individual persons, or the need to suppress such excesses. But, in the first place, no special machine, no special apparatus of repression is needed for this, this will be done by the armed people itself.
Lenin, leader of the extreme faction of the Social Democrats, arrived here on Monday night by way of Germany. His action in accepting from the German government a passage from Switzerland through Germany arouses intense indignation here. He has come back breathing fire, and demanding the immediate and unconditional conclusions of peace, civil war against the army and government, and vengeance on Kerensky and Chkheidze, whom he describes as traitors to the cause of International Socialism. At the meeting of Social Democrats yesterday his wild rant was received in dead silence, and he was vigorously attacked, not only by the more moderate Social Democrats, but by members of his own faction.
Lenin was left absolutely without supporters. The sharp repulse given to this firebrand was a healthy sign of the growth of practical sense of the Socialist wing, and the generally moderate and sensible tone of the conference of provincial workers' and soldiers' deputies was another hopeful indication of the passing of the revolutionary fever.
There then rose upon the tribune a man whose name has been on all lips for many weeks past - Lenin. He is a short man with a round head, small pig-like eyes, and close-cropped hair. The words poured from his mouth, overwhelming all in a flood of oratory. One sat spellbound at his command of language and the passion of his denunciation. But when it was all over one felt inclined to scratch one's head and ask what it was all about.
Without losing a single moment, organize the staff of the insurrectionary detachments; designate the forces; move the loyal regiments to the most important points; surround the Alexandrinsky Theater (i.e., the Democratic Conference); occupy the Peter-Paul fortress; arrest the general staff and the government; move against the military cadets, the Savage Division, etc., such detachments as will die rather than allow the enemy to move to the center of the city; we must mobilize the armed workers, call them to a last desperate battle, occupy at once the telegraph and telephone stations, place our staff of the uprising at the central telephone station, connect it by wire with all the factories, the regiments, the points of armed fighting, etc.
The fourth year's campaign will mean the annihilation of the army and the country. There is a danger for the safety of Petrograd. Counter-revolutionaries rejoice in the people's misfortunes. The Kerensky Government is against the people. He will destroy the country. This paper stands for the people and by the people - the poor classes, workers, soldiers and peasants. The people can only be saved by the completion of the revolution and for this purpose the full power must be in the hands of the Soviets.
I will cite here the most characteristic passage from a whole series of articles published in Rabochi Put by Lenin, a state criminal who is in hiding and whom we are trying to find. This state criminal has invited the proletariat and the Petrograd garrison to repeat the experience of 16-18 July, and insists upon the immediate necessity for an armed rising. Moreover, other Bolshevik leaders have taken the floor in a series of meetings, and also made an appeal to immediate insurrection. Particularly should be noticed the activity of the present president of the Petrograd Soviet, Trotsky.
The policy of the Bolsheviki is demagogic and criminal, in their exploitation of the popular discontent. But there is a whole series of popular demands which have received no satisfaction up to now. The question of peace, land, and the democratization of the army ought to be stated in such a fashion that no soldier, peasant, or worker would have the least doubt that our Government is attempting, firmly and infallibly, to solve them.
I am writing these lines on the evening of November 6th. The situation is critical in the extreme. It is absolutely clear that to delay the insurrection now will be inevitably fatal. I exhort my comrades with all my heart and strength to realize that everything now hangs by a thread, that we are being confronted by problems that cannot be solved by conferences and congresses (even Congresses of Soviets) but exclusively by the people, the masses, by the struggle of the armed masses. We must at all costs, this very evening, this very night, arrest the Government, first disarming the Junkers and so forth. We must not wait! We will lose everything! History will not forgive revolutionaries for procrastinating when they can be victorious today, while they risk losing much, in fact, everything, tomorrow.
I remember that on the morning of the second or third day after the uprising, I dropped into a room at the Smolny and found Lenin and Trotsky. With them were Dzerzhinsky, Joffe, and a crowd of others. Their faces were a greyish-green from lack of sleep; their eyes were inflamed, their collars soiled, and the room was full of smoke. It seemed to me that orders were being given as if by people who were asleep. For a moment I felt as if I were seeing it all in a dream, and that the revolution was in danger of being lost if "they" didn't get a good sleep and put on clean collars. I remember that next day I met Lenin's sister, Marya Ilinishna, and reminded her hurriedly that Lenin needed a clean collar.
All private ownership of land is abolished immediately without compensation. (2) All landowners' estates and all lands belonging to the Crown, to monasteries, church lands with all their live stock and inventoried property, buildings and appurtenances, are transferred to the disposition of the township Land Committees and the district Soviets of Peasants' Deputies until the Constituent Assembly meets.
The suppression of the bourgeois press was dictated not only by purely military needs in the course of the insurrection, and for the checking of counter-revolutionary action, but it is also necessary as a measure of transition toward the establishment of a new regime with regard to the press.
The re-establishment of the so-called "freedom of the press", the simple return of printing presses and paper to the capitalists - poisoners of the mind of the people - this would be an inadmissible surrender to the will of capital, a giving up of one of the most important conquests of the Revolution.
Lenin and Trotsky and their followers already have been poisoned by the rotten venom of power. The proof of this is their attitude toward freedom of speech and of person and toward all the ideals for which democracy was fighting. Blind fanatics and conscienceless adventurers are rushing at full speed on the road on the road to a social revolution - in actuality, it is a road toward anarchy.
Lenin and Trotsky and all who follow them are dishonoring the Revolution, and the working-class. Imagining themselves Napoleons of socialism. The proletariat is for Lenin the same as iron ore is for a metallurgist. It is possible, taking into consideration the present conditions, to cast out of this ore a socialist state? Obviously this is impossible. Conscious workers who follow Lenin must understand that a pitiless experiment is being carried out with the Russian people which is going to destroy the best forces of the workers, and which will stop the normal growth of the Russian Revolution for a long time.
It was obvious that going on with the war was impossible. On this point there was not even a shadow of disagreement between Lenin and me. But there was another question. How had the February revolution, and, later on, the October revolution, affected the German army? How soon would any effect show itself? To these questions no answer could as yet be given. We had to try and find it in the course of the negotiations as long as we could. It was necessary to give the European workers time to absorb properly the very fact of the Soviet revolution.
We must change our policy. Military action on our part would not be able to save the revolution in Finland, but it would most certainly ruin us. We will help the Finnish workers in every way we can, but we must do it without abandoning peace. I am not sure that this will save us now. But at any rate it is the only way in which salvation is still possible.
On 21st February, we received new terms from Germany, framed, apparently, with the direct object of making the signing of peace impossible. By the time our delegation returned to Brest-Litovsk, these terms, as is well known, had been made even harsher. All of us, including Lenin, were of the impression that the Germans had come to an agreement with the Allies about crushing the Soviets, and that a peace on the western front was to be built on the bones of the Russian revolution.
On 3rd March our delegation signed the peace treaty without even reading it. Forestalling many of the ideas of Clemenceau, the Brest-Litovsk peace was like the hangman's noose. On 22nd March the treaty was ratified by the German Reichstag. The German Social Democrats gave their approval in advance to the future principles of Versailles.
Lenin himself was considered a man of robust health, and this health seemed to be one of the indestructible pillars of the revolution. He was always active, alert, even-tempered and gay. Only occasionally did I notice alarming symptoms. During the First Congress of the communist International, he surprised me with his tired look, the unevenness of his voice, and the sick man's smile.
Lenin was wearing one of his old jackets dating back to the emigration, perhaps brought back from Zurich; I saw it on him in all seasons. Practically bald, his cranium high and bulging, his forehead strong, he had commonplace features: an amazingly fresh and pink face, a little reddish beard, slightly jutting cheek-bones, eyes horizontal but apparently slanted because of the laughter-lines, a grey-green gaze at people, and a surpassing air of geniality and cheerful malice.
In the Kremlin he still occupied a small apartment built for a palace servant. In the recent winter he, like everyone else, had no heating. When he went to the barber's he took his turn, thinking it unseemly for anyone to give way to him. An old housekeeper looked after his rooms and did his mending.
His manners and behaviour betrayed not the slightest inkling of any taste for authority; what showed through was only the urgency of the devoted technician who wants the work to be done, and done quickly and well.
He was neither a great orator nor a first-rate lecturer. He employed no rhetoric and sought no demagogical effects. His vocabulary was that of a newspaper article, and his technique included diverse forms of repetition, all with the aim of a driving in ideas thoroughly, as one drives in a nail. He was never boring, on account of his mimic's liveliness and the reasoned conviction which drove him.
Lenin is an interesting figure. It is absurd to regard him as a mere German agent. I imagine that in pursuit of his ends Lenin is willing to use all available means, and if the Germans like to supply money or officers for the purpose of effecting a social revolution in Russia he gladly accepts even their services.
Mere money for his personal use could not tempt such a man. He is utterly headstrong, oblivious of realities, oblivious of what he regards as bourgeois morality, oblivious of immediate consequences. He sees only his goal, the complete and forcible establishment of Socialism in Russia.
Many people trembled when the name of the dictator was mentioned. But in dirty little offices sat little grey bureaucrats who changed Lenin's speeches when they feared he had spoken too dangerously, and in other dirty little offices sat military political police officials who bragged that they would arrest the man if he acted too dangerously.
When we said to the censors, " Lenin himself said this," they laughed. When it served their purposes they added or deleted, and sometimes they suppressed Lenin entirely. When it pleased them they arranged interviews, but for years they did their best to keep the " capitalist" journalists out of Lenin's sight. We heard him, however, at all the big congresses.
He spoke with a thick, throaty, wet voice. He was in very good humour, always smiling, his face never was hard. All his pictures are hard but he was always twinkling with laughter. Eyes bright, crowsfeet, a real, unserious face. He had a clever motion of the hand by which he could emphasize a point and yet steal a look at the time on his wrist watch. Frequently he pointed with both index fingers, upwards, shoulder high, like the conventional picture of a Chinese dancer.
He was dressed in a cheap grey semi-military uniform, a civilian transplanted into ill-fitting army-issue clothes. They were grey-black but the crease in the trousers was already giving because there is too much shoddy in the wool. The tunic, which is high like the American doughboy's, was open at the neck revealing a flannel shirt and a bright blue necktie, loosely tied. His eyes were not half as oriental as the photographs have made him, because he has full eyebrows, not merely stubs at the nose, which the pictures emphasize.
He reported on foreign and domestic affairs. He never hesitated to acknowledge defeats and failures. But he was always optimistic. My disillusion was profound. I wondered how this man, who has so little magnetism, had come to the fore in a radical environment where spell-binding oratory, silver-tongued climaxes, soap-box repartee, have been the road to success. Only once did he aim to produce a laugh, and even that had his touch of irony. "We have pruned and pruned our bureaucracy," he said, "and after four years we have taken a census of our government staff and we have an increase of 12,000."
Lenin had the greatness and the human, all-too-human sympathy to be a comrade to all, the group of fellow dictators and the peasants who loved him. In battle with his enemies he was uncompromising and without pity. He hated power, knowing its corruption. His political wisdom was great; he understood mob psychology thoroughly but was a little weak in his grasp of individual psychology; he never made a mistake in dealing with the masses but he frequently did in choosing men to share power.
Lenin arrived alone; no one escorted him and no one formed a reception party. When he came out, workers surrounded him for a moment a few paces from his car. It was at this moment Kaplan fired at him, three times, wounding him seriously in the neck and shoulder. Lenin was driven back to the Kremlin by his chauffeur, and just had the strength to walk upstairs in silence to the second floor: then he fell in pain. There was great anxiety for him: the wound in the neck could have proved extremely serious; for a while it was thought that he was dying. The wounded man's own strength carried him through. Lenin was back on his feet in around ten days.
My name is Fanya Kaplan. Today I shot at Lenin. I did it on my own. I will not say whom I obtained my revolver. I will give no details. I had resolved to kill Lenin long ago. I consider him a traitor to the Revolution. I was exiled to Akatoi for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev. I spent eleven years at hard labour. After the Revolution I was freed. I favoured the Constituent Assembly and am still for it.
Lenin was impatient with my liberalism, but he had shown himself a liberal by instinct. He had defended liberty of speech, assembly, and the Russian press for some five to seven months after the October revolution which put him in power. The people had stopped talking; they were for action on the program. But the plottings of the whites, the distracting debates and criticisms of the various shades of reds, the wild conspiracies and the violence of 'the anarchists against Bolshevik socialism, developed an extreme left in Lenin's party which proposed to proceed directly to the terror which the people were ready for. Lenin held out against them till he was shot, and even then, when he was in hospital, he pleaded for the life of the woman who shot him.
I referred to this, and he acknowledged it and said: "It was no use. It is no use. There will be a terror. It hurts the revolution both inside and out, and we must find out how to avoid or control or direct it. But we have to know more about psychology than we do now to steer through that madness. And it serves a purpose that has to be served. There must be in a revolution, as in a war, unified action, and in a revolution more than in a war the contented people will scuttle your ship if you don't deal with them. There are white terrors, too, you know. Look at Finland and Hungary. We have to devise some way to get rid of the bourgeoisie, the upper classes. They won't let you make economic changes during a revolution any more than they will before one; so they must be driven out. I don't see, myself, why we can't scare them away without killing them. Of course they are a menace outside as well as in, but the emigres are not so bad. The only solution I see is to have the threat of a red terror spread the fear and let them escape. But however it is done, it has to be done. The absolute, instinctive opposition of the old conservatives and even of the fixed liberals has to be silenced if you are to carry through a revolution to its objective."
He foresaw trouble with the fixed minds of the peasants, their hard conservatism, and his remark reminded me of the land problem. They were giving the peasants land? "Not by law," he said. "But they think they own the land; so they do."
He took a piece of paper and a pencil. "We are all wrong on the land," he said, and the thought of Wilson flashed to my mind. Could the American say he was all wrong like that? "Look," said Lenin, and he drew a straight line. "That's our course, but"- he struck off a crooked line to a point "that's where we are. That's where we have had to go, but we'll get back here on our course some day." He paralleled the straight line.
That is the advantage of a plan. You can go wrong, you can tack, as you must, but if you know you are wrong, you can steer back on your course. Wilson, the American liberal, having justified his tackings, forgot his course. To keep himself right, he had changed his mind to follow his actions till he could call the peace of Versailles right. Lenin was a navigator, the other a mere sailor.
There was more of this rapid interview, but not words. When I came out of it, I found that I had fertile ideas in my head and an attitude which grew upon me. Events, both in Russia and out, seemed to have a key that was useful, for example, in Fascist Italy, in Paris, and at home in the United States. Our return from Moscow was less playful than the coming. Bullitt was serious. Captain Petit was interesting on the hunger and the other sufferings of Petrograd, but not depressed as he would have been in New York or London. "London's is an old race misery," he said. "Petrograd is a temporary condition of evil, which is made tolerable by hope and a plan." Arthur Ransome, the English correspondent of the Manchester Guardian, came out with us. He had been years in Russia, spoke Russian, and had spent the last winter in Moscow with the government leaders and among the people. He had the new point of view. He said and he showed that Shakespeare looked different after Russia, and, unlike some other authors, still true. Our journey home was a course of intellectual digestion; we were all enjoying a mental revolution which corresponded somewhat with the Russian Revolution and gave us the sense of looking ahead.
7th October, 1920: Michael Borodin accompanied me to the Kremlin. On the way he said to me: "Just remember that you are going to do the best bit of work today that you have ever done." I was anxious, rather, about the conditions of the room and the light.
We went in by a special door, guarded by a sentry, and on the third floor we went through several doors and passages, each guarded. As I was expected, the sentries had received orders to let me pass. Finally, we went through two rooms full of women secretaries. The last room contained about five women at five tables, and they all looked at me curiously, but they knew my errand. Here Michael handed me over to a little hunchback, Lenin's private secretary, and left me. She pointed to a white baize door, and I went through. It did not latch, but merely swung behind me.
Lenin was sitting at his desk. He rose and came across the room to greet me. He has a genial manner and a kindly smile, which puts one instantly at ease. He said that he had heard of me from Kamenev. I apologised for having to bother him. He laughed and explained that the last sculptor had occupied his room for weeks, and that he got so bored with it that he had sworn that it never should happen again. He asked how long I needed, and offered me today and tomorrow from 11 till 4, and three or four evenings, if I could work by electric light. When I told him I worked quickly and should probably not require so much, he said laughingly that he was pleased.
My stand and things were then brought into the room by three soldiers, and I established myself on the left. It was hard work, for he was lower than the clay and did not revolve, nor did he keep still. But the room was so peaceful, and he on the whole took so little notice of me, that I worked with great calm till 3.45, without stopping for rest or food.
During that time he had but one interview, but the telephone was of great assistance to me. When the low buzz, accompanied by the lighting up of a small electric bulb, signified a telephone call, his face lost the dullness of repose and became animated and interesting. He gesticulated to the telephone as though it understood.
I remarked on the comparative stillness of his room, and he laughed. "Wait till there is a political discussion!" he said.
Secretaries came in at intervals with letters. He opened them, signed the empty envelope, and gave it back, a form of receipt I suppose. Some papers were brought him to sign, and he signed, but whilst looking at something else instead of at his signature.
I asked him why he had women secretaries. He said because all the men were at the war, and that caused us to talk of Poland. I understood that peace with Poland had been signed yesterday, but he says not, that forces are at work trying to upset the negotiations, and that the position is very grave.
"Besides," he said, "when we have settled Poland, we have got Wrangel." I asked if Wrangel was negligible, and he said that Wrangel counted quite a bit, which is a different attitude from that adopted by the other Russians I have met, who have laughed scornfully at the idea of Wrangel.
We talked about H. G. Wells, and he said that the only book of his he had read was Joan and Peter, but that he had not read it to the end. He liked the description at the beginning of the English intellectual bourgeois life. He admitted that he should have read, and regretted not having read, some of the earlier fantastic novels about wars in the air and the world set free. I am told that Lenin manages to get through a good deal of reading. On his desk was a volume by Chiozza Money. He asked me if I had had any trouble in getting through to his room, and I explained that Borodin had accompanied me. I then had the face to suggest that Borodin, being an extremely intelligent man who can speak good English, would make a good Ambassador to England when there is peace. Lenin looked at me with the most amused expression, his eyes seemed to see right through me, and then said: "That would please Monsieur Churchill wouldn't it?" I asked if Winston was the most hated Englishman. He shrugged his shoulders, and then added
something about Churchill being the man with all the force of the capitalists behind him. We argued about that, but he did not want to hear my opinion, his own being quite unshakeable. He talked about Winston being my cousin, and I said rather apologetically that I could not help it, and informed him that I had another cousin who was a Sinn Feiner. He laughed, and said "That must be a cheerful party when you three get together." I suppose it would be cheerful, but we have never all three been together!
During these four hours he never smoked, and never even drank a cup of tea. I have never worked so long on end before, and at 3.45 I could hold out no longer. I was blind with weariness and hunger, and said good-bye. He promised to sit on the revolving stand tomorrow. If all goes well, I think I ought to be able to finish him. I do hope it is good. I think it looks more like him than any of the busts I have seen yet. He has a curious Slav face, and looks very ill.
When I asked for news of England, he offered me the three latest Daily Heralds he had, dated September 21, 22 and 23. I brought them back and we all fell upon them, Russians and American alike. As for me, I have spent a blissful evening reading about the Irish Rebellion and the Miners' dispute, as if it were yesterday's news, and the Irene Munro and Bamberger cases. Goodness, one feels as though one had looked through a window and seen home on the horizon.
8th October, 1920: Started work again in Lenin's room. I went by myself this time, and got past all the sentries with the pass that I had been given. I took my kodak with me, although I had not the necessary kodak permission. I put a coat over my arm, which hid it.
I don't know how I got through my day. I had to work on him from afar. My real chance came when a Comrade arrived for an interview, and then for the first time Lenin sat and talked facing the window, so that I was able to see his full face and in a good light.
The Comrade remained a long time, and conversation was very animated. Never did I see anyone make so many faces. Lenin laughed and frowned, and looked thoughtful, sad, and humorous all in turn. His eyebrows twitched, sometimes they went right up, and then again they puckered together maliciously.
I watched these expressions, waited, hesitated, and then made my selection with a frantic rush - it was his screwed-up look. Wonderful! No one else has such a look, it is his alone. Every now and then he seemed to be conscious of my presence, and gave a piercing, enigmatical look in my direction. If I had been a spy pretending not to understand Russian, I wonder whether I should have learnt interesting things! The Comrade, when he left the room, stopped and looked at my work, and said the only word that I understand, which is carascho, it means "good", and then said something about my having the character of the man, so I was glad.
After that Lenin consented to sit on the revolving stand. It seemed to amuse him very much. He said he never had sat so high. When I kneeled down to look at the glances from below, his face adopted an expression of surprise and embarrassment.
I laughed and asked: "Are you unaccustomed to this attitude in woman?" At that moment a secretary came in, and I cannot think why they were both so amused. They talked rapid Russian together, and laughed a good deal.
When the secretary had gone, he became serious and asked me a few questions. Did I work hard in London? I said it was my life. How many hours a day? An average of seven. He made no comment on this, but it seemed to satisfy him. Until then, I had the feeling that, although he was charming to me, he looked upon me a little resentfully as a bourgeoise. I believe that he always asks people, if he does not know them, about their work and their origin, and makes up his mind about them accordingly. I showed him photographs of some of my busts and also of "Victory". He was emphatic in not liking the "Victory", his point being that I had made it too beautiful.
I protested that the sacrifice involved made Victory beautiful, but he would not agree. "That is the fault of bourgeois art, it always beautifies."
I looked at him fiercely. "Do you accuse me of bourgeois art?"
"I accuse you!" he answered, then held up the photograph of Dick's bust. "I do not accuse you of embellishing this, but I pray you not to embellish me."
He then looked at Winston. "Is that Churchill himself? You have embellished him." He seemed to have this on the brain.
I said: "Give me a message to take back to Winston."
He answered: "I have already sent him a message through the Delegation, and he answered it not directly, but through a bitter newspaper article, in which he said I was a most horrible creature, and that our army was an army of puces. How you say puces in English? You know the French puces? Yes, that is it, an army of fleas. I did not mind what he said; I was glad. It showed that my message to him had angered him."
"When will Peace come to Russia? Will a General Election bring it?" I asked.
He said: "There is no further news of a General Election, but if Lloyd George asks for an Election it will be on anti-Bolshevism, and he may win. The Capitalists, the Court, and the military, all are behind him and Churchill."
I asked him if he were not mistaken in his estimate of the power and popularity of Winston, and the importance and influence of the Court.
He got fiery. "It is an intellectual bourgeois pose to say that the King does not count. He counts very much. He is the head of the Army. He is the bourgeois figurehead, and he represents a great deal, and Churchill is backed by him." He was so insistent, so assured, so fierce about it, that I gave up the argument.
Presently, he said to me: "What does your husband think of your coming to Russia?"
I replied that my husband was killed in the war.
"In the capitalist-imperialist war?"
I said: "In France, 1915; what other war?"
"Ah, that is true," he said. "We have had so many, the imperialist, the civil war, and the war for self-defence."
We then discussed the wonderful spirit of self-sacrifice and patriotism with which England entered upon the war in 1914, and he wanted me to read Le Feu and La Clarte of Barbusse, in which that spirit and its development is so wonderfully described.
Then the telephone gave its damnable low buzzing. He looked at his watch. He had promised me fifteen minutes on the revolving stand and given me half an hour. He got down and went to the telephone. It did not matter: I had done all I could. I had verified my measurements, and they were correct, which was a relief, and so, it being 4 o'clock and I mighty hungry, I said good-bye.
He was very pleased, said I had worked very quickly, called in his secretary and discussed it with her, said it was carascho. I asked him to give orders to have it removed to my studio, Room 31. Two soldiers arrived and carried it out. I asked Lenin for his photograph, which he sent for and signed for me.
I hurried after the two panting soldiers with their load. We passed through the rooms of the astonished secretaries, out into the corridors, past the bored and surprised sentries, and got through to the main building. Two or three times they had to pause and deposit "Lenin" on the floor, to the interest of the passers-by. At last he was safely in Room 31, and they returned to Lenin's room for the stands. It was a good long way, and they were tired and dripping with sweat when their job was done.
To my intense embarrassment, they refused money, though I offered them stacks of paper notes. They refused very amiably, but firmly. I made signs of imploration and signs of secrecy, but they laughed and just pointed to their Communist badges, and offered me their cigarettes which were precious, being rationed.
In the Testament, Lenin, as superior to his contemporaries in grasp of men as of politics, had warned the party of a probable split between Trotsky and Stalin. It was, he said, a trifle, but "a trifle as may acquire a decisive significance." Lenin believed in historical materialism but he did not underestimate the significance of individuals, and the full immensity of the consequences are visible today.
Yet, as Lenin, quite obviously saw, the immediate origin of the danger was personal. Lenin did not say so in so many words. The Testament is very carefully phrased, but all through the civil war there had been clashes between Trotsky and Stalin. Stalin, with Zinoviev and Kamenev, who supported him at first, hated Trotsky, but Stalin hated him with a hatred which saw in him the chief obstacle to his power; Zinoviev and Kamenev Stalin knew he could manage. Zinoviev on his part feared Trotsky, but feared Stalin also. He had the idea of balancing one against the other. But he went with Stalin for the time being. What manner of man was this who was so soon to usurp Lenin's position and attempt to play Lenin's part? No man of this generation, few men of any other, could have done this adequately.
Lenin, first and foremost, knew political economy as few professors in a university did. He was-absolute master of political theory and practice. He knew the international working class movement of the great countries of Europe, not only their history theoretically interpreted by historical materialism, but from years of personal experience in Britain, France, Germany and Switzerland. He spoke almost faultless German and wrote the language like a second tongue. He was at home in French and English and could read other European languages with ease. Intellectual honesty was with him a fanatical passion, and to his basic conception of allying the highest results of his theoretical and practical knowledge in the party to the instinctive movements of millions, honesty before the party and before the masses was for him essential. The range and honesty of his intellect, his power of will, the singular selflessness and devotion of his personal character, added to a great knowledge and understanding of men, enabled him to use all types of intellect and character in a way that helped to lift the Bolshevik party between 1917 and 1923 to the full height of the stupendous role it was called upon to fulfill. No body of men ever did so much, and how small most of them really were we can realise only by looking at what they became the moment their master left them. Lenin made them what they were. He was sly and manoeuvred as all who have to manage men must manoeuvre. But through all the disagreements of those years which often reached breaking-point he never calumniated, exiled, imprisoned or murdered any leaders of his party. He was bitter in denunciation, often unfair, but never personally malicious. He was merciless to political enemies, but he called them enemies, and proclaimed aloud that if they opposed the Soviet regime he would shoot them and keep on shooting them. But Trotsky tells us how careful he was of the health of his colleagues; hard as he was it is easy to feel in his speeches, on occasions when the party was being torn by disputes, a man of strong emotions and sensitiveness to human personality. In his private life he set an unassuming example of personal incorruptibility and austere living. No man could ever fill his place, but it was not impossible that someone able and willing to act in his tradition could have carried on where he left off, and all knew that Trotsky was best fitted for that difficult post. Lenin had designated him as such in the Testament. But the irony, the cruellest tragedy of the post-war world is, that without a break the leadership of the over-centralised and politically dominant Bolshevik party passed from one of the highest representatives of European culture to another who, in every respect except singlemindedness of purpose, was the very antithesis of his predecessor.
Now that Soviet communism has vaulted over a quarter-century of Stalin dominance to rest its claim to legitimate succession on Lenin alone, there is a tendency to romanticize his character. It is argued, even by some opponents of communism, that he was humane, idealistic, and so on. Yet there is little that Stalin did, except in its scale, that was not done first by Lenin. Stalin simply carried to insane extremes the crimes first sanctified by Lenin.
It was Lenin, it should not be forgotten, who devised the first terror machine, the Cheka, and put a sanctimonious sadist, Felix Dzerzhinsky, at its head. It was Lenin who ordered the murder of thousands of innocent "hostages"; dispersed the first and only democratically elected legislative body after the Bolshevik seizure of power, the Constituent Assembly; crushed the Kronstadt revolt of his own Red sailors; raised lies and falsification to prime virtues in his system.
This morning I watched a group of children, aged six to eleven, pass through the Hall of Columns. Each triad of little ones had an elder child or teacher with them, all four hand in hand. With wide, astonished eyes they stared at the couch where Lenin lay. As rank after rank moved across the room past the body, their heads turned to the right as though held by an irresistible attraction. On the farther side of the hall the red carpet turned sharply at right angles leading to the exit.
Each rank of the children, and many older folks, too, went on straight ahead as though hypnotised and would have marched blindly into the wall had not the teachers been there to guide them round the corner. As it was, a guard at the corner was forced to intervene again and again, so lost were the people in their first and final contemplation of Lenin.
The effect on the children and the simpler section of the public was extraordinary - a sort of veritable hypnosis that lasted two or three minutes after they reached the street again. The sudden bright lights in the hall, the dazzling white walls, and the heady perfume of flowers doubtless were responsible in no small degree, but there was something more - mass suggestion or crowd psychology perhaps.
Most of all the children seemed struck by the utter stillness of the figure on the couch and the watchers beside it.
"Was it really Lenin," asked one little girl, "or was it only an image of him?"
'"Of course it was he," said an older friend, "but he could not move, he is dead."
"But the others standing by his bed did not move either," persisted the little one. "Were they dead, too?"
Strangely enough none of them seemed frightened. One small boy was weeping bitterly, and I asked him if he had been afraid. He shook his head.
"No," he gulped at last. "I'm sorry for poor Lenin - he looked so lonely there in the middle of the great big room with people passing around."
What is happening here emphasises the religious aspect of Bolshevism with Lenin as the central figure. How else can one explain the gigantic mass movement to see his body - a movement not of Communists and their sympathisers alone, but of the rest of the population, despite such agony of cold? The Bolsheviki can organise much, but it is not their propaganda which draws these hundreds of thousands to Lenin's feet.
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