Ten Days That Shook the World, by John Reed

Appendix to Chapter viii


Kerensky’s Advance

On November 9th Kerensky and his Cossacks arrived at Gatchina, where the garrison, hopelessly split into two factions, immediately surrendered. The members of the Gatchina Soviet were arrested, and at first threatened with death; later they were released on good behaviour.

The Cossack advance-guards, practically unopposed, occupied Pavlovsk, Alexandrovsk and other stations, and reached the outskirts of Tsarskoye Selo next morning — November 10th. At once the garrison divided into three groups — the officers, loyal to Kerenskly; part of the soldiers and non-commissioned officers, who declared themselves “neutral”; and most of the rank and file, who were for the Bolsheviki. The Bolshevik soldiers, who were without leaders or organisation, fell back toward the capital. The local Soviet also withdrew to the village of Pulkovo.

From Pulkovo six members of the Tsarskoye Selo Soviet went with an automobile-load of proclamations to Gatchina, to propagandise the Cossacks. They spent most of the day going around Gatchina from one Cossack barracks to another, pleading, arguing and explaining. Toward evening some officers discovered their presence and they were arrested and brought before General Krasnov, who said, “You fought against Kornilov; now you are opposing Kerensky. I’ll have you all shot!”

After reading aloud to them the order appointing him commander-in-chief of the Petrograd District, Krasnov asked if they were Bolsheviki. They replied in the affirmative — upon which Krasnov went away; a short time later an officer came and set them free, saying that it was by order of General Krasnov….

In the meanwhile delegations continued to arrive from Petrograd; from the Duma, the Committee for Salvation, and, last of all, from the Vikzhel. The Union of Railway Workers insisted that some agreement be reached to halt the civil war, and demanded that Kerensky treat with the Bolsheviki, and that he stop the advance on Petrograd. In case of refusal, the Vikzhel threatened a general strike at midnight of November 11th.

Kerensky asked to be allowed to discuss the matter with the Socialist Ministers and with the Committee for Salvation. He was plainly undecided.

On the 11th Cossack outposts reached Krasnoye Selo, from which the local Soviet and the heterogeneous forces of the Military Revolutionary Committee precipitately retired, some of them surrendering…. That night they also touched Pulkovo, where the first real resistance was encountered….

Cossacks deserters began to dribble into Petrograd, declaring that Kerensky had lied to them, that he had spread broadcast over the front proclamations which said that Petrograd was burning, that the Bolsheviki had invited the Germans to come in, and that they were murdering women and children and looting indiscriminately….

The Military Revolutionary Committee immediately sent out some dozens of “agitators,” with thousands of printed appeals, to inform the Cossacks of the real situation….


Proclamations of the Military Revolutionary Committee

“To All Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.

“The All–Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies charges the local Soviets immediately to take the most energetic measures to oppose all counter-revolutionary anti-Semitic disturbances, and all pogroms of whatever nature. The honour of the workers’, peasants’ and soldiers’ Revolution cannot tolerate any disorders….

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

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

“Comrades soldiers and Cossacks, on us falls the duty of keeping real revolutionary order.

“All revolutionary Russia and the whole world have their eyes on you….”

“The All–Russian Congress of Soviets decrees:

“To abolish capital punishment at the Front, which was reintroduced by Kerensky.

“Complete freedom of propaganda is to be re-established in the country. All soldiers and revolutionary officers now under arrest for so-called political ‘crimes’ are at once to be set free.”

“The ex-Premier Kerensky, overthrown by the people, refuses to submit to the Congress of Soviets and attempts to struggle against the legal Government elected by the All–Russian Congress — the Council of People’s Commissars. The Front has refused to aid Kerensky. Moscow has rallied to the new Government. In many cities (Minsk, Moghilev, Kharkov) the power is in the hands of the Soviets. No infantry detachment consents to march against the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government, which, in accord with the firm will of the Army and the people, has begun peace negotiations and has given the land to the peasants….

“We give public warning that if the Cossacks do not halt Kerensky, who has deceived them and is leading them against Petrograd, the revolutionary forces will rise with all their might for the defence of the precious conquests of the Revolution — Peace and Land.

“Citizens of Petrograd! Kerensky fled from the city, abandoning the authority to Kishkin, who wanted to surrender the capital to the Germans; Rutenburg, of the Black Band, who sabotaged the Municipal Food Supply; and Paltchinsky, hated by the whole democracy. Kerensky has fled, abandoning you to the Germans, to famine, to bloody massacres. The revolting people have arrested Kerensky’s Ministers, and you have seen how the order and supplying of Petrograd at once improved. Kerensky, at the demand of the aristocrat proprietors, the capitalists, speculators, marches against you for the purpose of giving back the land to the land-owners, and continuing the hated and ruinous war.

“Citizens of Petrograd! We know that the great majority of you are in favour of the people’s revolutionary authority, against the Kornilovtsi led by Kerensky. Do not be deceived by the lying declarations of the impotent bourgeois conspirators, who will be pitilessly crushed.

“Workers, soldiers, peasants! We call upon you for revolutionary devotion and discipline.

“Millions of peasants and soldiers are with us.

“The victory of the people’s Revolution is assured!”


Acts of the Council of People’s Commissars

In this book I am giving only such decrees as are in my opinion pertinent to the Bolshevik conquest of power. The rest belong to a detailed account of the Structure of the Soviet State, for which I have no place in this work. This will be dealt with very fully in the second volume, now in preparation, “Kornilov to Brest–Litovsk.”

Concerning Dwelling–Places

1. The independent Municipal Self–Governments have the right to sequestrate all unoccupied or uninhabited dwelling-places.

2. The Municipalities may, according to laws and arrangements established by them, install in all available lodgings citizens who have no place to live, or who live in congested or unhealthy lodgings.

3. The Municipalities may establish a service of inspection of dwelling-places, organise it and define its powers.

4. The Municipalities may issue orders on the institution of House Committees, define their organisation, their powers and give them juridical authority.

5. The Municipalities may create Housing Tribunals, define their powers and their authority.

6. This decree is promulgated by telegraph.

People’s Commissar of the Interior,


On Social Insurance

The Russian proletariat has inscribed on its banners the promise of complete Social Insurance of wage-workers, as well as of the town and village poor. The Government of the Tsar, the proprietors and the capitalists, as well as the Government of coalition and conciliation, failed to realise the desires of the workers with regard to Social Insurance.

The Workers’ and Peasants’ Government, relying upon the support of the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, announces to the working-class of Russia and to the town and village poor, that it will immediately prepare laws on Social Insurance based on the formulas proposed by the Labour organisations:

1. Insurance for all wage-workers without exception, as well as for all urban and rural poor.

2. Insurance to cover all categories of loss of working capacity, such as illness, infirmities, old age, childbirth, widowhood, orphanage, and unemployment.

3. All the costs of insurance to be charged to employers.

4. Compensation of at least full wages in all loss of working capacity and unemployment.

5. Complete workers’ self-government of all Insurance institutions.

In the name of the Government of the Russian Republic,

The People’s Commissar of Labour,

On Popular Education

Citizens of Russia!

With the insurrection of November 7th the working masses have won for the first time the real power.

The All–Russian Congress of Soviets has temporarily transferred this power both to its Executive Committee and to the Council of People’s Commissars.

By the will of the revolutionary people, I have been appointed People’s Commissar of Education.

The work of guiding in general the people’s education, inasmuch as it remains with the central government, is, until the Constituent Assembly meets, entrusted to a Commission on the People’s Education, whose chairman and executive is the People’s Commissar.

Upon what fundamental propositions will rest this State Commission? How is its sphere of competence determined?

The General Line of Educational Activity: Every genuinely democratic power must, in the domain of education, in a country where illiteracy and ignorance reign supreme, make its first aim the struggle against this darkness. It must acquire in the shortest time universal literacy, by organising a network of schools answering to the demands of modern pedagogics; it must introduce universal, obligatory and free tuition for all, and establish at the same time a series of such teachers’ institutes and seminaries as will in the shortest time furnish a powerful army of people’s teachers so necessary for the universal instruction of the population of our boundless Russia.

Decentralisation: The State Commission on People’s Education is by no means a central power governing the institutions of instruction and education. On the contrary, the entire school work ought to be transferred to the organs of local self-government. The independent work of the workers, soldiers and peasants, establishing on their own initiative cultural educational organisations, must be given full autonomy, both by the State centre and the Municipal centres.

The work of the State Commission serves as a link and helpmate to organise resources of material and moral support to the Municipal and private institutions, particularly to those with a class-character established by the workers.

The State Committee on People’s Education: A whole series of invaluable law projects was elaborated from the beginning of the Revolution by the State Committee for People’s Education, a tolerably democratic body as to its composition, and rich in experts. The State Commission sincerely desires the collaboration of this Committee.

It has addressed itself to the bureau of the Committee, with the request at once to convoke an extraordinary session of the Committee for the fulfilment of the following programme:

1. The revision of rules of representation in the Committee, in the sense of greater democratisation.

2. The revision of the Committee’s rights in the sense of widening them, and of converting the Committee into a fundamental State institute for the elaboration of law projects calculated to reorganise public instruction and education in Russia upon democratic principles.

3. The revision, jointly with the new State Commission, of the laws already created by the Committee, a revision required by the fact that in editing them the Committee had to take into account the bourgeois spirit of previous Ministries, which obstructed it even in this its narrowed form.

After this revision these laws will be put into effect without any bureau-cratic red tape, in the revolutionary order.

The Pedagogues and the Societists: The State Commission welcomes the pedagogues to the bright and honourable work of educating the people — the masters of the country.

No one measure in the domain of the people’s education ought to be adopted by any power without the attentive deliberation of those who represent the pedagogues.

On the other hand, a decision cannot by any means be reached exclusively through the cooperation of specialists. This refers as well to reforms of the institutes of general education.

The cooperation of the pedagogues with the social forces — this is how the Commission will work both in its own constitution, in the State Committee, and in all its activities.

As its first task the Commission considers the improvement of the teachers’ status, and first of all of those very poor though almost most important contributors to the work of culture — the elementary school teachers. Their just demands ought to be satisfied at once and at any cost. The proletariat of the schools has in vain demanded an increase of salary to one hundred rubles per month. It would be a disgrace any longer to keep in poverty the teachers of the overwhelming majority of the Russian people.

But a real democracy cannot stop at mere literacy, at universal elementary instruction. It must endeavour to organise a uniform secular school of several grades. The ideal is, equal and if possible higher education for all the citizens. So long as this idea has not been realised for all, the natural transition through all the schooling grades up to the university — a transition to a higher stage — must depend entirely upon the pupil’s aptitude, and not upon the resources of his family.

The problem of a genuinely democratic organisation of instruction is particularly difficult in a country impoverished by a long, criminal, imperialistic war; but the workers who have taken the power must remember that education will serve them as the greatest instrument in their struggle for a better lot and for a spiritual growth. However needful it may be to curtail other articles of the people’s budget, the expenses on education must stand high. A large educational budget is the pride and glory of a nation. The free and enfranchised peoples of Russia will not forget this.

The fight against illiteracy and ignorance cannot be confined to a thorough establishment of school education for children and youths. Adults, too, will be anxious to save themselves from the debasing position of a man who cannot read and write. The school for adults must occupy a conspicuous place in the general plan of popular instruction.

Instruction and Education: One must emphasise the difference between instruction and education.

Instruction is the transmission of ready knowledge by the teacher to his pupil. Education is a creative process. The personality of the individual is being “educated” throughout life, is being formed, grows richer in content, stronger and more perfect.

The toiling masses of the people — the workmen, the peasants, the soldiers — are thirsting for elementary and advanced instruction. But they are also thirsting for education. Neither the government nor the intellectuals nor any other power outside of themselves can give it to them. The school, the book, the theatre, the museum, etc., may here by only aids. They have their own ideas, formed by their social position, so different from the position of those ruling classes and intellectuals who have hitherto created culture. They have their own ideas, their own emotions, their own ways of approaching the problems of personality and society. The city labourer, according to his own fashion, the rural toiler according to his, will each build his clear world-conception permeated with the class-idea of the workers. There is no more superb or beautiful phenomenon than the one of which our nearest descendants will be both witnesses and participants: The building by collective Labour of its own general, rich and free soul.

Instruction will surely be an important but not a decisive element. What is more important here is the criticism, the creativeness of the masses themselves; for science and art have only in some of their parts a general human importance. They suffer radical changes with every far-reaching class upheaval.

Throughout Russia, particularly among the city labourers, but also among the peasants, a powerful wave of cultural educational movement has arisen; workers’ and soldiers’ organisations of this kind are multiplying rapidly. To meet them, to lend them support, to clear the road before them is the first task of a revolutionary and popular government in the domain of democratic education.

The Constituent Assembly will doubtless soon begin its work. It alone can permanently establish the order of national and social life in our country, and at the same time the general character of the organisation of popular education.

Now, however, with the passage of power to the Soviets, the really democratic character of the Constituent Assembly is assured. The line which the State Commission, relying upon the State Committee, will follow, will hardly suffer any modification under the influence of the Constituent Assembly. Without pre-determining it, the new People’s Government considers itself within its rights in enacting in this domain a series of measures which aim at enriching and enlightening as soon as possible the spiritual life of the country.

The Ministry: The present work must in the interim proceed through the Ministry of the People’s Education. Of all the necessary alterations in its composition and construction the State Commission will have charge, elected by the Executive Committee of the Soviets and the State Committee. Of course the order of State authority in the domain of the people’s education will be established by the Constituent Assembly. Until then, the Ministry must play the part of the executive apparatus for both the State Committee and the State Commission for People’s Education.

The pledge of the country’s safety lies in the cooperation of all its vital and genuinely democratic forces.

We believe that the energetic effort of the working people and of the honest enlightened intellectuals will lead the country out of its painful crisis, and through complete democracy to the reign of Socialism and the brotherhood of nations.

People’s Commissar on Education,


On the Order in Which the Laws Are to be Ratified and Published.

1. Until the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, the enacting and publishing of laws shall be carried out in the order decreed by the present Provisional Workmen’s and Peasants’ Government, elected by the All–Russian Congress of Workers’, Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.

2. Every bill is presented for consideration of the Government by the respective Ministry, signed by the duly authorised People’s Commissar; or it is presented by the legislative section attached to the Government, signed by the chief of the section.

3. After its ratification by the Government, the decree in its final edition, in the name of the Russian Republic, is signed by the president of the Council of People’s Commissars, or for him by the People’s Commissar who presented it for the consideration of the Government, and is then published.

4. The date of publishing it in the official “Gazette of the Provisional Workmen’s and Peasants’ Government,” is the date of its becoming law.

5. In the decree there may be appointed a date, other than the date of publication, on which it shall become law, or it may be promulgated by telegraph; in which case it is to be regarded in every locality as becoming law upon the publication of the telegram.

6. The promulgation of legislative acts of the government by the State Senate is abolished. The Legislative Section attached to the Council of People’s Commissars issues periodically a collection of regulations and orders of the government which possess the force of law.

7. The Central Executive Committee of the Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’, and Soldiers’ Deputies (Tsay-ee-kah) has at all times the right to cancel, alter or annul any of the Government decrees.

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



The Liquor Problem

Order Issued by the Military Revolutonary Committee

1. Until further order the production of alcohol and alcoholic drinks is prohibited.

2. It is ordered to all producers of alcohol and alcoholic drinks to inform not later than on the 27th inst. of the exact site of their stores.

3. All culprits against this order will be tried by a Military Revolutionary Court.



Order No. 2

From the Committee of the Finland Guard Reserve Regiment to all House Committees and to the citizens of Vasili Ostrov.

The bourgeoisie has chosen a very sinister method of fighting against the proletariat; it has established in various parts of the city huge wine depots, and distributes liquor among the soldiers, in this manner attempting to sow dissatisfaction in the ranks of the Revolutionary army.

It is herewith ordered to all house committees, that at 3 o’clock, the time set for posting this order, they shall in person and secretly notify the President of the Committee of the Finland Guard Regiment, concerning the amount of wine in their premises.

Those who violate this order will be arrested and given trial before a merciless court, and their property will be confiscated, and the stock of wine discovered will be


2 hours after this warning,

because more lenient measures, as experience has shown, do not bring the desired results.


Regimental Committee of the Finland Guard Regiment.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59