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  • Germany Puts Lenin In Power

    “In the middle of April [1917] the Germans took a sombre decision. Ludendorff refers to it with bated breath. Full allowance must be made for the desperate stakes to which the German war leaders were already committed. They were in the mood which had opened unlimited submarine warfare with the certainty of bringing the United States into the war against them. Upon the Western front they had from the beginning used the most terrible means of offense at their disposal. They had employed poison gas on the largest scale and had invented the 'Flammenwerfer.' Nevertheless it was with a sense of awe that they turned upon Russia the most grisly of all weapons. They transported Lenin in a sealed truck like a plague bacillus from Switzerland into Russia.”

    Winston S. Churchill
    The World Crisis, volume five





    The outbreak of War in 1914 found Lenin living in the West Galician town of Poronin where he was arrested by Austrian security forces on August 7. When Vienna was informed that Lenin would have a negative impact on the Russian war effort, he was released and allowed to proceed to neutral Switzerland where he settled in Berne. He wasted no time in declaring that social democratic support for the war amounted to a betrayal of Socialism:

    Chauvinism seeks to conceal itself in Russia behind such phrases as “La Belle France” and “the unfortunate Belgium” and behind hostility towards the Kaiser and his regime. Therefore it is our immediate duty to fight against this sophistry and for that we need a slogan to embrace the whole problem. Such a slogan should declare in a convincing way that from the point of view of the Russian working class, defeat would be the lesser evil because czarism is a hundred times worse than the Kaiser’s realm. “Peace” is not the right slogan at the present moment; it is the slogan of Christian priests and the lower middle classes. The proletarian slogan should be “Civil War!”

    Such words of course were music to Austro-German ears. The old adage that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ was not invented by Germany, but German collaboration with Lenin would soon give the phrase new meaning . . .


    Alexander Helphand (Parvus) had been active on the far-left fringes of the international socialist movement for many years. He had gained some notoriety because of his involvement with the St. Petersburg Soviet in 1905. Beginning in 1910, Parvus had amassed a fortune acting as an advisor in various capacities to the Young Turks in Constantinople, the details of which remain murky. He was now about to become the main conduit through which the infusion of millions of German goldmarks would elevate Lenin’s tiny band of Marxist incendiaries to a position of absolute dictatorship over the land of the Czars. His biographer describes him during this period:

    “His massive, gigantic figure was more puffed out than ever, The broad, bull-like face with its high forehead, tiny nose, and carefully trimmed beard, had developed a flabby double chin, behind which his neck completely disappeared. The small lively eyes were deeply embedded in fat. His short legs were barely strong enough to support his body, and when he was standing up or walking, he seemed to use his arms to maintain himself on an even keel.”

    On January 7, 1915, Parvus was received by Freiherr von Wangenheim, the German ambassador to Constantinople. Parvus pointed out the important fact that Lenin, alone among the revolutionaries, had opposed the war with Germany from the beginning and that therefore: “The interests of the German Government are identical with those of the Russian revolutionaries.”

    The next day, January 8, Wangenheim duly reported the conversation to State Secretary von Jagow and suggested that Parvus be allowed to present his plan personally to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. After stops in Bucharest, Sophia and Vienna, Parvus arrived at the Wilhelmstrasse in late February, 1915, where his audience included Dr. Kurt Riezler, political warfare assistant to the Chancellor.
    Parvus presented to the German diplomats an elaborate three-point proposal: the infiltration of Bolshevik propaganda into Russia; an international press campaign against Czarism; organizing massive strikes under the slogan “Freedom and Peace.”
    He emphasized financial support for massive strikes at the Putilov, Obukhov, and Baltic factories in St. Petersburg as being of the highest importance. He stated that “Strikes here and there, the risings produced by distress and the increase in political agitation will all embarrass the Czarist government. If it takes reprisals, this will result in growing bitterness; if it shows indulgence, this will be interpreted as a sign of weakness and fan the flames of the revolutionary movement even more.”

    The final memorandum which Parvus gave to his German interlocutors on March 9, 1915, is described by his biographer as “a unique document, a plan, on a vast scale, for the subversion of the Czarist empire. Helphand [Parvus] had drafted a blue-print for the revolution. It was practical, detailed, with all its parts creating an impressive whole.”

    German diplomats were not unmindful that the Parvus plan could backfire; the German proletariat—no less than the Russian—were vulnerable to the Marxist lure as subsequent events would show. But the recent battle of the Marne had dashed German hopes of a quick victory and raised the spectre of a protracted war of attrition. It was therefore decided to furnish Parvus with an initial outlay of one million marks, and the St. Petersburg strikes were tentatively set for January 1916.

    Meanwhile, Parvus went to Copenhagen where he set up a research organization ostensibly to study the social effects of war, but actually to recruit agents. He also set up an export-import business—Handels og-Eksportkompagniet—which eventually became a profitable enterprise and served to enable the transfer of German funds to the Bolsheviks. He was determined to deliver on his promise to the Germans to foment strikes in St. Petersburg and worked towards this end in conjunction with Count Brockdorff-Rantzau and Baron Gisbert von Romberg, the German Ministers to Copenhagen and Berne respectively.
    He also managed to recruit Jakob Fürstenberg, Lenin’s most trusted agent who was also known by various aliases such as Hanecki, Kuba, or his Party name, Ganetsky. Fürstenberg, who had Lenin’s permission to work in Parvus’ organization thus kept Lenin informed, while at the same time providing Parvus with a connection to Bolshevik headquarters and serving as managing director of Parvus’ import-export company.

    On July 6, another five million goldmarks were budgeted by the German Foreign Office for subversive propaganda and the recruitment of agents. Good progress was being made towards the planned St. Petersburg strikes—“The main thing” Parvus told Brockdorff-Rantzau “is to stimulate the revolutionary mood. All this will have to be tackled vigorously, as according to every expectation, the revolutionary events will take place on 22 January.” On January 3d, 1916, he telegraphed Brockdorff-Rantzau that everything was ready: “All is going as desired. Expecting reports from St. Petersburg.”

    On January 11, things got off to a promising start. 10,000 workers at the Naval factory in Nikolaev put down their tools. Eleven days later, 45,000 workers struck in memory of Bloody Sunday in 1905. But while Parvus had seen to it that the strike committees had plenty of funds, the strikes did not spark a revolution as expected. The workers in Moscow and the provinces did not follow the lead of St. Petersburg and in two weeks the strikes had fizzled out.
    Parvus had failed to deliver and the German Foreign Office now began to reconsider its strategy. On the initiative of von Jagow, who had never been fond of political subversion as a form of warfare, German diplomacy focused on signing a separate peace with the Czarist Government. German money to the Bolsheviks temporarily ceased.



    When Lenin received the electrifying news on March 15 of the Czar's abdication, he assumed that “It will not be possible get away early from this accursed Switzerland.” Obviously, the Allies would resist the efforts of pacifist Socialists to return to Russia and undermine the war effort. But Lenin needn’t have worried.
    German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg reported to the Kaiser that “immediately” upon learning of the events in Russia (March 14), he instructed Gisbert von Romberg, the German Minister in Berne, to offer the Bolshevik exiles passage through Germany. Indeed, there was no time to lose! Already Germany had initiated the submarine warfare policy which would soon bring a U.S. declaration of war. Everything now depended upon a peace treaty with Russia that would enable Germany to transfer a half-million troops to the Western front and thereby bring the War to a victorious conclusion before American military might could be brought to bear.
    Lenin, having decided to accept the German offer of transport, was very much aware that any journey arranged by the Germans would be controversial to say the least. He therefore formulated a number of conditions that would minimize suspicions of collaboration with Germany and he appointed the Swiss Socialist, Robert Grimm, to negotiate these with Romberg.

    The main demand was that the train be sealed off and that no contact with any German nationals take place. But when Grimm began to enumerate Lenin’s conditions, Romberg interrupted: “Excuse me, Herr Grimm,” he said, “I was under the impression that it was not I who was asking permission to travel through Russia, but Mr. Ulyanov [Lenin] and others who were asking me for permission to travel through Germany. Surely, we are the ones who have the right to impose conditions.”

    While Lenin hesitated, Romberg received a telegram from Berlin dated April 2: “According to information received here, it is desirable that transit of Russian revolutionaries through Germany take place as soon as possible, as the Entente have already begun work against this move in Switzerland. I therefore recommend all possible speed in your discussions . . .” The telegram was prompted by the imminent threat of American intervention. Lenin’s conditions—now put forward by Fritz Platten who had replaced Grimm—were agreed to and by noon on Monday, April 9, thirty-two revolutionaries, including two children, began to board the train at the Zurich train station.

    They were headed for the small village of Gottmadingen just over the Swiss-German border where a special train awaited them. Special because, at Lenin’s insistence, Platten had used chalk to write “sealed” across the compartment doors where the revolutionaries would sit and which no one could enter or leave while the train traveled across Germany. The idea was to give the train a sort of extra-territorial status like a an embassy or legation which would help protect them later against charges of treason and collaboration. Charges which were being hurled at them at that very moment by a noisy and hostile group of Social Democrats which had gathered on the platform. “Spies! Pigs! Traitors! Provocateurs!” they screamed. “The lot of you will hang!” One of them was Ryazanov, a close friend of Trotsky’s. Recognizing Zinoviev at one of the train windows, he shouted at him: “Lenin has gotten carried away! He doesn’t realize what a dangerous situation it is. You are more level-headed. Tell Vladimir Ilyich to stop this mad journey through Germany!” Lenin, who was standing a few feet away, answered him: “Hiss as much as you like” he said, “we Bolsheviks will shuffle your cards and spoil your game.”

    At 3:15, the train with its deadly cargo pulled out of the Zurich station to jeers and catcalls. Lenin had a date with destiny and Parvus, the millionaire Marxist, was back in the revolution business in a big way.

    The Germans needed no further persuasion to turn on the money tap full blast. The main conduit by which German funds reached the Bolsheviks has been described by H. Grebing, a member of the Austro-Hungarian legation in Stockholm:

    "It is quite certain that, during the war, Helphand [Parvus] and Fürstenburg [Ganetsky] could and did carry on, with German help, an export business through Scandinavia to Russia. . . This import of German goods to Russia was undertaken regularly and in considerable volume by the Helphand-Fürstenburg enterprise in the following manner: Helphand received from the Germans certain goods such as surgical instruments, medicines, and chemicals needed in Russia, and then Fürstenburg, as his Russian agent shipped them to Russia. The cost of these goods was not paid back to Germany, but, since the outbreak of the Russian revolution, it was used mainly for Lenin’s propaganda."

    The German imports were received by a St. Petersburg-based pharmaceutical business— Fabian Klingsland—run by Kozlovsky, an agent working for Parvus and a delegate to the Executive Committee of the Petersburg Soviet. The money—now laundered through a legitimate business enterprise—was then deposited in various accounts in the Petersburg branches of the Russo-Asiatic Bank and the Bank of Siberia from which it was withdrawn by a relative of Ganetsky-Fürstenburg, one Eugenia Sumenson. The money was distributed by Kozlovsky and Alexander Keskuela, an Estonian Bolshevik recruited by von Romberg. The total amount of German money to the Bolsheviks is enormous and has been conservatively estimated by Eduard Bernstein, a prominent German Social Democrat, at more than fifty million goldmarks:

    "From absolutely reliable sources [Bernstein wrote] I have now ascertained that the sum was very large, an almost unbelievable amount, certainly more than fifty million goldmarks, a sum about the source of which Lenin and his comrades could be in no doubt. One result of all this was the Brest-Litovsk Treaty. General Hoffmann, who negotiated with Trotsky and other members of the Bolshevik delegation at Brest, held the Bolsheviks in his hand in two senses [that is, military and monetary], and he made sure they felt it."

    Most of the money was used to produce some forty-two specially targeted newspapers and magazines. These were not the crudely printed pre-1914 handbills and pamphlets, but professional publications printed on high quality paper. For the soldiers there was Soldatskaia Pravda. For the sailors it was Golos Pravda and front-line troops had Okopnaia Pravda. Each of these distributed an astounding 100,000 copies per day to the troops. Additionally there were foreign language pamphlets aimed at minorities.
    The main Bolshevik organ was Pravda of which 1,500,000 copies per week were distributed free of charge to factory workers who had sparked the March revolution in the industrial district of Vyborg. On December 3d, 1917, less than a month after Lenin seized power, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Richard Kühlmann, submitted the following confidential report:

    "The disruption of the Entente and the subsequent creation of political combinations agreeable to us constitute the most important aim of our diplomacy. Russia appeared to be the weakest link in the enemy chain. The task therefore was to loosen it, and, when possible, to remove it. This was the purpose of the subversive activity we caused to be carried out in Russia behind the front—in the first place promotion of separatist tendencies and support of the Bolsheviks. It was not until the Bolsheviks had received from us a steady flow of funds through various channels and under different labels that they were able to build up their main organ, Pravda, to conduct energetic propaganda and appreciably to extend the originally narrow basis of their party . . . It is entirely in our interest that we should exploit the period while they are in power, which may be a short one, in order to attain firstly an armistice and then, if possible, peace. The conclusion of a separate peace would mean the achievement of the desired war aim, namely a breach between Russia and her allies."



    Lenin moved in with his sister Anna Elizarov and her husband Mark. Each day he directed the distribution of Bolshevik literature from the editorial offices of Pravda and it was not long before the massive onslaught of propaganda and the slogan “All power to the Soviets” began to have a telling effect
    Lenin’s propaganda war had forced the Provisional Government to make the first of many leftward moves and to relinquish power to the Petersburg Soviet. While Alexander Kerenski, the newly appointed Minister of War, was beginning to emerge as Lenin’s main protagonist, the wisdom of the day had it that the Soviet was the “power without authority” and the Provisional Government was the “authority without power.”

    The Bolsheviks were also prepared to knock heads when the occasion so demanded. By the end of May, Lenin could call on some twelve hundred men of the lumpenproletariat organized and trained by his trusted lieutenants Nevsky and Podvoisky. They were called out to counter anti-Lenin demonstrations or to forcibly break up opposition meetings and their numbers were growing rapidly.
    Sukhanov describes their similarity to the notorious Committee of Public Safety under Robespierre, one of Lenin’s heroes. “Lynch-law, the destruction of houses and shops, jeering at and attacks on officers, provincial authorities, or private persons, unauthorized arrests, seizures and beatings-up were recorded every day by the tens and hundreds.” Lenin’s fearsome propaganda weapon fueled by German goldmarks was quickly gaining converts among the workers and soldiers while the middle and upper classes closed ranks around Kerensky.

    By early July, the Bolsheviks were looking strong: they had brazenly declared their readiness to act independently of the Soviet even if the Soviet should take power; a number of Socialists such as Trotsky, Grimm, Martov and Radek had returned to Petersburg and joined Lenin’s group; some of the military units, most notably the 1st Machine Gun Regiment and the sailors stationed at Kronstadt, were showing strong Bolshevik sympathies.

    German Secretary Arthur Zimmerman was naturally delighted: “Lenin’s peace propaganda is growing steadily stronger and his newspaper Pravda already prints 300,000 copies. Work in the armament factories is either at a standstill or has sunk to very low production figures . . .”

    On July 1st, Kerensky had launched his long-awaited offensive against the Austrian lines in Galicia. This was a major effort upon which Kerensky’s political fortunes would rise or fall. The Bolshevik plan was to await Kerensky’s inevitable defeat and then, having gained the sympathy of frontline troops, would seize power.
    But a spontaneous insurrection in July had caught the Bolsheviks by surprise and they now had to make a decision: should they ride this unexpected wave to power, or should they disassociate themselves? The decision was agonizing. On the one hand, the unplanned rebellion had brought legions of pro-Bolshevik demonstrators into the streets, and, as Sukhanov had observed accurately enough: “Any group of ten or twelve men could have arrested the government.”
    On the other hand, Kerensky’s offensive, though stalled, had not yet met with total defeat. What was needed to swing the masses behind Lenin was the utter defeat and humiliation of Kerensky. Kamenev argued that “We never called for a demonstration, but the masses themselves have come into the streets to show their will. And once the masses are out, our place is with them.” Trotsky later wrote: “What was to be done? Could the Bolsheviks possibly stand aside?”

    Lenin finally decided that the risk of a strong reaction from frontline troops was still too great. On the evening of July 17, the Bolshevik Central Committee suddenly called off the July “manifestation” by issuing a proclamation which stated: “Comrades! For the present political crisis, our aim has been accomplished. We have therefore decided to end the demonstration. Let each and every one peacefully and in an organized manner bring the strike and the demonstration to a close.”

    The next morning, July 18, Lenin met Trotsky and remarked “Now they will shoot us down one by one. This is the right time for them.” Trotsky would later write that “It is quite likely that had the army officers managed to capture Lenin soon after the July demonstration, they would have dealt with him the way German officers dealt with Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg. Lenin wanted to make the assault with a sound plan: take the enemy by surprise, seize power and then see what happens.”

    It is certainly to be regretted that the Provisional Government did not “deal” properly with the Bolsheviks while they had the chance. The American diplomat David R. Francis later stated it well: “Had the Provisional Government at this time arraigned Lenin and Trotsky and the other Bolshevik leaders, Russia probably would not have been compelled to go through another revolution, would have been spared the reign of terror, and the loss from famine and murder of millions of her sons and daughters.”

    On July 19, the Government issued arrest warrants for the Bolshevik leadership charging them with “high treason and organizing an armed uprising.” Lenin and Zinoviev went into hiding in Finland.
    Kerensky replaced Lvov as Prime Minister and dissolved the units which had participated in the July rising. He further banned Pravda and other Bolshevik publications and placed General Lavr Kornilov in command of the armed forces.
    The volatile issue of Lenin-German collaboration now came to the fore. The headline in the July 21 issue of Zhivoe Slovo (“The Living Word”) was electrifying: LENIN, GANETSKY & CO GERMAN SPIES! The crux of the Government case was contained in the following paragraph:


    "From the numerous telegrams in the hands of the legal authorities it is established that a constant and extensive correspondence was carried on between Sumenson, Ulianov [Lenin], Kollontai and Kozlovsky residing in Petrograd on the one hand, and Fürstenburg [Ganetsky] and Helphand [Parvus] on the other. Although this correspondence refers to commercial deals, shipment of all sorts of goods, and money transactions, it offers sufficient reasons to conclude that this correspondence was a cover-up for relations of an espionage character."

    This was thin stuff and it misstated the case entirely. Kerensky seems never to have figured out that Lenin was not a spy but collaborated for the purpose of seizing power. Trotsky wrote that the only hard evidence was “Lenin’s trip through Germany . . . the very fact, advanced most often before inexperienced audiences as proof of Lenin’s friendship with the German Government” and the fact of Lenin’s trip through Germany had never been a secret. Nevertheless, there was a strong popular reaction against the Bolsheviks.


    A massive manhunt was launched for Lenin and Zinoviev as crowds angrily demanded their execution. Already Kamenev had been arrested after nearly being lynched. Trotsky, arrested later, reflected from his prison cell that “perhaps we made a mistake . . . we should have tried to take power.” From now until November 7, the contest would be between Lenin and Kerensky.


    In August of 1917, Bolshevik fortunes had sunk to a low ebb as a result of the ‘July days’ debacle. Lenin was in hiding in Finland and was forced to wear a disguise whenever he ventured outside. Sukhanov commented on Lenin’s self-imposed exile that “ . . . the flight of the shepherd could not but deliver a heavy blow to the sheep. After all, the masses, mobilized by Lenin, bore the whole burden of responsibility for the July days . . . And the real culprit abandons his army, his comrades, and seeks personal safety in flight.”

    From Finland, Lenin defended himself vigorously against charges of cowardice. Characterizing the affair as “a second Dreyfuss” and a “slander,” he insisted that no member of the party had ever received “one kopeck” from Ganetsky or Kozlovsky.


    While Russia drifted rudderless throughout September and October, 1917, Lenin was making plans.
    Between the 25th and 27th of September, Lenin quite suddenly decided that the time had come and began firing off letters to the Central Committee: “History will not forgive us if we do not assume power now . . . We will win absolutely and unquestionably!” Lenin was undoubtedly motivated by fear of being preempted by the Constituent Assembly, but the suddenness of Lenin’s decision arouses the suspicion that he was acting on information from the Germans. From Lenin to Fürstenburg-Ganetsky to Parvus, there existed a direct line of communication to the German Foreign Office.

    When the Central Committee pointedly ignored his letters, Lenin threatened resignation. On October 12, he notified the Central Committee that he recognized the “subtle hint of gagging me and proposing that I retire.” He continued, “I am compelled to tender my resignation from the Central Committee . . . leaving myself freedom of propaganda in the lower ranks of the party and at the party Congress. It is my deepest conviction that if we . . . let the present moment pass, we shall ruin the revolution.”

    On October 20, Lenin wrote another letter urgently demanding immediate insurrection. On October 23, Lenin participated in a twelve-member meeting of the Central Committee at the Petrograd apartment of N.N. Sukhanov, a Menshevik leader whose absence had been arranged by his Bolshevik wife. Still wearing his disguise, Lenin argued forcefully, though fictitiously, that Germany was about to conclude a separate peace with one or more of the Entente powers. By dawn the next morning, Lenin had persuaded the Central Committee to approve the insurrection on the false ground that the Provisional Government was about to deliver Petrograd to the Germans. Only Kamenev and Zinoviev dissented.

    Lenin went back into hiding, content to leave the organizational details to the capable Trotsky. German agents lent strong assistance by offering delinquent soldiers Swiss francs—rather than inflation-ridden rubles—for rifles and machine guns and distributing these to the Bolsheviks.

    Kamenev and Zinoviev continued to dissent. “The Central Committee”, the two men wrote, “insists on a purely Bolshevik government no matter what the consequences and how many victims the workers and soldiers will have to sacrifice . . . We cannot assume responsibility for this fatal policy, pursued in opposition to the will of the vast part of the proletariat and the troops.” Lenin dismissed them as “blacklegs and deserters.”

    On November 4, there was a dress rehearsal. The Bolsheviks, by now synonymous with the Petrograd Soviet, gave the order for a show of strength. There was to be no violence and workers were to stay within their own district. The trial demonstration was a complete success. Bolshevik leaders were now certain that when the time came, their orders would not simply fly into the void but would be heard and obeyed by armed men. Everything was finally ready.

    At 2:00 A.M. Wednesday, November 7, groups of armed Bolsheviks fanned out through the sleeping city. Silently and without firing a shot, they took control of the railroads, telephone exchange, State Bank, the bridges over the Neva and other key points. By dawn it was all over.
    At 10:00 A.M. Trotsky’s Military Revolutionary Committee proclaimed the demise of the Provisional Government.

    In order to keep the opposition off balance, the fiction that the Bolsheviks would submit to the Constituent Assembly needed to be maintained for a while longer. Accordingly, a resolution passed by the Bolshevik-dominated Congress of Soviets which was then in session declared its intention “to form for the administration of the country, until the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, a Provisional Workers’ and Peasants’ Government to be called Council of People’s Commissars” [Sovnarkom] with Lenin as Chairman.

    No other party had a military organization with which to oppose the Bolsheviks on their own terms. Two weeks earlier, Trotsky had announced that all orders to the Petrograd garrison would have to be approved by his Military Revolutionary Committee ]Milrevkom] thereby preventing the Government from using the garrison against the Bolsheviks. This, as Trotsky later admitted, was the defining moment of the coup d’état. The other parties could only protest that

    The military conspiracy was organized and carried out by the Bolshevik Party in the name of the Soviets behind the backs of all the other parties and factions represented by the Soviets. The seizure of power by the Petrograd Soviet on the eve of the Congress of Soviets constitutes a disorganization and disruption of the entire Soviet organization.

    Trotsky contemptuously dismissed his critics as “pitiful entities” and told them: “Your role is finished! Go where you belong from now on—into the rubbish bin of history!” John Reed, the American journalist and Bolshevik sympathizer recalls that Trotsky’s “thin pointed face was positively Mephistophelian in its expression of malicious irony . . .”

    Since November 5th, Kerensky had been in the Winter Palace meeting with the Cabinet and trying to deal with the crisis. The Menshevik leader Dan had proposed the only real solution: conclude an immediate peace with Germany.

    Indeed! Peace with Germany was the Bolshevik secret of success; it was the source of their money and thus their power. Had this proposal been made a month ago, it would have neutralized the Bolsheviks and the real revolution might have been saved. Many years later, Lord Beaverbrook asked Kerensky what would have happened if the Provisional Government had offered the Germans a peace treaty. Kerensky replied: “We would be in Moscow today.” So why had he not done so? Because, said Kerensky, “We were naive.”

    Early on November 7, it was realized that the situation was hopeless even though the Winter Palace would not surrender until early the next day. At 9:00 A.M. Kerensky borrowed a car from the American Ambassador and, disguised as a Serbian officer, headed for Gatchina where he found some Cossack troops willing to move against Petrograd. There was some desultory fighting around Tsarskoe Selo, but the Cossacks were persuaded by Bolshevik agitators that the Constituent Assembly would resolve all problems. On November 13, Trotsky wired Lenin: “Kerensky has been decisively repulsed. Kerensky is retreating. We are advancing . . .”
    With the aid of British agent, Bruce Lockhart, Kerensky eventually escaped from Russia never to return. He died in the United States in 1970.

    A spectre now haunted the Bolsheviks, the spectre of democracy. For months the Bolsheviks had excused their coup attempts and power grabs on the grounds of advancing the Constituent Assembly. Just as they had once defeated the Provisional Government with the slogan “All Power to the Soviets,” they now defeated the Petrograd Soviet and Kerensky with the slogan “All Power to the Constituent Assembly.”
    “Long live the Constituent Assembly”, Trotsky had shouted as he walked out of the pre-Parliament in October. Now, despite Lenin’s desperate attempts to find a way around it, the time had come for the Russian people to go to the polls. The historic, first-time ever voting began on November 25 and soon confirmed Lenin’s worst fears. Despite a Bolshevik decree prohibiting political meetings, a massive voter turnout gave the Bolsheviks a mere 175 seats out of a 715 seat Assembly, not even a respectable minority.

    Lenin suddenly rediscovered the problem with “bourgeois parliamentarianism” and determined to prevent the Assembly from meeting. Despite Bolshevik threats however, the newly-elected deputies arrived in Petrograd and defiantly decided to meet on December 11. One of the deputies, P.A. Sorokin, recorded the momentous day in his diary:

    The legal opening of the Constituent Assembly dawned beautifully clear. Blue sky, white snow, an auspicious background for the huge placards everywhere displayed. “Long life to the Constituent Assembly, the master of Russia.” Crowds of people bearing these standards welcomed the highest authority of the country, the real voice of the Russian people. As the deputies approached the Tauride Palace, thousands of people hailed them with deafening cheers. But when the deputies reached the gates they found them closed and guarded by Bolshevik Lettish soldiers, armed to the teeth. Something had to be done, and at once. Climbing the iron fence of the palace I addressed the people while other deputies climbed up and scrambled after me. They managed to unlock the gates and crowds rushed in filling the courtyard. Staggered at the audacity of this move, the Lettish soldiers hesitated. We attacked the doors of the palace, also guarded by Lettish soldiers and officers behind whom appeared Uritsky and other Bolsheviks. Again speaking to the people, I concluded by thanking the Lettish soldiers for their welcome to the highest authority in Russia and their apparent willingness to guard its liberties. At last I even embraced the commanding officer. The whole lot wavered in confusion and as a result the doors were opened and we walked in. In the passage, Uritsky, an exceedingly repulsive Jew, demanded that we go to his office to register but we contemptuously pushed him aside saying that the Constituent Assembly stood in no need of his services. In the hall of the palace we held our meeting and called upon the Russian nation to defend the Constituent Assembly. A resolution was passed that the Assembly, in spite of every obstacle, should open on January 18.

    Lenin now prepared for the inevitable. Members of the Constituent Assembly electoral commission were arrested for their refusal to surrender its files to the Sovnarkom. The Cadet party was outlawed, its leaders arrested and its newspapers trashed. Trotsky gave notice that such measures were just the beginning: “There is nothing immoral in the proletariat finishing off the dying class”, he declared on December 15. “This is its right. You are indignant at the petty terror which we direct against our class opponents. But be put on notice that in one month at most this terror will assume more frightful forms, on the model of the great revolutionaries of France. Our enemies will face not prison but the guillotine!”

    On January 18, tens of thousands of demonstrators once more appeared on the streets of Petrograd in support of the Assembly and faced squads of Red Guards with rifles leveled. Deputies had to run a gauntlet of jeering Bolsheviks on their way into the Tauride Palace. Many brought sandwiches and candles in anticipation of Bolshevik attempts to sabotage the proceedings. “Thus”, sneered Trotsky, “democracy entered upon the struggle with dictatorship heavily armed with sandwiches and candles.”

    The galleries were packed with armed Bolsheviks who amused themselves by commenting aloud on whether is was preferable to hang, shoot, or bayonet the deputies. Outside the palace, Red Guards fired into the demonstrators and angrily seized their banners. At four o’clock, amid an atmosphere of menace and outright threat, the proceedings finally began.
    The Bolsheviks set the tone by introducing a resolution designed to neutralize the Assembly. Hand-written by Lenin, it read: “In supporting the Soviet and the decrees of the Soviet of People’s Commissars, the Constituent Assembly admits that is has no power beyond working out some of the fundamental problems of reorganizing society on a Socialist basis.”

    The session was marked by Bolshevik jeers and catcalls. They continually disrupted the proceedings by banging their rifle butts on the floor or sighting their revolvers on the deputies. Lenin gave no speeches but made ostentatious displays of pretended sleep. Before leaving, he gave a note to Anatoly Zheleznikov, a burly young sailor who had been placed in charge. The note read: “The Constituent Assembly should not be dispersed until the end of the session. Tomorrow, from early morning, nobody should be admitted to the Tauride Palace.” In another part of the palace, the Bolsheviks met and passed a resolution dissolving the Constituent Assembly.

    Thus was democracy strangled in the cradle. As Trotsky later wrote: “The simple, open, brutal breaking-up of the Constituent Assembly dealt formal democracy a finishing blow from which it has never recovered.” History had taken a wrong turn . . .

    (for more on this and similar topics, see my website: www.ourcenturybook.com
    Last edited by peterhof; 13 Oct 12, 23:48.
    "We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo

  • #2
    Regardless of Churchill's beautifully emotive language, I have read that the train was not, in fact "sealed", despite what chalk marks might have appeared on the carriage.
    "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
    Samuel Johnson.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
      Regardless of Churchill's beautifully emotive language, I have read that the train was not, in fact "sealed", despite what chalk marks might have appeared on the carriage.
      Well, no. At least it was not more sealed than Vladimir llitch could get off in Stockholm and do some socialising. There was a reception hosted by the Mayor of Stockholm, Carl Lindhagen, for starters.

      We've even got pictures. Here's one of Lenin (bit of a Swedish 20th c. history classic), surrounded by his local hosts, talking a walk down one of main streets of Stockholm. Tall man on his right would seem to be Lindhagen.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
        Regardless of Churchill's beautifully emotive language, I have read that the train was not, in fact "sealed", despite what chalk marks might have appeared on the carriage.
        And the fact that one month later the same "hissing" Social Democrats came back to Russia exactly the same way.

        Here's a copy of my earlier post in another thread:

        -------------

        Lenin's passage through Germany was not a "secret sabotage operation of planting subversive German agents into Russia", as some illiterate nitwits try to tout it. After the February Revolution the Provisional Government declared amnesty to all political emigrants and invited them to return into Russia. However, the Entente actively opposed the passage of not only Bolsheviks, but even Mensheviks and members of a few other parties, across their territory. Public pressure forced the Provisional Government to open negotiations with Germans, offering them to exchange political emigrants for prisoners of war. The negotiations dragged on, bogged down in political controversies, and eventually the Bolsheviks decided they couldn't wait any longer and asked the Germans to grant them the right of passage themselves.

        Ergo:

        1. This was not an "operation of the German General Staff"
        2. The Bolsheviks did not return as "underground saboteurs" - they were invited to Russia along with all other political emigrants
        3. The agreement with the Germans on the right of passage does not indicate any "betrayal", otherwise the Provisional Goverment and all those it represented would be traitors as well for trying to strike just the same kind of agreement.
        4. The passage through German territory and the accusations of receiving German funding are two separate things which get conflated by people with certain political bias to push their agenda. While the passage was well known back then and does not constitute any betrayal, the accusations of receiving German money have been debunked by several scholars, and Kerensky's papers and Sisson Documents have been exposed as fakes.
        www.histours.ru

        Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by ShAA View Post
          And the fact that one month later the same "hissing" Social Democrats came back to Russia exactly the same way.

          Here's a copy of my earlier post in another thread:

          -------------

          Lenin's passage through Germany was not a "secret sabotage operation of planting subversive German agents into Russia", as some illiterate nitwits try to tout it. After the February Revolution the Provisional Government declared amnesty to all political emigrants and invited them to return into Russia. However, the Entente actively opposed the passage of not only Bolsheviks, but even Mensheviks and members of a few other parties, across their territory. Public pressure forced the Provisional Government to open negotiations with Germans, offering them to exchange political emigrants for prisoners of war. The negotiations dragged on, bogged down in political controversies, and eventually the Bolsheviks decided they couldn't wait any longer and asked the Germans to grant them the right of passage themselves.

          Ergo:

          1. This was not an "operation of the German General Staff"
          2. The Bolsheviks did not return as "underground saboteurs" - they were invited to Russia along with all other political emigrants
          3. The agreement with the Germans on the right of passage does not indicate any "betrayal", otherwise the Provisional Goverment and all those it represented would be traitors as well for trying to strike just the same kind of agreement.
          4. The passage through German territory and the accusations of receiving German funding are two separate things which get conflated by people with certain political bias to push their agenda. While the passage was well known back then and does not constitute any betrayal, the accusations of receiving German money have been debunked by several scholars, and Kerensky's papers and Sisson Documents have been exposed as fakes.
          This is an interesting point of view. My books on the Russian revolution are with the rest of the familiy. And also those of the Russian Civil War, where greatgrandfather Alexei fought for five years with the White armies. Do we have enough information on this? I know that the Bolsheviks like so many in history tried to destroy the records of what happened. I wrote a paper on Leon Trosky, (Lev Davidovitch Bronstein) in high school, and I got the International Baccalaureat because of it. Those times in Russia before, during and after WWI were very difficult times.
          Last edited by Nickuru; 14 Oct 12, 05:57. Reason: syntax
          When looking for the reason why things go wrong, never rule out stupidity, Murphy's Law Nº 8
          Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. George Santayana
          "Ach du schwein" a German parrot captured at Bukoba GEA the only prisoner taken

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Johan Banér View Post
            Well, no. At least it was not more sealed than Vladimir llitch could get off in Stockholm and do some socialising. There was a reception hosted by the Mayor of Stockholm, Carl Lindhagen, for starters.

            We've even got pictures. Here's one of Lenin (bit of a Swedish 20th c. history classic), surrounded by his local hosts, talking a walk down one of main streets of Stockholm. Tall man on his right would seem to be Lindhagen.
            I'm glad you brought up the matter of Lenin's stop in Stockholm. A strange incident occurred when the Bolsheviks pulled into the Stockholm station. A series of meetings took place between Lenin and Parvus with Radek serving as intermediary. In his book, The Russian Revolution, Professor Richard Pipes describes it:

            "Parvus was one of those who awaited them there [at Stockholm]. He asked to meet with Lenin, but the cautious Bolshevik leader refused and passed him on to Radek. Radek spent a good part of April 13 with Parvus. What transpired between them is not known. When they parted, Parvus dashed off to Berlin. On April 20, he met in private with the German State Secretary, Arthur Zimmerman. This encounter also left no record."

            This might explain why Lenin underwent a radical transformation with regard to his revolutionary strategy at some point during the journey. Just hours before leaving, Lenin told Swiss workers that “Russia is a peasant country. It is one of the most backward of European countries. Socialism cannot triumph there immediately.”
            Upon his arrival in Petersburg however, Lenin shocked his listeners by declaring that a period of bourgeois democracy was no longer necessary but that Russia could move right into full Socialism, that is, dictatorship of the proletariat. “We don’t need a bourgeois democracy,” he declared to gasps from the audience. “We don’t need any government except the Soviet.”
            As this was against Marx’ most basic dictum, Lenin’s statement produced a split in the Bolshevik ranks. Even Krupskaya, Lenin’s wife, was moved to comment that “I am afraid it looks as if Lenin has gone crazy.”

            There is of course no proof, but it seems reasonable to surmise the following: the Germans wanted to be reassured that they would get what they were paying for, namely, an immediate peace treaty with Russia. Since all of the political factions in Russia, including most Bolsheviks, were in favor of continuing the war, Lenin would have to be in a position of absolute power in order to conclude a separate peace with Germany. This would certainly rule out a “bourgeois democracy.”

            It was on this crucial point—that the Bolsheviks would indeed seize absolute power—that Lenin, through Radek, reassured Parvus in Stockholm. It would explain why Parvus immediately “dashed off” to see, first Brockdorff-Rantzau, then Zimmerman, who had just replaced von Jagow as the German Secretary of State. Subsequent events moreover, confirm that right up until November 7, the date of the coup, it was Lenin alone who insisted upon a seizure of power by the Bolsheviks and was opposed in this by even his closest comrades.
            "We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo

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            • #7
              The train wasn't all that well sealed as it passed through Germany. When it stopped for the first time (Stuttgart?), some socialists managed to get aboard and chat with the Bolsheviks. It was better sealed when it stopped in Berlin. I'll try and track down where I found this gem - it was recently.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
                The train wasn't all that well sealed as it passed through Germany. When it stopped for the first time (Stuttgart?), some socialists managed to get aboard and chat with the Bolsheviks. It was better sealed when it stopped in Berlin. I'll try and track down where I found this gem - it was recently.
                And how do you "seal" a train anyway ?

                I have visions of railway carriages resembling shipping containers, each locked and bolted, with the relative keys dispatched separately.
                "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                Samuel Johnson.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
                  And how do you "seal" a train anyway ?
                  With this:

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ShAA View Post
                    1. This was not an "operation of the German General Staff"
                    I never said it was.


                    2. The Bolsheviks did not return as "underground saboteurs" - they were invited to Russia along with all other political emigrants
                    I never said they were "underground saboteurs."


                    3. The agreement with the Germans on the right of passage does not indicate any "betrayal", otherwise the Provisional Goverment and all those it represented would be traitors as well for trying to strike just the same kind of agreement.
                    I have no idea what this means.


                    4. The passage through German territory and the accusations of receiving German funding are two separate things which get conflated by people with certain political bias to push their agenda. While the passage was well known back then and does not constitute any betrayal, the accusations of receiving German money have been debunked by several scholars, and Kerensky's papers and Sisson Documents have been exposed as fakes.
                    "debunked" by who? "exposed as fakes" by who?
                    "We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by peterhof View Post
                      I never said it was.




                      I never said they were "underground saboteurs."




                      I have no idea what this means.


                      Stop playing an idiot, as you're way too convincing doing it. Lenin's passage through Germany was neither a treason nor a "unique" case of cooperation with the German HQ. The other revolutionaries did the same voyage as they were invited by the Provisional Government. Yes, Lenin was invited too.

                      So far you've presented no documentary evidence of the payments Lenin allegedly received from the Germans. So much for "scholarly work".

                      "debunked" by who? "exposed as fakes" by who?
                      http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.230...21101177273943
                      www.histours.ru

                      Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have not cited Edgar Sissons. I have never said that Lenin was a "traitor" or a "German agent." He was neither. Lenin collaborated in order to seize power as he did on November 7, 1917. Thank you for including your family portrait. Are you the one in the middle?
                        "We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          no,the one left of you

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by peterhof View Post
                            I have not cited Edgar Sissons. I have never said that Lenin was a "traitor" or a "German agent." He was neither. Lenin collaborated in order to seize power as he did on November 7, 1917. Thank you for including your family portrait. Are you the one in the middle?
                            No,you never said this :you only were (as usual) insinuating this:
                            the Germans wanted to be reassured that they would get what they were PAYING for:an immediate peace treaty with Russia .

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                              No,you never said this :you only were (as usual) insinuating this:
                              Stop this. I insinuated nothing. My post is straightforward and quotes principals, unlike your reply.


                              the Germans wanted to be reassured that they would get what they were PAYING for:an immediate peace treaty with Russia .
                              That's what I said.
                              "We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo

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