On this Day, 1917: Bolsheviki Seize Buildings, Defying Kerensky

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Bolsheviki Seize State Buildings, Defying Kerensky


Premier Posts Troops in Capital and Declares Workmen’s Council Illegal


NORTHERN ARMY OFFERS AID


And Preliminary Parliament, Forced by Rebels to Leave Palace, Supports Him


WOMEN SOLDIERS ON GUARD


Petrograd Conditions Generally Normal Save for Outrages by So-Called Apaches


Bolsheviki Seize State Buildings

Petrograd, Nov. 7–An armed naval detachment, under orders of the Maximalist Revolutionary Committee, has occupied the offices of the official Petrograd Telegraph Agency. The Maximalists also occupied the Central Telegraph office, the State Bank and Marin Palace, where the Preliminary Parliament had suspended its proceedings in view of the situation.

Numerous precautions have been taken by Premier Kerensky to thwart the threatened outbreak. The Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Committee has been decreed an illegal organization. The soldiers guarding the Government buildings have been replaced by men from the officers’ training schools. Small guards have been placed at the Embassies. The women’s battalion is drawn up in the square in front of the Winter Palace.

The commander of the northern front has informed the Premier that his troops are against any demonstration and are ready to come to Petrograd to quell a rebellion if necessary.

No disorders are yet reported, with the exception of some outrages by Apaches. The general life of the city remains normal and street traffic has not been interrupted.

Leon Trotzky, President of the Central Executive Committee of the Petrograd Council of Workmen’s Soldiers’ Delegates, has informed members of the Town Duma that he has given strict orders against outlawry and has threatened with death any persons attempting to carry out pogroms.

Trotzky added that it was not the intention of the Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Delegates to seize power, but to represent to a Congress of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Delegates, to be called shortly, that the body take over control of the capital, for which all necessary arrangements had been perfected.

In the early hours of the morning a delegation of Cossacks appeared at the Winter Palace and told Premier Kerensky that they were disposed to carry out the Government’s orders concerning the guarding of the capital, but they insisted that if hostilities began it would be necessary for their forces to be supplemented by infantry units. They further demanded that the Premier define the Government’s attitude toward the Bolsheviki, citing the release from custody of some of those who had been arrested for participation in the July disturbances. The Cossacks virtually made a demand that the Government proclaim the Bolsheviki outlaws.

The Premier replied:

“I find it difficult to declare the Bolsheviki outlaws. The attitude of the Government toward the present Bolsheviki activities is known.”

The Premier explained that those who had been released were on bail, and that any of them found participating in new offenses against peace would be severely dealt with.

The Revolutionary Military Committee of the Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Delegates demanded the right to control all orders of the General Staff in the Petrograd district, which was refused. Thereupon the committee announced that it had appointed special commissioners to undertake the direction of the military, and invited the troops to observe only orders signed by the committee. Machine gun detachments moved to the Workmen’s and Soldiers’ headquarters.

In addressing the Preliminary Parliament yesterday Premier Kerensky charged the Military Committee of the Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Delegates with having distributed arms and ammunition to workmen.

“That is why I consider part of the population of Petrograd in a state of revolt,” he said, “and have ordered an immediate inquiry and such arrests as are necessary. The Government will perish rather than cease to defend the honor, security, and independence of the State.”

The Preliminary Parliament, in response to the Premier’s appeal for a vote of confidence, voted to “work in contact with the Government.” The resolution, which originated with the Left, was carried by a vote of 123 to 102, with 26 members abstaining from voting. A resolution offered by the Centre calling for the suppression of the Bolshevikis and a full vote of confidence failed to reach a vote. The Cabinet, however, considers the resolution adopted as expressive of the Parliament’s support.

The reported resignation of Admiral Verdervski, Minister of Marine, was denied after the Cabinet meeting. It was stated that all the ministers had agreed to retain their portfolios.

The Bolshevik Chairman of the Petrograd Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Delegates, realizing that there are more ways than one of acquiring real authority, not only attempted its capture by armed force but also by a far more ingenuous plan, which was disclosed today. He formed a so-called Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, and informed the Headquarters Staff of the Petrograd military district that only orders sanctioned by the Military Revolutionary Committee would be executed.

On Sunday night the committee appeared at the staff offices and demanded the right of entry, control and veto. Receiving a natural and emphatic refusal, the military revolutionaries wired everywhere to the general effect that the Petrograd district headquarters were opposed to the wishes of the revolutionary garrison, and were becoming a counter revolutionary centre. This bid for the loyalty of the garrison has so far yielded no definite results, but obviously is extremely dangerous, especially in view of the fact that in the Petrograd garrison discipline is extremely lax.

It is said the Provisional Government intends to prosecute the Military Revolutionary Committee. It should be noted that the All-Russian Executive Committee of the Soviets is backing the Provisional Government. There is a general feeling of reaction against the Bolshevik-ridden Soviets, a feeling completely loyal to the revolution but impatient of disorders.

Source

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