A Journal of People compilation
The 2nd Machine Gun Regiment demands: All power to the Soviets!
The 3rd Infantry Regiment refuses to send 14 replacement companies to the front.
The 1st Machine Gun Regiment marches from Oranienbaum to Petrograd.
The Soviet Executive Committee, now sharing power within the Provisional Government, tells them to go home, but the soldiers refuse.
The Bolsheviks organize for the machine-gunners to have food and quarters. According to the historian/observer Sukhanov, in these days Petrograd “felt itself to be upon the verge of some sort of explosion.”
After receiving an order to go to the front, thousands of machine-gunners hold a meeting about an armed insurrection.
The Bolsheviks try to cool things off while the Anarchists stoke the fire.
The soldiers decide to march, fully armed, and send delegates from one factory after another, with workers dropping everything to join the march. Tens of thousands go marching, demanding All power to the Soviets!
The Bolsheviks change tactics. No longer trying to restrain the masses, they agree to support them, so long as they peacefully march to the seat of government, elect delegates, and present their demands to the Executive Committee of the Soviets. The masses agree.
The Government spends the entire day calling on troops from across the country to come in defence of the capital. The Mensheviks and SRs decry the Bolsheviks for the insurrection, claiming they are threatening the Soviets.
The leadership of the Petrograd Soviet changes its composition and becomes a Bolshevik majority. Further strengthening the Bolshevik majority, the Mensheviks and SRs refuse to co-operate and walk out, having lost their majority power. They remain in control of the Soviet Executive Committee, and thus the ravine deepens further between local Soviets and the Soviet Executive Committee.
Under Stalin’s guidance, the Central Committee (CC) of the RSDLP (B) adopts a number of measures to restrain the masses from spontaneous armed demonstration. When it becomes clear that the movement cannot be stopped, the CC resolves to take part in the demonstration in order to lend it a peaceful and organized character.
At 3am, 80,000 workers and soldiers reach the Tauride Palace. Junkers meet the demonstrators, and tear up placards. A shot is fired, but disaster is averted. The Bolsheviks spend the early hours of morning figuring out how to organize the demonstrators.
By 11 am, the demonstrators assemble yet again. Now, entire Regiments arrive, but they are no longer at the front of the demonstrations: the workers have taken the lead by shear mass of numbers. Even in factories where Mensheviks and SRs hold influence, four out of five workers join the demonstrations. The nation witnesses a massive General Strike. Lenin speaks to the demonstrators, encouraging their slogan of All power to the Soviets!
Over 500,000 people attend the demonstrations in Petrograd. The first of the soldiers from the front arrive ready to support the Provisional Government, and frightened that a revolution is imminent, are ordered to launch ambushes against the masses. 400 people are killed and wounded. The Mensheviks, hands covered in blood, eventually “convince” the demonstrators to go home.
Lenin addresses demonstrators from the balcony of the Kshesinskya Palace.
At a meeting of the Central Executive Committee, Stalin demands that the spread of calumnies against Lenin and the Bolsheviks be stopped.
Night of July 4-5
Lenin attends a meeting of the CC of the RSDLP (B), which adopts an appeal for the discontinuation of the July demonstration.
At 6am, the Government begins the offensive. The offices and printing machinery of Pravda are destroyed. Workers distributing the paper are murdered in the streets. Ironically, the last documents to come from the press are the continued Bolshevik position of stopping the demonstration. Government agents then ransack the Kshesinskaya Palace, headquarters of the Bolshevik Central Committee and Petrograd Committee. Union and Soviet workers are arrested in mass from factories and meeting halls in retaliation for their leadership of the demonstrations. Wide-scale fear and intimidation grips the city as the police presence intensifies to an almost martial law status; the mere mention of Lenin or the Bolsheviks is cause for arrest.
Around 120 Kronstadt sailors refuse to give in, and retreat to the Peter and Paul fortress. Red Guards (a militia of regular factory workers) accompany the sailors, following their pledge to protect them. The Government forces setup a barricade and begin a siege. Stalin mediates and reaches an agreement with both sides: the Kronstadters will disarm, in return for getting free passage back to Kronstadt.
The General Strike comes to an end, and workers return to their jobs, fearful of arrest. The Government induced terror becomes near hysteria, and countless numbers are arrested as spies. All troops called in from the front arrive in Petrograd, in a massive show of force.
Lenin holds a meeting of the CC of the RSDLP (B) to discuss the July events.
Lenin attends a meeting of the Executive Commission of the Petrograd Committee of the RSDLP (B) in the lodge of the Renault (later, the Krasny Oktyabr) Works.
Stalin goes to the Fortress of Peter and Paul and succeeds in persuading the revolutionary sailors to refrain from armed action. Stalin secures the cancellation of the order by the Petrograd Military Command to employ armed force against the sailors.
The Provisional Government orders the arrest of Lenin, claiming he is a German spy, and that the Bolsheviks incited the uprising. The Provision Government further orders the disbandment of the Petrograd garrison. Lenin hides in the home of S Y Alliluyev, a worker. Lenin writes a letter to the Bureau of the Central Executive Committee of the All-Russia Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies protesting against the search carried out at his home.
Stalin and G K Ordjonikidge confer with Lenin on the question of his leaving Petrograd.
Kerensky becomes head of the government, after Lvov resigns. The Provisional Government attempts to improve public relations, and announces that it will hold elections to the Constituent Assembly on September 17, work on legislation for the 8 hour day, create better labor safety, and carry out land reform. None of these promises would be kept.
Night of July 9-10
Lenin leaves the home of S Y Alliluyev, a worker, in Petrograd, where he hid from July 7 and illegally moves to the house of N A Yemeltanov, a worker, near Razliv Station.
Lenin hides in the loft of Yemelyanov’s barn, near Razliv Station, but soon moves to a hut beyond Lake Razliv and lives there disguised as a mower. He keeps contacts with Petrograd through the Party comrades assigned for this purpose by the CC, writes articles and speeches for the Bolshevik newspapers, and works on his book The State and Revolution.
Lenin goes into hiding. Stalin and Alliluyev accompany Lenin to Primorsk Station and put him on the train to Razliv.
The Provisional Government re-introduces a law allowing drumhead trials at the front (summary executions for retreating, etc). Furthermore, all radical political ideals are censored, and many newspapers are shut down. On the 19th, Lenin responds that a worker’s government will “close down the bourgeoisie’s newspapers”.
General L.G. Kornilov becomes the Supreme Commander in Chief of the Russian Armed Forces.
The Second Coalition Government is formed; Kerensky appoints himself President. The Mensheviks, Cadets, and SRs join the government.
July 26-August 3
Sixth Congress of the R.S.D.L.P (B) occurs, representing 240,000 party members. The congress elects Lenin honorary chairman, and sends him a message of greeting. On July 29, the congress elects Lenin to the CC. Since Lenin is in hiding, Stalin delivers the report on the work of the Central Committee. The Congress resolves that a peaceful revolution has become impossible. Further, the Party decides on the principle of democratic centralism. On August 3, the party congress nominates Lenin for election to the Constituent Assembly.
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