This chapter extends over a period of two months, more or less. It covers the time of negotiations with the Allies, the negotiations and armistice with the Germans, and the beginning of the Peace negotiations at Brest–Litovsk, as well as the period in which were laid the foundations of the Soviet State.
However, it is no part of my purpose in this book to describe and interpret these very important historical events, which require more space. They are therefore reserved for another volume, “Kornilov to Brest–Litovsk.”
In this chapter, then, I have confined myself to the Soviet Government’s attempts to consolidate its political power at home, and sketched its successive conquests of hostile domestic elements — which process was temporarily interrupted by the disastrous Peace of Brest–Litovsk.
The October Revolution of the workers and peasants began under the common banner of Emancipation.
The peasants are being emancipated from the power of the landowners, for there is no longer the landowner’s property right in the land — it has been abolished. The soldiers and sailors are being emancipated from the power of autocratic generals, for generals will henceforth be elective and subject to recall. The workingmen are being emancipated from the whims and arbitrary will of the capitalists, for henceforth there will be established the control of the workers over mills and factories. Everything living and capable of life is being emancipated from the hateful shackles.
There remain only the peoples of Russia, who have suffered and are suffering oppression and arbitrariness, and whose emancipation must immediately be begun, whose liberation must be effected resolutely and definitely.
During the period of Tsarism the peoples of Russia were systematically incited against one another. The result of such a policy are known: massacres and pogroms on the one hand, slavery of peoples on the other.
There can be and there must be no return to this disgraceful policy. Henceforth the policy of a voluntary and honest union of the peoples of Russia must be substituted.
In the period of imperialism, after the March revolution, when the power was transferred into the hands of the Cadet bourgeoisie, the naked policy of provocation gave way to one of cowardly distrust of the peoples of Russia, to a policy of fault-finding, of meaningless “freedom” and “equality” of peoples. The results of such a policy are known: the growth of national enmity, the impairment of mutual confidence.
An end must be put to this unworthy policy of falsehood and distrust, of fault-finding and provocation. Henceforth it must be replaced by an open and honest policy leading to the complete mutual confidence of the peoples of Russia. Only as the result of such a trust can there be formed an honest and lasting union of the peoples of Russia. Only as the result of such a union can the workers and peasants of the peoples of Russia be cemented into one revolutionary force able to resist all attempts on the part of the imperialist-annexationist bourgeoisie.
On the Nationalisation of the Banks
In the interest of the regular organisation of the national economy, of the thorough eradication of bank speculation and the complete emancipation of the workers, peasants, and the whole labouring population from the exploitation of banking capital, and with a view to the establishment of a single national bank of the Russian Republic which shall serve the real interests of the people and the poorer classes, the Central Executive Committee (Tsay-ee-kah) resolves:
1. The banking business is declared a state monopoly.
2. All existing private joint-stock banks and banking offices are merged in the State Bank.
3. The assets and liabilities of the liquidated establishments are taken over by the State Bank.
4. The order of the merger of private banks in the State Bank is to be determined by a special decree.
5. The temporary administration of the affairs of the private banks is entrusted to the board of the State Bank.
6. The interests of the small depositors will be safeguarded.
On the Equality of Rank of All Military Men
In realisation of the will of the revolutionary people regarding the prompt and decisive abolition of all remnants of former inequality in the Army, the Council of People’s Commissars decrees:
1. All ranks and grades in the Army, beginning with the rank of Corporal and ending with the rank of General, are abolished. The Army of the Russian Republic consists now of free and equal citizens, bearing the honourable title of Soldiers of the Revolutionary Army.
2. All privileges connected with the former ranks and grades, also all outward marks of distinction, are abolished.
3. All addressing by titles is abolished.
4. All decorations, orders, and other marks of distinction are abolished.
5. With the abolition of the rank of officer, all separate officers’ organisations are abolished.
Note. — Orderlies are left only for headquarters, chanceries, Committees and other Army organisations.
President of the Council of People’s Commissars,
VL. ULIANOV (LENIN).
People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs,
People’s Commissar for Military Affairs,
Secretary of the Council,
On the Elective Principle and the Organisation of Authority in the Army
1. The army serving the will of the toiling people is subject to its supreme representative — the Council of People’s Commissars.
2. Full authority within the limits of military units and combinations is vested in the respective Soldiers’ Committees and Soviets.
3. Those phases of the life and activity of the troops which are already under the jurisdiction of the Committees are now formally placed in their direct control. Over such branches of activity which the Committees cannot assume, the control of the Soldiers’ Soviets is established.
4. The election of commanding Staff and officers is introduced. All commanders up to the commanders of regiments, inclusive, are elected by general suffrage of squads, platoons, companies, squadrons, batteries, divisions (artillery, 2–3 batteries), and regiments. All commanders higher than the commander of a regiment, and up to the Supreme Commander, inclusive, are elected by congresses or conferences of Committees.
Note. — By the term “conference” must be understood a meeting of the respective Committees together with delegates of committees one degree lower in rank. (Such as a “conference” of Regimental Committees with delegates from Company Committees. — Author.)
5. The elected commanders above the rank of commander of regiment must be confirmed by the nearest Supreme Committee.
Note. In the event of a refusal by a Supreme Committee to confirm an elected commander, with a statement of reasons for such refusal, a commander elected by the lower Committee a second time must be confirmed.
6. The commanders of Armies are elected by Army congresses. Commanders of Fronts are elected by congresses of the respective Fronts.
7. To posts of a technical character, demanding special knowledge or other practical preparation, namely: doctors, engineers, technicians, telegraph and wireless operators, aviators, automobilists, etc., only such persons as possess the required special knowledge may be elected, by the Committees of the units of the respective services.
8. Chiefs of Staff must be chosen from among persons with special military training for that post.
9. All other members of the Staff are appointed by the Chief of Staff, and confirmed by the respective congresses.
Note. — All persons with special training must be listed in a special list.
10. The right is reserved to retire from the service all commanders on active service who are not elected by the soldiers to any post, and who consequently are ranked as privates.
11. All other functions beside those pertaining to the command, with the exception of posts in the economic departments, are filled by appointment of the respective elected commanders.
12. Detailed instructions regarding the elections of the commanding Staff will be published separately.
President of the Council of People’s Commissars.
VL. ULIANOV (LENIN).
People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs,
People’s Commissar for Military Affairs,
Secretary of the Council,
On the Abolition of Classes and Titles
1. All classes and class divisions, all class privileges and delimitations, all class organisations and institutions and all civil ranks are abolished.
2. All classes of society (nobles, merchants, petty bourgeois, etc.),and all titles (Prince, Count and others), and all denominations of civil rank (Privy State Councillor, and others), are abolished, and there is established the general denomination of Citizen of the Russian Republic.
3. The property and institutions of the classes of nobility are transferred to the corresponding autonomous Zemstvos.
4. The property of merchant and bourgeois organisations is transferred immediately to the Municipal Self–Governments.
5. All class institutions of any sort, with their property, their rules of procedure, and their archives, are transferred to the administration of the Municipalities and Zemstvos.
6. All articles of existing laws applying to these matters are herewith repealed.
7. The present decree becomes effective on the day it is published and applied by the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies.
The present decree has been confirmed by the Tsay-ee-kah at the meeting of November 23d, 1917, and signed by:
President of the Tsay-ee-kah,
President of the Council of People’s Commissars,
VL. ULIANOV (LENIN).
Executive of the Council of People’s Commissars,
Secretary of the Council,
On December 3d the Council of People’s Commissars resolved “to reduce the salaries of functionaries and employees in all Government institutions and establishments, general or special, without exception.”
To begin with, the Council fixed the salary of a People’s Commissar at 500 rubles per month, with 100 rubles additional for each grown member of the family incapable of work….
This was the highest salary paid to any Government official….
Countess Panina was arrested and brought to trial before the first Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal. The trial is described in the chapter on “Revolutionary Justice” in my forthcoming volume, “Kornilov to Brist — Litovsk.” The prisoner was sentenced to “return the money, and then be liberated to the public contempt.” In other words, she was set free!
From Drug Naroda (Menshevik), November 18th:
“The story of the ‘immediate peace’ of the Bolsheviki reminds us of a joyous moving-picture film…. Neratov runs — Trotzky pursues; Neratov climbs a wall, Trotzky too; Neratov dives into the water — Trotzky follows; Neratov climbs onto the roof — Trotzky right behind him; Neratov hides under the bed — and Trotzky has him! He has him! Naturally, peace is immediately signed….
“All is empty and silent at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The couriers are respectful, but their faces wear a caustic expression….
“How about arresting an ambassador and signing an armistice or a Peace Treaty with him? But they are strange folk, these ambassadors. They keep silent just as if they had heard nothing. Hola, hola, England, France, Germany! We have signed an armistice with you! Is it possible that you know nothing about it? Nevertheless, it has been published in all the papers and posted on all the walls. On a Bolshevik’s word of honour, Peace has been signed. We’re not asking much of you; you just have to write two words….
“The ambassadors remain silent. The Powers remain silent. All is empty and silent in the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“‘Listen,’ says Robespierre–Trotzky to his assistant Marat–Uritzky, ‘run over to the British Ambassador’s, tell him we’re proposing peace!’
“‘Go yourself,’ says Marat–Uritzky. ‘He’s not receiving.’
“‘Telephone him, then.’
“‘I’ve tried. The receiver’s off the hook.’
“‘Send him a telegram.’
“‘Well, with what result?’
“Marat–Uritzky sighs and does not answer. Robespierre–Trotzky spits furiously into the corner….
“‘Listen, Marat,’ recommences Trotzky, after a moment. ‘We must absolutely show that we’re conducting an active foreign policy. How can we do that?’
“‘Launch another decree about arresting Neratov,’ answers Uritzky, with a profound air.
“‘Marat, you’re a blockhead!’ cries Trotzky. All of a sudden he arises, terrible and majestic, looking at this moment like Robespierre.
“‘Write, Uritzky!’ he says with severity. ‘Write a letter to the British ambassador, a registered letter with receipt demanded. Write! I also will write! The peoples of the world await an immediate peace!’
“In the enormous and empty Ministry of Foreign Affairs are to be heard only the sound of two typewriters. With his own hands Trotzky is conducting an active foreign policy….”
To the Attention of All Workers and All Soldiers.
November 11th, in the club of the Preobrazhensky Regiment, was held an extraordinary meeting of representatives of all the units of the Petrograd garrison.
The meeting was called upon the initiative of the Preobrazhensky and Semionovsky Regiments, for the discussion of the question as to which Socialist parties are for the power of the Soviets, which are against, which are for the people, which against, and if an agreement between them is possible.
The representatives of the Tsay-ee-kah, of the Municipal Duma, of the Avksentiev Peasants’ Soviets, and of all the political parties from the Bolsheviki to the Populist Socialists, were invited to the meeting.
After long deliberation, having heard the declarations of all parties and organisations, the meeting by a tremendous majority of votes agreed that only the Bolsheviki and the Left Socialist Revolutionaries are for the people, and that all the other parties are only attempting, under cover of seeking an agreement, to deprive the people of the conquests won in the days of the great Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolution of November.
Here is the text of the resolution carried at this meeting of the Petrograd garrison, by 61 votes against 11, and 12 not voting:
“The garrison conference, summoned at the initiative of the Semionovsky and Preobrazhensky Regiments, on hearing the representatives of all the Socialist parties and popular organisations on the question of an agreement between the different political parties finds that:
“1. The representatives of the Tasy-ee-kah, the representatives of the Bolshevik party and the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, declared definitely that they stand for a Government of the Soviets, for the decrees on Land, Peace and Workers’ Control of Industry, and that upon this platform they are willing to agree with all the Socialist parties.
“2. At the same time the representatives of the other parties (Mensheviki, Socialist Revolutionaries) either gave no answer at all, or declared simply that they were opposed to the power of the Soviets and against the decrees on Land, Peace and Workers’ Control.
“In view of this the meeting resolves:
“‘1. To express severe censure of all parties which, under cover of an agreement, wish practically to annul the popular conquests of the Revolution of November.
“2. To express full confidence in the Tsay-ee-kah and the Council of People’s Commissars, and to promise them complete support.’
“At the same time the meeting deems it necessary that the comrades Left Socialist Revolutionaries should enter the People’s Government.”
It was afterward discovered that there was a regular organisation, maintained by the Cadets, for provoking rioting among the soldiers. There would be telephone messages to the different barracks, announcing that wine was being given away at such and such an address, and when the soldiers arrived at the spot an individual would point out the location of the cellar….
The Council of People’s Commissars appointed a Commissar for the Fight Against Drunkenness, who, besides mercilessly putting down the wine riots, destroyed hundreds of thousands of bottles of liquor. The Winter Palace cellars, containing rare vintages valued at more than five million dollars, were at first flooded, and then the liquor was removed to Cronstadt and destroyed.
In this work the Cronstadt sailors, “flower and pride of the revolutionary forces,” as Trotzky called them, acquitted themselves with iron selfdicipline….
Two orders concerning them:
Council of People’s Commissars
To the Military Revolutionary Committee
The disorganisation of the food supply created by the war, and the lack of system, is becoming to the last degree acute, thanks to the speculators, marauders and their followers on the railways, in the steamship offices, forwarding offices, etc.
Taking advantage of the nation’s greatest misfortunes, these criminal spoliators are playing with the health and life of millions of soldiers and workers, for their own benefit.
Such a situation cannot be borne a single day longer.
The Council of People’s Commissars proposes to the Military Revolutionary Committee to take the most decisive measures towards the uprooting of speculation, sabotage, hiding of supplies, fraudulent detention of cargoes, etc.
All persons guilty of such actions shall be subject, by special orders of the Military Revolutionary Committee, to immediate arrest and confinement in the prisons of Cronstadt, pending their arraignment before the Revolutionary Tribunal.
All the popular organisations are invited to cooperate in the struggle against the spoliators of food supplies.
President of the Council of People’s Commissaries.
V. ULIANOV (LENIN).
Accepted for execution,
Military Revolutionary Committee attached to
the C. E. C. of the Soviets of W. & S. Deputies.
Petrograd, Nov. 23d, 1917.
To All Honest Citizens
The Military Revolutionary Committee Decrees:
Spoliators, marauders, speculators, are declared to be enemies of the People….
The Military Revolutionary Committee proposes to all public organisations, to all honest citizens: to inform the Military Revolutionary Committee immediately of all cases of spoliation, marauding, speculation, which become known to them.
The struggle against this evil is the business of all honest people. The Military Revolutionary Committee expects the support of all to whom the interests of the People are dear.
The Military Revolutionary Committee will be merciless in pursuit of speculators and marauders.
THE MILITARY REVOLUTIONARY COMMITTEE
Petrograd, Dec. 2d, 1917.
“The situation at Petrograd is desperate. The city is cut off from the outside world and is entirely in the power of the Bolsheviki…. People are arrested in the streets, thrown into the Neva, drowned and imprisoned without any charge. Even Burtzev is shut up in Peter–Paul fortress, under strict guard.
“The organisation at whose head I am is working without rest to unite all the officers and what is left of the yunker schools, and to arm them. The situation cannot be saved except by creating regiments of officers and yunkers. Attacking with these regiments, and having gained a first success, we could later gain the aid of the garrison troops; but without that first success it is impossible to count on a single soldier, because thousands of them are divided and terrorised by the scum which exists in every regiment. Most of the Cossacks are tainted by Bolshevik propaganda, thanks to the strange policy of General Dutov, who allowed to pass the moment when by decisive action something could have been obtained. The policy of negotiations and concessions has borne its fruits; all that is respectable is persecuted, and it is the plebe and the criminals who dominate — and nothing can be done except by shooting and hanging them.
“We are awaiting you here, General, and at the moment of your arrival, we shall advance with all the forces at our disposal. But for that we must establish some communication with you, and before all, clear up the following points:
“(1) Do you know that in your name all officers who could take part in the fight are being invited to leave Petrograd on the pretext of joining you?
“(2) About when can we count on your arrival at Petrograd? We should like to know in order to coordinate our actions.
“In spite of the criminal inaction of the conscious people here, which allowed the yoke of Bolshevism to be laid upon us — in spite of the extraordinary pig — headedness of the majority of officers, so difficult to organise — we believe in spite of all that Truth is on our side, and that we shall conquer the vicious and criminal forces who say that they are acting for motives of love of country and in order to save it. Whatever comes, we shall not permit ourselves to be struck down, and shall remain firm until the end.”
Purishkevitch, being brought to trial before the Revolutionary Tribunal, was given a short prison term….
1. The printing of advertisements, in newspapers, books, bill-boards, kiosks, in offices and other establishments is declared to be a State monopoly.
2. Advertisements may only be published in the organs of the Provisional Workers’ and Peasants’ Government at Petrograd, and in the organs of local Soviets.
3. The proprietors of newspapers and advertising offices, as well as all employees of such establishments, should remain at their posts until the transfer of the advertisement business to the Government…. superintending the uninterrupted continuation of their houses, and turning over to the Soviets all private advertising and the sums received therefor, as well as all accounts and copy.
4. All managers of publications and businesses dealing with paid advertising, as well as their employees and workers, shall agree to hold a City Congress, and to join, first the City Trade Unions, and then the All–Russian Unions, to organise more thoroughly and justly the advertising business in the Soviet publications, as well as to prepare better rules for the public utility of advertising.
5. All persons found guilty of having concealed documents or money, or having sabotaged the regulations indicated in paragraphs 3 and 4, will be punished by a sentence of not more than three years’ imprisonment, and all their property will be confiscated.
6. The paid insertion of advertisements…. in private publications, or under a masqued form, will also be severely penalised.
7. Advertising offices are confiscated by the Government, the owners being entitled to compensation in cases of necessity. Small proprietors, depositors and stock-holders of the confiscated establishments will be reimbursed for all moneys held by them in the concern.
8. All buildings, officers, counters, and in general every establishment doing a business in advertising, should immediately inform the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies of its address, and proceed to the transfer of its business, under penalty of the punishment indicated in paragraph 5.
President of the Council of People’s Commissars,
VL. ULIANOV (LENIN).
People’s Commissar for Public Instruction,
A. V. LUNATCHARSKY.
Secretary of the Council,
1. The city of Petrograd is declared to be in a state of siege.
2. All assemblies, meetings and congregations on the streets and squares are prohibited.
3. Attempts to loot wine-cellars, warehouses, factories, stores, business premises, private dwellings, etc., etc., will be stopped by machine-gun fire without warning.
4. House Committees, doormen, janitors and Militiamen are charged with the duty of keeping strict order in all houses, courtyards and in the streets, and house-doors and carriage-entrances must be locked at 9 o’clock in the evening, and opened at 7 o’clock in the morning. After 9 o’clock in the evening only tenants may leave the house, under strict control of the House Committees.
5. Those guilty of the distribution, sale or purchase of any kind of alcoholic liquor, and also those guilty of the violation of sections 2 and 4, will be immediately arrested and subjected to the most severe punishment.
Petrograd, 6th of December, 3 o’clock in the night.
Committee to Fight Against Pogroms, attached to the Executive
Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.
Lenin, To the People of Russia:
“Comrades workers, soldiers, peasants — all toilers!
“The Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolution has won at Petrograd, at Moscow…. From the Front and the villages arrive every day, every hour, greetings to the new Government…. The victory of the Revolution…. is assured, seeing that it is sustained by the majority of the people.
“It is entirely understandable that the proprietors and the capitalists, the employees and functionaries closely allied with the bourgeoisic — in a word, all the rich and all those who join hands with them — regard the new Revolution with hostility, oppose its success, threaten to halt the activity of the banks, and sabotage or obstruct the work of other establishments…. Every conscious worker understands perfectly that we cannot avoid this hostility, because the high officials have set themselves against the People and do not wish to abandon their posts without resistance. But the working classes are not for one moment afraid of that resistance. The majority of the people are for us. For us are the majority of the workers and the oppressed of the whole world. We have justice on our side. Our ultimate victory is certain.
“The resistance of the capitalists and high officials will be broken. No one will be deprived of his property without a special law on the nationalisation of banks and financial syndicates. This law is in preparation. Not a worker will lose a single kopek; on the contrary, he will be assisted. Without at this moment establishing the new taxes, the new Government considers one of its primary duties to make a severe accounting and control on the reception of taxes decreed by the former régime….
“Comrades workers! Remember that you yourselves direct the Government. No one will help you unless you organise yourselves and take into your own hands the affairs of the State. Your Soviets are now the organs of governmental power…. Strengthen them, establish a severe revolutionary control, pitilessly crush the attempts at anarchy on the part of drunkards, brigands, counter-revolutionary yunkers and Kornilovists.
“Establish a strict control over production and the accounting for products. Arrest and turn over to the Revolutionary Tribunal of the People every one who injures the property of the People, by sabotage in production, by concealment of grain-reserves, reserves of other products, by retarding the shipments of grain, by bringing confusion into the railroads, the posts and the telegraphs, or in general opposing the great work of bringing Peace and transferring the Land to the peasants….
“Comrades workers, soldiers, peasants — all toilers!
“Take immediately all local power into your hands…. Little by little, with the consent of the majority of peasants, we shall march firmly and unhesitatingly toward the victory of Socialism, which will fortify the advance-guards of the working-class of the most civilised Countries, and give to the peoples an enduring peace, and free them from every slavery and every exploitation.”
“Comrades! The Revolution is winning — the revolution has won. All the power has passed over to our Soviets. The first weeks are the most difficult ones. The broken reaction must be finally crushed, a full triumph must be secured to our endeavours. The working-class ought to — must — show in these days THE GREATEST FIRMNESS AND ENDURANCE, in order to facilitate the execution of all the aims of the new People’s Government of Soviets. In the next few days decrees on the Labour question will be issued, and among the very first will be the decree on Workers’ Control over the production and regulation of Industry.
“STRIKES AND DEMONSTRATIONS OF THE WORKER MASSES IN PETROGRAD NOW CAN ONLY DO HARM.
“We ask you to cease immediately all economic and political strikes, to take up your work, and do it in perfect order. The work in the factories and all the industries is necessary for the new Government of Soviets, because any interruption of this work will only create new difficulties for us, and we have enough as it is. All to your places.
“The best way to support the new Government of Soviets in these days — is by doing your job.
“LONG LIVE THE IRON FIRMNESS OF THE PROLETARIAT! LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION!”
Petrograd Soviet of W. & S. D.
Petrograd Council of Trade Unions.
Petrograd Council of Factory–Shop Committees.
From the Employees of the State and private Banks To the Population of Petrograd:
“Comrades workers, soldiers and citizens!
“The Military Revolutionary Committee in an ‘extraordinary notice’ is accusing the workers of the State and private banking and other institutions of ‘impeding the work of the Government, directed towards the ensuring of the Front with provisions.’
“Comrades and citizens, do not believe this calumny, brought against us, who are part of the general army of labour.
“However difficult it be for us to work under the constant threat of interference by acts of violence in our hard-working life, however depressing it be to know that our Country and the Revolution are on the verge of ruin, we, nevertheless, all of us, from the highest to the lowest, employees, artelshtchiki, counters, labourers, couriers, etc., are continuing to fulfil our duties which are connected with the ensuring of provisions and munitions to the Front and country.
“Counting upon your lack of information, comrades workers and soldiers, in questions of finance and banking, you are being incited against workers like yourselves, because it is desirable to divert the responsibility for the starving and dying brother-soldiers at the Front from the guilty persons to the innocent workers who are accomplishing their duty under the burden of general poverty and disorganisation.
“REMEMBER, WORKERS AND SOLDIERS! THE EMPLOYEES HAVE ALWAYS STOOD UP FOR AND WILL ALWAYS STAND UP FOR THE INTERESTS OF THE TOILING PEOPLE, PART OF WHICH THEY ARE THEMSELVES, AND NOT A SINGLE KOPEK NECESSARY FOR THE FRONT AND THE WORKERS HAS EVER BEEN DETAINED AND WILL NOT BE DETAINED BY THE EMPLOYEES.
“From November 6th to November 23d, i.e., during 17 days, 500 million rubles were dispatched to the Front, and 120 millions to Moscow, besides the sums sent to other towns.
“Keeping guard over the wealth of the people, the master of which can be only the Constituent Assembly, representing the whole nation, the employees refuse to give out money for purposes which are unknown to them.
“DO NOT BELIEVE THE CALUMNIATORS CALLING YOU TO TAKE THE LAW INTO YOUR OWN HANDS!”
Central Board of the All–Russian Union of Employees of the State Bank.
Central Board of the All–Russian Trade Union of Employees of Credit Institutions.
To the Population of Petrograd.
“CITIZENS: Do not believe the falsehood which irresponsible people are trying to suggest to you by spreading terrible calumnies against the employees of the Ministry of Supplies and the workers in other Supply organisations who are labouring in these dark days for the salvation of Russia. Citizens! In posted placards you are called upon to lynch us, we are accused falsely of sabotage and strikes, we are blamed for all the woes and misfortunes that the people are suffering, although we have been striving indefatigably and uninterruptedly, and are still striving, to save the Russian people from the horrors of starvation. Notwithstanding all that we are bearing as citizens of unhappy Russia, we have not for one hour abandoned our heavy and responsible work of supplying the Army and population with provisions.
“The image of the Army, cold and hungry, saving our very existence by its blood and its tortures, does not leave us for a single moment.
“Citizens! If we have survived the blackest days in the life and history of our people, if we have succeeded in preventing famine in Petrograd, if we have managed to procure to the suffering army bread and forage by means of enormous, almost superhuman, efforts, it is because we have honestly continued and are still continuing to do our work….
“To the ‘last warning’ of the usurpers of the power we reply: It is not for you who are leading the country to ruin to threaten us who are doing all we can not to allow the country to perish. We are not afraid of threats; before us stands the sacred image of tortured Russia. We will continue our work of supplying the Army and the people with bread to our last efforts, so long as you will not prevent us from accomplishing our duty to our country. In the contrary case the Army and the people will stand before the horrors of famine, but the responsibility therefor belongs to the perpetrators of violence.
Executive Committee of the Employees of the
Ministry of Supplies.
To the Tchinovniki (Government Officials).
It is notified hereby, that all officials and persons who have quitted the service in Government and public institutions or have been dismissed for sabotage or for having failed to report for work on the day fixed, and who have nevertheless received their salary paid in advance for the time they have not served, are bound to return such salary not later than on November 27th, 1917, to those institutions where they were in service.
In the event of this not being done, these persons will be rendered answerable for stealing the Treasury’s property and tried by the Military Revolutionary Court.
The Military–Revolutionary Committee.
December 7th, 1917.
From the Special Board for the Supplies
“The conditions of our work for the supplying of Petrograd are getting more and more difficult every day.
“The interference with our work — which is so ruinous to our business — of the Commissars of the Military Revolutionary Committee is still continuing.
“THEIR ARBITRARY ACTS, their annulling of our orders, MAY LEAD TO A CATASTROPHE.
“Seals have been affixed to one of the cold storages where the meat and butter destined for the population are kept, and we cannot regulate the temperature SO THAT THE PRODUCTS WOULD NOT BE SPOILT.
“One carload of potatoes and one carload of cabbages have been seized and carried away no one knows where to.
“Cargoes which are not liable to requisition (khalva) are requisitioned by the Commissars and, as was the case one day, five boxes of khalva were seized by the Commissar for his own use.
“WE ARE NOT IN A POSITION TO DISPOSE OF OUR STORAGES, where the selfappointed Commissars do not allow the cargoes to be taken out, and terrorise our employees, threatening them with arrest.
“ALL THAT IS GOING ON IN PETROGRAD IS KNOWN IN THE PROVINCES, AND FROM THE DON, FROM SIBERIA, FROM VORONEZH AND OTHER PLACES PEOPLE ARE REFUSING TO SEND FLOUR AND BREAD.
“THIS CANNOT GO ON MUCH LONGER.
“The work is simply falling out of our hands.
“OUR DUTY is to let the population know of this.
“To the last possibility we will remain on guard of the interests of the population.
“WE WILL DO EVERYTHING TO AVOID THE ONCOMING FAMINE, BUT IF UNDER THESE DIFFICULT CONDITIONS OUR WORK IS COMPELLED TO STOP, LET THE PEOPLE KNOW THAT IT IS NOT OUR FAULT….”
There were nineteen tickets in Petrograd. The results are as follows, published November 30th:
|S. D. and S. R. Ukrainean and Jewish Workers||4,219|
|League of Women’s Rights||5,310|
|Socialist Revolutionaries (oborontsi)||4,696|
|Left Socialist Revolutionaries||152,230|
|League of the People’s Development||385|
|Feminine League for Salvation of Country||318|
|Independent League of Workers, Soldiers, Peasants||4,942|
|Christian Democrats (Catholic)||14,382|
|Unified Social Democrats||11,740|
|League of Cossack Troops||6,712|
“You are being deceived. You are being incited against the People. You are told that the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies are your enemies, that they want to take away your Cossack land, your Cossack ‘liberty’. Don’t believe it, Cossacks…. Your own Generals and landowners are deceiving you, in order to keep you in darkness and slavery. We, the Council of People’s Commissars, address ourselves to you, Cossacks, with these words. Read them attentively and judge yourselves which is the truth and which is cruel deceit. The life and service of a Cossack were always bondage and penal servitude. At the first call of the authorities a Cossack always had to saddle his horse and ride out on campaign. All his military equipment a Cossack had to provide with his own hardly earned means. A Cossack is on service, his farm is going to rack and ruin. Is such a condition fair? No, it must be altered for ever. THE COSSACKS MUST BE FREED FROM BONDAGE. The new People’s Soviet power is willing to come to the assistance of the toiling Cossacks. It is only necessary that the Cossacks themselves should resolve to abolish the old order, that they should refuse submission to their slave-driver officers, land-owners, rich men, that they should throw off the cursed yoke from their necks. Arise, Cossacks! Unite! The Council of People’s Commissars calls upon you to enter a new, fresh, more happy life.
“In November and December in Petrograd there were All–Russian Congresses of Soviets of Soldiers’, Workers’, and Peasants’ Deputies. These Congresses transferred all the authority in the different localities into the hands of the Soviets, i.e., into the hands of men elected by the People. From now on there must be in Russia no rulers or functionaries who command the People from above and drive them. The People create the authority themselves. A General has no more rights than a soldier. All are equal. Consider, Cossacks, is this wrong or right? We are calling upon you, Cossacks, to join this new order and to create your own Soviets of Cossacks’ Deputies. To such Soviets all the power must belong in the different localities. Not to hetmans with the rank of General, but to the elected representatives of the toiling Cossacks, to your own trustworthy reliable men.
“The All–Russian Congresses of Soldiers’, Workers’, and Peasants’ Deputies have passed a resolution to transfer all landowners’ land into the possession of the toiling people. Is not that fair, Cossacks? The Kornilovs, Kaledins, Dutovs, Karaulovs, Bardizhes, all defend with their whole souls the interests of the rich men, and they are ready to drown Russia in blood if only the lands remain in the hands of the landowners. But you, the toiling Cossacks, do not you suffer yourselves from poverty, oppression and lack of land? How many Cossacks are there who have more than 4–5 dessiatins per head? But the landowners, who have thousands of dessiatins of their own land, wish besides to get into their hands the lands of the Cossack Army. According to the new Soviet laws, the lands of Cossack landowners must pass without compensation into the hands of the Cossack workers, the poorer Cossacks. You are being told that the Soviets wish to take away your lands from you. Who is frightening you? The rich Cossacks, who know that the Soviet AUTHORITY WISHES TO transfer the landowners’ lands to you. Choose then, Cossacks, for whom will you stand: for the Kornilovs and Kaledins, for the Generals and rich men, or for the Soviets of Peasants’, Soldiers’, Workers’ and Cossacks’ Deputies.
“THE COUNCIL OF PEOPLE’s COMMISSARS elected by the All–Russian Congress HAS PROPOSED TO ALL NATIONS AN IMMEDIATE ARMISTICE AND AN HONOURABLE DEMOCRATIC PEACE WITHOUT LOSS OR DETRIMENT TO ANY NATION. All the capitalists, landowners, Generals–Kornilovists have risen against the peaceful policy of the Soviets. The war was bringing them profits, power, distinctions. And to you, Cossack privates? You were perishing without reason, without purpose, like your brothers-soldiers and sailors. It will soon be three years and a half that this accursed war has gone on, a war devised by the capitalists and landowners of all countries for their own profit, their world robberies. To the toiling Cossacks the war has only brought ruin and death. The war has drained all the resources from Cossack farm life. The only salvation for the whole of our country and for the Cossacks in particular is a prompt and honest peace. The Council of People’s Commissars has declared to all Governments and peoples: We do not want other people’s property, and we do not wish to give away our own. Peace without annexations and without indemnities. Every nation must decide its own fate. There must be no oppressing of one nation by another. Such is the honest, democratic, People’s peace which the Council of People’s Commissars is proposing to all Governments, to all peoples, allies and enemies. And the results are visible: ON THE RUSSIAN FRONT AN ARMISTICE HAS BEEN CONCLUDED.
“The soldier’s and the Cossack’s blood is not flowing there any more. Now, Cossacks, decide: do you wish to continue this ruinous, senseless, criminal slaughter? Then support the Cadets, the enemies of the people, support Tchernov, Tseretelli, Skobeliev, who drove you into the offensive of July 1st; support Kornilov, who introduced capital punishment for soldiers and Cossacks at the front. BUT IF YOU WISH A PROMPT AND HONEST PEACE, THEN ENTER THE RANKS OF THE SOVIETS AND SUPPORT THE COUNCIL OF PEOPLE’s COMMISSARS.
“Your fate, Cossacks, lies in your own hands. Our common foes, the landowners, capitalists, officers-Kornilovists, bourgeois newspapers, are deceiving you and driving you along the road to ruin. In Orenburg, Dutov has arrested the Soviet and disarmed the garrison. Kaledin is threatening the Soviets in the province of the Don. He has declared the province to be in a state of war and is assembling his troops. Karaulov is shooting the local tribes in the Caucasus. The Cadet bourgeoisie is supplying them with its millions. Their common aim is to suppress the People’s Soviets, to crush the workers and peasants, to introduce again the discipline of the whip in the army, and to eternalise the bondage of the toiling Cossacks.
“Our revolutionary troops are moving to the Don and the Ural in order to put an end to this criminal revolt against the people. The commanders of the revolutionary troops have received orders not to enter into any negotiations with the mutinous Generals, to act decisively and mercilessly.
“Cossacks! On you depends now whether your brothers’ blood is to flow still. We are holding out our hand to you. Join the whole people against its enemies. Declare Kaledin, Kornilov, Dutov, Karaulov and all their aiders and abettors to be the enemies of the people, traitors and betrayers. Arrest them with your own forces and turn them over into the hands of the Soviet authority, which will judge them in open and public Revolutionary Tribunal. Cossacks! Form Soviets of Cossacks’ Deputies. Take into your toil-worn hands the management of all the affairs of the Cossacks. Take away the lands of your own wealthy landowners. Take over their grain, their inventoried property and live-stock for the cultivation of the lands of the toiling Cossacks, who are ruined by the war.
“Forward, Cossacks, to the fight for the common cause of the people!
“Long live the toiling Cossacks!
“Long live the union of the Cossacks, the soldiers, peasants and workers!
“Long live the power of the Soviets of Cossacks’, Soldiers’, Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.
“Down with the war! Down with the landowners and the Kornilovist–Generals!
“Long live Peace and the Brotherhood of peoples!”
Council of People’s Commissars.
“Comrades Workingmen and Workingwomen!
“A few days before the holidays, a strike has been declared by the teachers of the public schools. The teachers side with the bourgeoisie against the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government.
“Comrades, organise parents’ committees and pass resolutions against the strike of the teachers. Propose to the Ward Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, the Trade Unions, the Factory–Shop and Party Committees, to organise protest meetings. Arrange with your own resources Christmas trees and entertainments for the children, and demand the opening of the schools, after the holidays, at the date which will be set by the Duma.
“Comrades, strengthen your position in matters of public education, insist on the control of the proletarian organisations over the schools.”
Commission on Public Education attached to the Central City Duma.
The notes issued by Trotzky to the Allies and to the neutral powers, as well as the note of the Allied military Attachés to General Dukhonin, are too voluminous to give here. Moreover they belong to another phase of the history of the Soviet Republic, with which this book has nothing to do — the foreign relations of the Soviet Government. This I treat at length in the next volume, “Kornilov to Brest–Litovsk.”
“… The struggle for peace has met with the resistance of the bourgeoisie and the counter-revolutionary Generals…. From the accounts in the newspapers, at the Stavka of former Supreme Commander Dukhonin are gathering the agents and allies of the bourgeoisie, Verkhovski, Avksentiev, Tchernov, Gotz, Tseretelli, etc. It seems even that they want to form a new power against the Soviets.
“Comrades soldiers! All the persons we have mentioned have been Ministers already. They have acted in accord with Kerensky and the bourgeoisie. They are responsible for the offensive of July 1st and for the prolongation of the war. They promised the land to the peasants and then arrested the Land Committees. They reestablished capital punishment for soldiers. They obey the orders of French, English and American financiers….
“General Dukhonin, for having refused to obey orders of the Council of People’s Commissars, has been dismissed from his position as Supreme Commander…. For answer he is circulating among the troops the note from the Military Attachés of the Allied imperialist Powers, and attempting to provoke a counter-revolution….
“Do not obey Dukhonin! Pay no attention to his provocation! Watch him and his group of counter-revolutionary Generals carefully….”
“… The ex-Supreme Commander, General Dukhonin, for having opposed resistance to the execution of orders, for criminal action susceptible of provoking a new civil war, is declared enemy of the People. All persons who support Dukhonin will be arrested, without respect to their social or political position or their past. Persons equipped with special authority will operate these arrests. I charge General Manikhovsky with the execution of the above-mentioned dispositions….”
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59