Reproduction of the painting by Vera Lyubimova “Arrival of V.I. Lenin to Petrograd on April 3 of the Year 1917”. Source: RIA News
Kerensky, having surrendered the capital to the Germans, hoped with their hands to deal with the Bolsheviks; himself three hours before the Revolution was dismissed
21 January, marks 90 years since the death of Lenin. Around the name of the founder of our state (and legally the Russian Federation inherits the USSR, and not the Russian Empire), several myths still exist. One of them - that supposedly the Revolution was carried out by the Bolsheviks with German money - “Russian Planet” had already analyzed in detail: no German funding was found. The second myth is the presentation of the October Revolution by the “coup”. We analyze it in more detail.
What was the Revolution for?
The “Declaration of Revolution”, adopted by a narrow circle of Bolsheviks on the night of October 23, seems to be well known. But anyway, we recall how it was taken and pay attention to an important point in it.
The collection of the top of the Bolshevik Party took place in the apartment of Nikolai Sukhanov, (Petrograd, Karpovka, 32, apartment 31). The secret meeting was initiated by Lenin, organized by Sverdlov, the day before notifying participants about it. It began on the evening of October 23 and ended ten hours later. Of the twenty-four members of the Central Committee, twelve were present: Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Sverdlov, Dzerzhinsky, Stalin, Uritzky, Bubnov, Sokolnikov, Lomov and Alexander Kollontai. Minutes of the meeting were kept by Varvara Yakovlev, and Sukhanov’s wife was carrying tea with sandwiches. Lenin was the last. He was dressed in the clothes of a Lutheran priest (as he was disguised from the secret police). Most of those present also changed their appearance (Zinoviev shaved off his thick beard, Stalin was in the dressing gown of a Tatar merchant). Since the meeting was to be kept in complete secrecy, the secretary of the meeting was ordered to make very brief recordings of speeches.
After a stormy debate, a document was adopted on the beginning of the Revolution. He was written on simple sheets of school notebooks. Here is its full text:
“The Central Committee recognizes that as the international position of the Russian revolution (the uprising navy in Germany, as an extreme manifestation of the growing worldwide socialist revolution throughout Europe, then a threat to the peace of the imperialists with the aim of strangling the revolution in Russia) - so is martial law (the undoubted decision of the Russian bourgeoisie and Kerensky with the KO to surrender Peter to the Germans) - so is the acquisition of the majority the proletarian party in the Soviets - all this in connection with the peasant uprising and with the turn of public confidence in our party (elections in Moscow), finally, the explicit preparation of the second Kornilovism (withdrawal of troops from St. Petersburg, transportation of Cossacks to Peter, the encirclement of Minsk by Cossacks, etc.), all this puts an armed uprising on the line of the day. Recognizing in this way that an armed uprising is inevitable and quite ripe, the Central Committee invites all party organizations to be guided by this and to discuss and resolve all practical issues from this point of view (the Congress of Soviets of the Northern Region, the withdrawal of troops from St. Petersburg, the speeches of Muscovites and Minsk dwellers, and so on). ” .
We specifically singled out in the text of the Declaration “the undoubted decision of the Russian bourgeoisie and Kerensky with the KO (company. - RP) to hand over Peter to the Germans”. Lenin in this case acted as a patriot of Russia. Was this suspicion of the Bolsheviks justified?
Kerensky as an ideologue of a separate peace with Germany
Historians still do not have a common opinion whether the Provisional Government was going to hand over Petrograd to the Germans - documents on this subject were passed on to the intelligence services of several countries, and these papers were either destroyed or have not been declassified yet. But indirectly, a great deal indicates that Kerensky and his government were ready (in relation to the time of writing the Bolshevik Declaration) to conduct separate negotiations with Germany in the coming days.
For example, Kerensky’s decision to weaken the capital’s garrison was very suspicious, sending the most combat-ready units from Petrograd to the front and intentions to leave the capital and transfer the government to Moscow instead of taking measures to protect the city.
Kerensky October 21 openly made it clear to the Entente that Russia is ready for negotiations with Germany. That day, he declared the conditions on which to end the war. The French, on the proposal of Kerensky, should have agreed that the future of Alsace and Lorraine should be decided through a plebiscite. Belgium will receive compensation through an international fund. Germany reserves all colonies. The Panama Canal is under US administration, the Suez and the Straits (Bosphorus and Dardanelles) are under England control. Secret diplomacy is canceled. Peace negotiations will be conducted by delegates elected by the parliaments of their countries.
Alexander Kerensky in Petrograd, August 21 1917. Photo: RIA News
Kerensky’s proposal caused a shock in the governments of the Entente countries. “Even in the event of Germany’s victory, the West could not expect worse conditions,” wrote the English ambassador to Russia, Buchanan. The pacifist radicalism of the Provisional Government raised the question: should the West, in general, discuss the future with a representative of Kerensky.
American whip for Russians
British Foreign Minister Balfour said to Russian Ambassador Nabokov: “We should not create a precedent for negotiations, when in fact private individuals receive exclusive prerogatives. Such a way of doing business could have undesirable consequences. ” To whom did Balfour's cryptic phrase belong? Nabokov later argued - to the Americans. In September - October 1917 political circles of the Entente and Russia were struck by the rapprochement of Russia with the United States, which became the main trading partner. In 1917, the Americans exported goods to $ 400 million (growth from $ 25 million in 1913 year) to the European part of Russia - for modern money it is about $ 9 billion. Exports included military materials, agricultural equipment, cars, locomotives, cotton , consumer goods.
The American ambassador to Russia was David Francis at the time - an elderly, stubborn banker from St. Louis, a sample of the worst characters from Theodore Dreiser's books about the "grimaces of capitalism." “I (USA. - RP) need manganese and copper from Russia! Russia itself is needed as a market for our products. This is Klondike, the Russians only need a whip to make it all happen! ”- these words were transmitted by the secretary’s agent of English intelligence to the American ambassador, the future well-known writer Somerset Maugham (which will be discussed below).
Maugham also reported to the center that “Americans are pushing Kerensky’s cabinet to negotiate with the Germans.” He also pointed out that Raymond Robins, who is formally one of the leaders of the American Red Cross, has a great influence on Kerensky, but in reality he is a major in military intelligence.
Later, the financial details of the cooperation between Americans and those close to Kerensky became clear. So, back in the spring of 1917, Foreign Minister Tereshchenko received a grant from the USA for $ 1 million, as they would say today, on the PR of American ideas in Russia.
Later, in the 1960s, Kerensky will tell you that Russia’s 20 of October 1917 received a separate peace proposal from the Austrians through the Swedish embassy, which meant that Turkey and Bulgaria were moving away from Germany. And then, if it turns out to make peace with Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria, "Germany is not going anywhere either."
War Ministers refused to prepare coup
But the world with the Germans loomed somewhere far away, and here and now Kerensky had to do something with the Bolsheviks preparing to seize power in Petrograd. In early October, the ruler of Russia instructed the minister of war in the cabinet of the Provisional Government, Alexander Verkhovsky, to prepare a plan (no matter how crazy it might sound) of the “capture of Petrograd by the Germans”. Kerensky hoped with Germany’s hands to end the Bolsheviks, then conclude a separate peace, after which the Germans would leave the capital. “Two or three weeks will be enough for the Germans,” later recalled the words of Kerensky Verkhovsky.
This actually meant a coup in Russia, and Verkhovsky was afraid to take on such responsibility. 18 October at a meeting of the Provisional Government, he proposed to discuss the idea of a separate peace with Germany, but did not find understanding from the other ministers. Verkhovsky, as he explained, “could not become a traitor to Russia,” and surrendered Kerensky’s plan to the Bolsheviks. 21 October, he was dismissed from the post of Minister of War. Allied Ambassadors Kerensky said that Verkhovsky was planning to seize power.
In place of Verkhovsky came General Alexey Manikovsky. But he also refused to let the Germans into Petrograd, which was later appreciated by the Bolsheviks: in 1918, Manikovsky became the head of the Academy of the Red Army, when he died, in 1922, the Academy of the Red Army headed Verkhovsky. The last two military ministers of the Provisional Government laid the foundations of military science in the Red Army, and their students again beat the Germans, already during the Great Patriotic War.
The British played their own game
Kerensky’s plans to conclude a separate peace with Germany and her allies, except for the Bolsheviks, were also carried out by the British. The clandestine operation in this area was Somerset Maugham, the future famous writer.
A special place in Moham’s plans was occupied by “Department No. 3”, designed to fight the Bolsheviks through the Mensheviks. An English intelligence officer wrote to London:
“Department No. 3 will have to support a moderate socialist party, known as the Mensheviks. This party is opposed to the Bolsheviks, or extremists, and advocates the reorganization of the army and the vigorous conduct of the war. However, it is absolutely liberal and even socialist in nature. But it stands out for its anti-prussiness. This department will produce a front-line newspaper for distribution among the soldiers in order to counter the very dangerous Bolshevik newspaper that they now publish there. ”
Somerset Maugham. Photo: AP
The British allocated $ 500 thousand (approximately $ 12 million at the current exchange rate) to finance the Mensheviks.
All of these plans — both Kerensky and the British — albeit in general terms, were known to Lenin (by the way, the accusation of 1930 processes of the Menshevik leaders for spying on England might have been based on real documents of that time, 1917 of the year). October 12 1917, despite opposition from the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, Petrograd Soviet, under the pretext of protecting the capital from the proposed surrender to the Germans, marked the beginning of the creation of the Military Revolutionary Committee (WRC), which became the legal headquarters for preparing the uprising. At an extended meeting of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, Lenin declared: “The bourgeoisie wants to surrender Peter. We can save from this only by taking Petrograd in our hands. Power must be taken immediately, every lost day can be disastrous. History I will not forgive if we now do not take power. "
When Lenin in the pre-revolutionary days of October 1917 of the year said that “the delay of death is like,” he meant to a large extent precisely the Kerensky plan for the surrender of Petrograd to the Germans. All the other threats of the Revolution — the position of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, the introduction into the city of units loyal to Kerensky — had no real power. For example, the maximum that Kerensky could count on was the introduction of the faithful Cossacks into Petrograd 690. War Minister Manikovsky admitted to the governor of Russia that he did not have more faithful troops (not counting junkers and funny troops in the form of a women's battalion in the capital).
Second Provisional Government of Lenin
Now, about who allegedly overthrew Lenin and the Bolsheviks of October 25 1917.
October 24 Kerensky, making sure that neither the Chief nor the General Staffs are no longer his assistants, went to the Mariinsky Palace, where he met the Provisional Council of the Russian Republic (the Pre-Parliament is the legitimate legislature in Russia - RP) to seek political support against the Bolshevik conspiracy. His speech was distinguished by concreteness, which was noted even by the constant critic of the Minister-President Kadet Nabokov.
Kerensky proposed knocking out of the hands of the Bolsheviks two of their main slogans — on land and on peace. The land issue, he said, should be urgently referred to the local land committees already established in the spring of 1917, without waiting for the Constituent Assembly to convene. And the question of peace, Kerensky continued, to raise at the upcoming 8 — 9 of the Paris Conference of the Entente countries in November. Then he attacked the Bolsheviks: “This is an attempt to raise the mob against the existing order of things!” Kerensky ended his speech with the call “Homeland or Death!” The speech was met with stormy applause from the Pre-Parliament.
Kerensky did not doubt that after a brief debate, the pre-parliament would overwhelmingly vote for a vote of confidence and give his government a blank check to defeat the Bolsheviks. However, a terrible blow awaited him: October 24 20 30 minutes, literally three hours before the start of the Revolution in St. Petersburg, 123 votes against 102 when 26 abstained from the Pre-Parliament denied confidence to Kerensky and his government. Leaving the meeting, he said: “The government will resign tomorrow morning.”
In other words, if we consider the Pre-Parliament as the only legitimate body between the finally dissolving 1 (14) of September IV of the State Duma and the Constituent Assembly still not elected, the first Provisional Government was dismissed by this resolution of parliamentarians. This made it easier for the Bolsheviks to formalize their military coup as the formation of the second Provisional Government (Council of People's Commissars) in the form of the Soviet government, approved by the II All-Russian Congress of Councils. De jure and de facto, Lenin 25 October 1917 of the year became the leader of the second Provisional Government of Russia.
Thus, the Bolsheviks saved Petrograd from the German occupation, and the country gained legitimate power (at least as legitimate as the first Provisional Government, which also came as a result of the coup).