Not a protest of the people, but a betrayal at the top led Tsarist Russia to revolution
The publicistic stamp "Stupidity or treason?" Is well known to modern man. Perhaps this is one of the oldest publicistic memes, which for many years survived its creator - the leader of the Cadets, the deputy of the pre-Revolutionary Duma Pavel Milyukov. In November 1916, he made a speech in which the phrase "Stupidity or treason?" Was repeated with a refrain. As many researchers have noted, what Milyukov said literally blew up public opinion and became a prologue to the overthrow of the king. What is so terrible reported Milyukov? Here is an excerpt from the transcript of his scandalous speech in the Duma:
“So, as soon as I moved the border, a few days after Sazonov’s resignation, first Swedish and then German and Austrian newspapers brought a number of news about how Sturmer’s appointment met Germany. That's what the newspapers said. I will read excerpts without comment.
Of particular interest was the editorial in the “Neye Freie Press” from 25 June. Here is what is said in this article: “No matter how old Sturmer (laughter) becomes Russified, it’s still rather strange that a German (laughter) will lead a foreign policy in a war that emerged from pan-Slavist ideas.
Minister-President Stürmer is free from the delusions that led to the war. He did not promise, gentlemen, note that without Constantinople and the straits he would never make peace. In the person of Stunner, an instrument was acquired that can be used at will. Thanks to the policy of weakening the Duma, Stürmer became a man who satisfies the secret desires of the right, who does not at all want an alliance with England. He will not say, like Sazonov, that the Prussian military helmet should be neutralized. ”
Where did the German and Austrian newspapers get this assurance that Stürmer, fulfilling the will of the right, would act against England and against the continuation of the war? From the information of the Russian press. A note was written in the Moscow newspapers about the extreme-right note (Zamyslovsky from his seat: “And every time it turns out to be a lie!”), Delivered to the Headquarters in July before Sturmer’s second trip. This note states that, although it is necessary to fight until the final victory, you need to end the war in a timely manner, otherwise the fruits of victory will be lost as a result of the revolution (Zamyslovsky from the spot: “Signatures, signatures!”).
This is an old topic for our Germanophiles, but it develops in a number of new attacks.
Zamyslovsky (with a place): Signatures! Let him say the signature!
Chairman: Duma member Zamyslovsky, I ask you not to speak from the floor.
Pn Milyukov: I quote Moscow newspapers.
Zamyslovsky (from a place): Slanderer! Say the captions. Do not slander!
Presiding Officer: Member of the State Duma Zamyslovsky, I ask you not to speak from the floor.
Zamyslovsky: Signatures, slanderer!
Presiding Officer: Member of the State Duma Zamyslovsky, I urge you to order.
Vishnevsky (from a place): We require a signature. Let not slander.
Presiding Officer: Member of the State Duma Vishnevsky, I urge you to order.
Pn Milyukov: I said my source - these are Moscow newspapers, of which there is a reprint in foreign newspapers. I convey those impressions that abroad have determined the opinion of the press on the appointment of Sturmer.
Zamyslovsky (from a place): The slanderer, that's who you are! ”
So, Miliukov, with a kind of childlike uncomplicatedness, brings down on the audience a “revelation” drawn from German newspapers. And so that no one at all should have any doubt that the newspapers of the enemy state write “the truth”, cites an even more “weighty” source - the Moscow newspapers. Right now, they would not even laugh at such a figure - they would simply not be taken seriously at all. During the war, newspapers, that is, propaganda of the enemy, are openly quoted, the Germans themselves took it from the Moscow press, and the piquancy of the situation is that the Russian press was largely controlled by opponents of state power and acted as an instrument of revolutionaries. The circle is closed.
And from the very beginning, Milyukov was called a slanderer, demanding signatures on documents that could be considered strong evidence of his words. As we see, Milyukov does not have any reliable information, he was laughed at in the Duma. However, this senseless chatter caused a sensation. The public believed that betrayal really matured at the top. The Germans, realizing that they were losing the war, hoped for a split within the Entente, they tried to create the impression that their opponents were secretly negotiating peace with Germany. And Miliukov awkwardly tries to present the theses of German newspapers as the ultimate truth. Imagine that around the year 1944, a Soviet party leader (for example, Mikhail Kalinin) will publicly read out Goebbels’s statements and accuse the head of government of being stupid or treason. How long after that will Kalinin be free? I think it will not take an hour, how they will arrest him and quickly put him against the wall. And in tsarist Russia, the “backward”, “prison of the nations”, Miliukov didn’t just get away with such talk, but also made him popular throughout the country.
Subsequently, Milyukov admitted that during the war he had read an article in an American journal that said that Germany was offering Russia proposals for peace negotiations. At the same time, he added that this article was a reprint of material from the Swiss newspaper Berner Tagwacht, the official organ of the Social Democrats of Switzerland. Milyukov admitted that what he read seemed plausible to him, although he did not check the source of this message. The funny thing is that similar articles by Berner Tagwacht have been published several times, but when the Bern newspaper Tagglatt asked to disclose the sources of this sensational information, she was denied this.
Interestingly, Russian diplomacy has denied the information spread by Berner Tagwacht, and the newspaper soon ceased to publish these rumors. And here's another interesting detail: Robert Grimm was the editor of “Berner Tagwacht”. He was the one who had to accompany Lenin on his famous trip in the spring of 1917 to Russia through the territory of Germany in a “sealed train”, but then he was replaced by Platten. In the summer, 1917 Grimm personally went to Russia to promote a separate peace with Germany. By the way, the employee of “Berner Tagwacht” was Lenin's associate Karl Radek, the future participant in the negotiations during the conclusion of the Brest Peace, a member of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party.
It was from such political garbage dumps that Miliukov selected information for his loud “revelations”.
Regarding the activities of Milyukov in those years, we have valuable evidence of Vasilyev, the former director of the Police Department:
“On November 1, the session of the Duma began, and from that moment onwards violent attacks on the government followed one after the other. Less than a week later, the Duma provoked the fall of the chairman of the Council of Ministers, Sturmer. I still remember how Miliukov appeared on the podium, addressed the deputies and said that he had a document in his pocket containing irrefutable evidence of the chairman of the Council of Ministers’s betrayal and help from Germany, but that he was prepared to provide this document only to the judicial authorities.
Later, the development of events showed how many real reasons this monstrous accusation had. Stürmer died in torment, while Milyukov is still alive and well and does not suffer from remorse of conscience; but Milyukov never presented any of the evidence mentioned, for the simple reason that they did not exist. Later, the Provisional Government appointed an investigative commission, and the chairman of this commission specifically informed Sturmer’s wife that the most thorough investigation of the charges against the former chairman of the Council of Ministers did not work because of the absence of any evidence.
After Sturmer was eliminated, the Duma continued its attacks, and every day some official was accused of treason and espionage; even the empress did not escape shameless slander. Thus, Guchkov, Milyukov, Polivanov and the company diligently prepared the road to disaster. Storner's successor was A.F. Trepov, but he, too, was helpless, and the Duma continued its persecution and intrigue.
Miliukov, who was patronized by the British Ambassador Buchanan, often spent his evenings at the English embassy. If the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs ever allows the publication of documents from its archives, this will illuminate Milyukov's “patriotism” in a new and especially favorable manner.
Characteristically, in December 1916, Foreign Minister Pokrovsky delivered a speech in the Duma about Russia's irrevocable intention to continue the war to victory: “... hegemony. All of us are equally imbued with the vital need for us to bring the war to a victorious end and will not let us stop any tricks of our enemies on this way (quoted on the work of Ayrapetov "On the Eve. Generals, Liberals and Entrepreneurs before February").
Who remembers these words of Pokrovsky now? Perhaps no one, except for a narrow group of specialists, but Miliukov's nonsense is still used by publicists as evidence of the "impasse of tsarism."
After the victory in the war, the revolutionary gang was waited for by the court and the prison, which, however, forced them to hastily prepare a rebellion. In their anti-state rage, they went too far, and now there was no going back. The game went right through: either they or the king. And here a natural question arises: why did the king not deal with the revolutionaries with harsh measures? They were no geniuses of conspiracy. Overfishing and shooting them would not be difficult. Why did Nicholas not do this? Showed unforgivable softness or psevdogumanizm? Nonsense is all. The tsar was not an idiot and understood perfectly well what was going on and what kind of sea of blood the “well-wishers” had prepared for Russia. And the thing is this.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the main geopolitical rivals of Britain were Germany and Russia. And not just competitors, but mortal enemies. The English establishment planned to eliminate them. But in what sequence to act? The problem for London was that the destruction of Germany dramatically increased Russia's capabilities - and vice versa. And to eliminate Germany and Russia at the same time even the British Empire lacked strength. There were two levers to influence Russia - a local fifth column and a direct military invasion. If Nicholas II destroys revolutionaries, then the British can provoke a war against Russia, guaranteeing Germany non-intervention and thereby unleashing her hands.
As a result, Russia alone will fight against Germany and Austria-Hungary, which together surpassed our country in military and economic potential and were comparable to us in terms of population. For us, such a war would have been a disaster. Do not forget about Turkey, which in such conditions could easily join the anti-Russian bloc.
Yes, Germany’s victory over Russia would be expensive, and the British would get a breather. But, nevertheless, in the medium term, they would still have to meet with the sharply intensified German power. That is, this option is not very happy with the British. It would be more profitable for London to use Russia against Germany first, and then, at the last moment, to use its fifth column already against Russia. Nicholas II understood this perfectly well, but it was impossible to destroy revolutionaries before the war, and at the beginning of the war too: after all, the British could at any time order their agents to deploy revolutionary terror and sabotage, as was the case during the Russian-Japanese war.
In a situation where Germany is full of strength, it was very dangerous for our country. But when the victory of the Entente (and therefore, Russia) will already become obvious, when the potential of Germany will be largely squandered, the revolutionaries would not be happy. But the British easily counted this option. It was here that the game began to race, and it must be understood that the king had a task of incredible complexity. It was very difficult to choose the exact moment of hitting the revolutionaries. This is exactly the case when “yesterday — early, tomorrow — late.” But when will “today” come? Exactly unknown ...