October Revolution: A Timeline

A Journal of People compilation

This painting commemorates the revolutionary events in Petrograd 1917. Through the gateway a large crowd is seen storming the Winter Palace. E Barnard Lintott, 1917, Petrograd, Russia.
IWM (Art.IWM ART 992), http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/16802.

The following timeline of the Great Proletarian Revolution in Russia in 1917 is compiled by Journal of People on the occasion of the hundred years of the Revolution. The timeline presents only a few of the major incidents of the revolution in the month of February, and is part of a full timeline. A part of the timeline has been posted in Journal of People in January. The present timeline for February will be followed by other parts in the coming months:

From January 1 through February 22: (the day before the revolution began), 260 strikes participated by 320,517 workers, which was an average of 5.6 a day, and the distinction between economic and political strikes broke down within a short time.
February 10: The Councillor of State Mikhail Rodzianko meets Tsar Nicholas II in Tsarskoye Selo. Rodzianko warns the Tsar him of massive upheaval throughout the country. Rodzianko insists that tumultuous events can be avoided by stregthening the Duma. The Tsar ignores the advice. The Bolsheviks call a strike in Petrograd to protest the 1915 arrest of their Duma members for opposing the war.
February 14: The strike called by the Bolsheviks continues while a strike called by the Mensheviks begins to show support for the Duma at Taurida Palace (as opposed to the Tsar), which opens a new session.
More than 100,000 workers from more than 50 factories are on strike.
The Duma criticizes the government for failing to respond to food shortages.
Police attempts to arrest demonstrators, but they fight the police back.
No workers march on Taurida Palace as the Mensheviks had hoped.
The Bolshevik Petrograd Committee calls on workers to overthrow the Tsar.
February 19: The tsarist government announces food rationing, leading to panic buying in cities, where food availability is already critically low.
February 22: The Tsar leaves for the General Headquarters in Mogilev.
The bosses of the Putilov Plant lock-out striking workers.
February 23: The February Revolution begins, which was ignited by the International Women’s Day.
Militant women textile workers, many of whom are soldiers’ wives, initiate a massive strike in Petrograd, despite the protests of their own union leadership.
128,000 workers take to the streets, and among their chief demands is an end to the World War and an increase in food. Bourgeois history recounts this organized movement as “Bread riots”.
February 24: The day started with political meetings at the factories. Socialist groups united to lead these.
The strike doubles in size to around 200,000 workers.
Nearly half of all industrial workers in Petrograd are on strike.
The new demands of the strike shift heavily towards overthrowing the autocracy and putting an end to the war.
Striking workers fraternize with soldiers and Cossacks while bitterly hating the police.
February 25: Activity began at factories with political meetings to prepare for the day’s events including agitating for the mass march to Nevsky.
Vyborg (Bolshevik) workers break into police stations and cut the telephones to government offices. Armed clashes with the police occur, with many killed and wounded.
Empress Alexandra writes to Nicholas II: “This is a hooligan campaign, with boys and girls running about shouting that they have no bread… all this will surely pass.” General Khabalov, commander of the Petrograd District, acting under the Tsar’s orders, threatens that he will use any means necessary to ban all demonstrations.
February 26: During the night, the army set up machine guns at key intersections in the city.
Early Sunday morning, the police launch wide scale arrests of over 100 leaders of revolutionary organizations including the Bolsheviks.
General Khabalov’s soldiers, acting under the Tsar’s orders, open fire on striking workers. 169 workers are killed, and over 1,000 people are injured.
By 4 pm, the 4th company of the Pavlovsky Regiment, outraged that part of their regiment fired on workers, rushes into the street to subdue them. On the way, police try to stop the company, and a fire fight ensues. General Khabalov orders the company to disarm; some soldiers refuse and join the protestors. Bolshevik workers in the Vyborg district plan to push events into an armed uprising.
Bolshevik agitators visit soldiers of the Volynsky Regiment with the intention of merely starting a good relationship. Before noon, the soldiers decide to kill the commander of the company that fired on demonstrators the previous day. The soldiers arm themselves, and spread the agitation throughout their entire Regiment. By afternoon, the Litovsky and Preobrazhensky Regiments join this new army, and they storm the Main Arsenal, liberating 40,000 rifles. Fully armed, they move on to liberate political prisoners from Kresty jail.
February 27: This was the day of the soldiers’ uprising. So far, socialists had played a key role in agitating and unifying workers.
By nightfall, 66,000 men of the Petrograd garrison — a day ago ordered to fire on striking workers — have now joined the striking workers, fully armed.
The Bolsheviks continue agitating for the creation of a new government, and the elected delegates – workers, peasants and soldiers of the Petrograd Soviet – arrive at Taurida Palace, creating the Executive Committee. While the Bolshevik rank and file had been incredibly successful at creating a revolutionary movement, they were unable to get good results in elections to the Soviet. The Mensheviks and SRs, who promise everything under the sun, fair much better. Both parties believe the current revolution needs to be capitalist, before the nation can move into Socialism in the unforseen future (a political theory called stagism). The Menshevik N.S. Chkheidze becomes leader of the Soviet.
Meanwhile, the wheels of the old order keep turning. Rodzianko asks the Duma to convene to resolve on a course of action. The group creates a Provisional Committee, which urgently asks the Tsar to save himself by sharing power with a Prime Minister. The Tsar refuses.
February 28: The revolutionary masses seize the city of Moscow. The Tsar’s ministers are arrested. The Provisional Committee assumes control of the Army while the Kronstadt sailors mutiny against their officers. The first issue of Izvestia, a newspaper of the Petrograd Soviet, is published.

 

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