Military Review

In the spring of 1918, the Black Guard existed in Moscow

In the spring of 1918, the Black Guard existed in Moscow

One of the first against the Bolsheviks with weapons anarchists who did not accept the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat

Almost immediately after the October Revolution 1917, the Bolsheviks began a struggle with the left opposition. At the first stage, the most active opponents were the anarchists who created the Black Guard throughout Russia - armed left-wing formations, alternative to the Red Guard. In the spring of 1918, the Bolsheviks were forced to start an open war against their former allies. The struggle between the Bolsheviks and the anarchists was one of the forerunners of the outbreak of the Civil War.

At the beginning of the 20th century, leftist movement flourished in Russia. It was represented by three main directions: Marxist, Social Revolutionary and Anarchist. The first were formed into influential and competing among themselves left parties — the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (the RSDLP; later split into factions of the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks) and the Socialist Revolutionary Party (AKP; the Social Revolutionaries).

Russian social democrats held Marxist positions and relied on the urban working class. The Social Revolutionaries were the heirs of the 19th century populists, who considered the Russian peasantry to be the foundation of building a just society. From here comes the western term for the ideological platform of the Social Revolutionaries — agrarian socialism. Back in 1880 — 90-s, the ideology of the Social Revolutionaries began to blur, which led to the expansion of the circle of supporters of the AKP.

Independently in this row were the national left parties, which in their programs combined the demands of equality, justice, and national self-determination. Most of these parties existed in Finland, Ukraine, Armenia, Poland. And also they actively developed in the Jewish and Muslim environment.

Against this background, anarchists stood out. The Russian Empire was the birthplace of the leading anarchist ideologues - Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin. Anarchism in Russia originated simultaneously with populism, and in many respects came from the local socio-political context. Thus, Bakunin, together with the populists, relied on the peasantry, but focused on the rebellious and anti-state component of rural life in Russia. At the same time, just like social democracy, Russian anarchism was a phenomenon and introduced. Western utopian socialists, such as Saint-Simon, Fourier and Proudhon, had no less influence on anarchists than Bakunin and Kropotkin. Such a foundation in theory allowed anarchism to become an influential political movement in Russia.

Military Revolutionary Committee, located in the building of the Moscow Polytechnic Museum, 1917 year. Photo: RIA News

But in practice it was a little different. Up until 1917, anarchists existed only as different groups. In total, they were represented in 218 communities, and their groups included up to 10 thousands of people. At the same time, the range of their activities, despite the lack of centralized control like the other parties, was no less wide. Anarchists conducted agitational work among the workers, artisans and peasants, organized strikes and carried out the Aksy (expropriations - forcible seizure of property from representatives of the propertied classes). The centers of anarchism were the Black Sea cities and territories of present-day Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus. Nevertheless, until 1917, the anarchists did not succeed in creating if not a party, then a single organization (the very reason for this was the ideology of anarchism, advocating maximum autonomy).

The February revolution of 1917 strengthens the position of all left-wing parties and movements, which in the situation of socio-political and economic crisis began to enjoy the growing support of the population. Anarchists in this situation took the most radical position together with the Bolsheviks. Both of them argued that the revolution is not yet over, it requires continuation. Already in April, anarchists begin open armed actions against the Provisional Government. And in July, they are actively involved in the preparation of the armed demonstration of the soldiers of 2 — 4 in July, agitating “for overthrowing the 10 of the capitalist ministers” and seizing factories and plants in full working order. In the fall of 1917, most of the anarchists, armed with the slogan that socialism was a necessary stage on the way of preparing people for anarchy, supported the Bolsheviks in the overthrow of the Provisional Government.

But by the end of 1917, the anarchists introduced the term "commissar" into wide circulation after the Bolsheviks refused in November to the proposal to create a "homogeneous socialist government" of representatives of all left-wing parties and movements. The Bolsheviks called this proposal an attempt to overthrow the dictatorship of the proletariat. At the II Congress of Soviets, members of the anarchist faction openly called Lenin a red militarist, indicating that the power of the Bolsheviks rests solely on bayonets. The anarchists did not support the Bolshevik negotiations with Germany about a separate peace, which started the negotiations, believing that the continuation of the war would more quickly lead to the destruction of the old order in Europe. Anarchists responded to the creation of the Red Army's 1918 in February with the slogan “To Arms!”, Advocating the widespread organization of rebel squads.

In contrast to the Red Guard, which was transformed into the Red Army, the anarchists began to design their armed units into the Black Guard as early as 1917. They were formed all over the country, but the Bolsheviks were most worried about her appearance in Moscow, where they transferred the capital in the spring of 1918.

Parade of the Red Army on the Khodynka field in Moscow, 1917 year. Photo: RIA News

During the revolutionary events, the Moscow Federation of Anarchist Groups (IFAH) was formed. When Sovnarkom moved to Moscow, the IFAH turned out to be one of the most influential political forces, in an organized manner opposing the Bolsheviks in the city at that moment. It consisted of more than 50 groups called "Hurricane", "Avant-garde", "Autonomy", "Smerch", "Lava" and so on. There were national and professional groups. Anarchists were based in Moscow requisitioned mansions 25.

The transfer of the government to Moscow set the Bolsheviks the task of “restoring order” - the elimination of the metropolitan opposition to the dictatorship of the proletariat. This has led to the fact that the position of the IFAH has only grown. Now the former rivals of anarchists, the Left Social Revolutionaries, see in the Black Guard the only force that can repel the actions of the Chekists, who have launched a struggle against dissent. So, the Social Revolutionaries sent officers to 70 to reinforce the Black Guard by experienced military.

Very quickly, the situation began to unfold in the direction of an open collision.

The Bolsheviks began their offensive with an information campaign. As often happens in stories, the revolution led to rampant crime and the spread of street violence, which had a purely criminal nature. The Bolshevik press has openly blamed the anarchists for this. The reason given themselves proponents of anarchy. In the ideology of anarchism, there is the thesis that crime is a product of the capitalist world, and the criminal is his victim; therefore, participation in the revolution was viewed as a kind of correction. This attracted many real criminals to the ranks of the Black Guard. However, it should be noted that such cadres were met in absolutely all large military formations of the Civil War, including the Red Army.

After the information campaign began, 5 March 1918, the IFAH began to form a single command of the Black Guard and to remove criminal elements from its ranks. Now the Black Guard could be entered only after the recommendation of the anarchists. Black Guard detachments were forbidden to participate in requisition. The IAFH publicly stated that criminals who call themselves anarchists are not related to her and she is not responsible for their actions.

The Bolsheviks continued to hurry with the destruction of the Black Guard. They were not unfoundedly worried that it was anarchist armed groups that would be the basis for overthrowing the Bolsheviks in Moscow. In their absence, the Moscow opposition will weaken (which will happen in reality during the uprising of the Left SRs in July 1918).

Dzerzhinsky 12 on April 1918 of the year ordered Chekists to crush anarchist bases in Moscow. The most difficult were the taking of mansions on Malaya Dmitrovka (the center of the IFAH) and Povarskaya Street. Other mansions managed to take without significant resistance. During the night, 40 anarchists and 12 security officers died.

Felix Dzerzhinsky, 1921 year. Photo: TASS photo chronicle.

In the mansions a lot of compromising evidence was found against the anarchists. Since the re-registration of members of the Black Guard was a little over a month, a lot of criminals were caught in the mansions, under which there were stolen jewels. This was used in the press to explain the defeat of the IFAS and the elimination of the Black Guard.

Dzerzhinsky personally spoke about the 15 in April in a press. “We didn’t mean and didn’t want to fight against ideological anarchists. And now all ideological anarchists, detained on the night of April 12, we release, and if, perhaps, some of them will be brought to justice, then only for covering up crimes committed by criminal elements that have penetrated into anarchist organizations. There are very few ideological anarchists among the persons who were detained by us, among the hundreds, ”the head of the All-Russian Cheka Committee wrote.

In total, about 500 people were arrested, of which only a few dozen were released. Among them was IFAI Secretary, Lev Black.

After the events in Moscow, the Cheka and the Red Army disarmed the Black Guard throughout the territory under its control.

The events of spring 1918, at the time, relieved the tension between anarchists and Bolsheviks. But in September 1919, anarchists organized an explosion in the Moscow city committee of the Bolsheviks. After that, the fate of the Moscow anarchists was sealed. Most ideological anarchists who escaped punishment in the spring of 1918, were arrested. Three years later, the stripping was repeated - Lev Cherny was shot.

By this time, the Makhnovist movement had also been crushed, and the Black Guards from all over Russia joined the ranks of it.

The remnants of the anarchist movement that directly inherited groups of the beginning of the 20th century existed until 1929, when the full composition of the All-Russian Public Committee for the Perpetuation of the Memory of P. A. Kropotkin was arrested.

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  1. parusnik
    parusnik 16 August 2014 10: 20
    In a country of devastation, war ... and power must produce dissent, and for what does not produce, it is already bad ..
    Well ... let's look into the block of centuries ... During the revolution in the Netherlands and after its victory ... the winners did not breed dissent, but fought fiercely, in which case the fire, but the fire as an extreme measure ... Oliver Cromwell, harsh and cruel dealt with the "equalizers" - demanded the continuation of the revolution ... During the period of the revolution and the war for independence of the United States, revolutionaries and democrats fought fiercely against loyalists (colonists who were against independence) and more leftist groups that demanded real "equality" and "brotherhood "... I don't even talk about the revolution in France ... Napoleon came to power and dispersed everyone: the Girondins, Jacobins and others ..
  2. Gamdlislyam
    Gamdlislyam 16 August 2014 10: 42
    The article by Sergei Prostakov is interesting and informative for those who are far from the history of the events of 1917 and the civil war. How is educational program accepted.
    But I can't do without a "fly in the ointment". I understand that in the format of this article, the detailed history of the struggle of the Bolsheviks and anarchists is difficult. There were periods in it when anarchists and Bolsheviks were allies (albeit temporarily), there were moments when they acted as irreconcilable enemies. The Bolsheviks in this struggle were a united force, with a strong centralized power structure. The anarchists never created a single structure. Rather, they were disparate groups that centered around strong, charismatic leaders (who clashed with each other for influence rather than interact). This made it possible for the Bolsheviks to use the anarchists for their own purposes, and when they were no longer needed, then suppress this movement.
    From my point of view, Avtot failed to be unprincipled. he acted as anarchist attorney. The anarchists were not white and fluffy (even several dozen ideological). And the anarchist groups themselves very quickly turned into gangs.
  3. Vadim2013
    Vadim2013 16 August 2014 13: 09
    The article is very short. In Europe, anarchist groups exist and operate to this day.
    1. svp67
      svp67 16 August 2014 13: 21
      Quote: Vadim2013
      The article is very short. In Europe, anarchist groups exist and operate to this day.
      So in the history of our country, they were noted not only in the events in Petrograd ... Batko Makhno, after all, was an anarchist. And if you really disassemble, then in this regard, the history of the war in Spain is very interesting, that's where units under the "black flag ..." played a big role ...
  4. Vadim2013
    Vadim2013 16 August 2014 14: 20
    Quote: svp67
    Batko Makhno, after all, was an anarchist. And if you really disassemble, then in this regard, the history of the war in Spain is very interesting, that's where units under the "black flag ..." played a big role ...

    Nestor Makhno in exile was supported by European anarchists. They invited him to Spain for further activities.