THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION
(October 24 and 25, 1917, in Petrograd)
The most important of the events which hastened the October uprising were: the intention of the Provisional Government (after having surrendered Riga) to surrender Petrograd, the Kerensky Government’s preparations to remove to Moscow, the decision of the command of the old army to dispatch the entire Petrograd garrison to the front and leave the capital undefended, and, lastly, the feverish activity of the Black Congress33 in Moscow, headed by Rodzyanko—activity for organizing the counter-revolution. All this, coupled with the growing economic disruption and the unwillingness of the men at the front to continue the war, made a swift and efficiently organized uprising inevitabile as the only way out of the existing situation. The Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party had already in the closing days of September decided to mobilize all the forces of the Party for the organization of a successful uprising. With that in view, the Central Committee resolved to set up a Revolutionary Military Committee in Petrograd, to secure the retention of the Petrograd garrison in the capital, and to convene an All-Russian Congress of Soviets. Only such a congress could succeed to power. The preliminary winning of the Moscow and Petrograd Soviets, the most influential in the rear and at the front, was an indispensabile part of the general plan of organization of the uprising. Acting on the instructions of the Central Committee, Rabochy Put,34 the Central Organ of the Party, began openly to call for an uprising, preparing the workers and peasants for the decisive battle.
The first open clash with the Provisional Government arose over the banning of the Bolshevik newspaper, Rabochy Put. It was shut down by order of the Provisional Government. It was re-opened in revolutionary fashion, by order of the Revolutionary Military Committee. The seals were removed and the commissars of the Provisional Government were sent off. That was on October 24. On October 24, commissars of the Revolutionary Military Committee forcibly ejected the representatives of the Provisional Government from a number of major government institutions, which resulted in the latter
coming under the control of the Revolutionary Military Committee and the disorganization of the whole machinery of the Provisional Government. That same day (October 24) the entire garrison, all the regiments in Petrograd, decisively went over to the Revolutionary Military Committee, with the sole exception of some of the military cadet schools and an armoured car battalion.
The Provisional Government showed signs of irresolution. Only in the evening did it dispatch shock battalions to occupy the bridges and succeeded in raising some of them. The Revolutionary Military Committee countered this by sending sailors and Vyborg Red Guards, who removed and dispersed the shock battalions and occupied the bridges themselves. With this, the open uprising began.
A number of our regiments were dispatched with orders to cordon off the whole area around the Staff Headquarters and the Winter Palace. In the Winter Palace the Provisional Government was in session. The passing of the armoured car battalion to the side of the Revolutionary Military Committee (late at night on October 24) hastened the success of the uprising.
On October 25 the Congress of Soviets opened, and to it the Revolutionary Military Committee turned over the power it had won. Early in the morning of October 26, after the bombardment of the Winter Palace and the Staff Headquarters by the Aurora, and after skirmishes between Soviet troops and military cadets in front of the Winter Palace, the Provisional Government capitulated. The moving spirit of the revolution from beginning to end was the Central Committee of the Party, headed by Comrade Lenin. Vladimir Ilyich was then living in
hiding in Petrograd, in the Vyborg District. On theevening of October 24 he was called to the Smolny to take charge of the movement. An outstanding role in the October uprising was played by the sailors of the Baltic Fleet and the Red Guards from the Vyborg District. Owing to their extraordinary courage, the role of the Petrograd garrison was confined chiefly to rendering moral and to some extent military support to the vanguard fighters.
Pravda, No. 241,
November 6, 1918
Signed: J. Stalin
The Black Congress—a conference of big landlords, manufacturers, clergymen and army generals and officers held in Moscow on October 12-14, 1917, under the chairmanship of Rodzyanko, with the object of uniting the forces of counter-revolution for the struggle against Bolshevism and the mounting revolution.
Put (Worker’s Path)—a newspaper, the Central Organ of the Bolshevik Party replacing Pravda when the latter was closed down by the Provisional Government in the July days of 1917. It appeared from September 3 to October 26, 1917, and its editor-in-chief was J. V. Stalin. p. 156