The provincial Government was a permanent form of power in Russia after the tsar was removed from power and would dissipate after the elections in November of the Constituent Assembly. This fact plays an important role in the shaping of Russia’s history. In March of 1917 the Petrograd soviets issue “Order Number 1” this is the first instance where we are able to see the Petrograd’s Soviets hold over the provincial government and the weakness of the government. This order in a nutshell meant that any military orders had to be approved by the Petrograd’s Soviet for them to be binding.
In these early days of the government all seemed to be going well, there was a general acceptance that the new liberty not be allowed to slip into anarchy and so destroy the gains of the revolution. In April Lenin returned with help from the Germans to Russia. “No control or examination of passports or persons may be carried out wither on entering or leaving Germany” Lenin’s German pass. This helps to show us that the Germans didn’t want the train to be intercepted or stopped but for Lenin to make a secret entry into the country.
They may have believed Lenin was going to cause another revolution hat could cause Russia to back out of the war, as he believed that a class revolution hadn’t yet happened. When Lenin had entered the country he made his April theses, this caused a lot of problems as now the Bolsheviks were being told they could not work with the Provisional Government but should try and overthrow it. Lenin was able to see the soviets as a power base as they controlled the workers and the army, Lenin could use this and say he is the leader of the people.
The Bolshevik takeover of the soviets would be the prelude to Bolshevik takeover of the state” Access to History, Michael Lynch Lenin and the Bolshevik party were trying to spread the power out equally over all the workers peasants and the army. They used slogans such as “Peace Bread and Land” and ” all power to the soviets” This caused problems to the provisional government as these were the problems they had been unable to sort out and would have helped to gained more support for Lenin. In the month before the July days we must look at what was going on with Russia.
Kerensky had tried to make the war with Germany into a Revolutionary Crusade and launched a major offensive, this failed badly. Kornilov saw that the problem was the lack of a stable political situation ithin Russia. Kerensky becomes prime minister and Kornilov becomes commander-in-chief. This constant change of government and failure in the war may have been the reason for what happened in Kronstadt. The spark for the begging of the July days happened at Kronstadt, a naval base 15 miles from Petrograd. They Set up their own government, when word of this reached Petrograd other revolutionaries saw this as the time to do as Lenin wished.
The July days were not an organized rise for power but more of a combination of events that saw people to view it as one. The Provisional Government may of seen it as one, as a month before Lenin had declared that the Bolsheviks was ready to take power. As the Bolsheviks and Soviets were now closely joined this was to be seen as a Bolshevik uprising. One of the main points of the July Days is that it was a failure and each of the political groups was trying to place blame on to the other. This can be seen in the way the Bolsheviks claimed that they had nothing to do with it but had just come to the aid of their comrades in arms.
The Mensheviks argued that the Bolsheviks had been behind it from the start and were trying to disclaim responsibility due to the failure of it. Another can be seen that the Provisional Government still had some strength to quell an up-rising and that the forces opposing the Government were not united. Due to this action by the government their support and reputation grew and they were able to assert more influence. Seeing Lenin and the Bolshevik party as the leaders of the uprising they began to round up the leaders, Lenin fled back to Finland and the Government was able to launch a propaganda campaign to brand him as a German Traitor.
At this point the Bolsheviks had lost most of their support and were weakened to the point of lmost disappearing as a dominant political party in Russia all together. The question then arises, was the Bolshevik party directly responsible for the July days? We know that the sailors at Kronstadt formed an armed up rising under Bolsheviks slogans such as “all power to the soviets” and went into Petrograd. Here we are able to see a separation in goals of the Bolsheviks. The middle ranking Bolsheviks were happy to support this grab for power but some of the higher ranks preferred to “wait and see”.
Without the full support of the party only a half hearted effort would have been made which suggests its failure. The standard view of soviet writers before 1980’s was that the Bolsheviks took little part in the events” Lenin and the Russian Revolution, Steve Phillips The reason for this belief I feel is that they were able to shape history as they saw fit, they could change fact to fiction and fiction to fact as they pleased. But as new information came out of Russia we are able to see that the Bolsheviks lack of fully supporting the revolution could be seen as a mistake.
As they were blamed for the up-rising if they had put all of their recourses they may have been successful or earn more respect for not trying to back out of the matter. The outbreak was not Bolshevik inspired” Years of Change, Robert Wolfson It is my belief that the Bolshevik were forced into taking the blame for the July days and due to this some of the leaders was not willing to support it, where as others saw it as a chance to use the chaos created and topple the Government. So how were the Bolsheviks able to regain power and support from the defeat in July?
The main factor is The Kornilov Affair; this involvement by the Provisional Government undermined all the gains it had made from the July days. General Kornilov was a right wing officer and didn’t support the February revolution. He believed “It’s time to hand the German supporters and spies, with Lenin at their head, and to disperse the soviet. ” Access to History, Michael Lynch This quote from the general suggests that he was more focused on getting rid of the soviets than the war. By trying to disperse to soviet he is engaging all political parties as each of them has members in the soviets, but none as many as the Bolsheviks did.
What is clear is that as the war worsened Kornilov intended to bring men to Petrograd and save the Government from a socialist-inspired insurrection, e told Kerensky of this. What is important at this point is for us to know if Kerensky supported Kornilov or Kornilov was acting alone. It would seem that Kornilov was acting alone as Kerensky ordered Kornilov to stand down and orders his arrest. While it seemed Kornilov army was on its way to Petrograd the Provisional government had begun to issue the Bolsheviks with arms to defend the city.
This can be seen an interesting development that they Bolsheviks were taking arms from the Government they had been told to overthrow. If this was a “coup” by Kerensky and Kornilov somewhere along the lines it ad gone wrong, maybe Kerensky feared that Kornilov would overthrow the Government and enforce Military Law. All of this arming of Soviets was in vain as the railway workers refused to bring the troops to Petrograd. Kornilov allowed himself to then be arrested. This incident had caused a mortal blow to the government as they are seemed to be on both the right wing and the left wing.
Also more confusion was felt in the army and demoralized them more, as little had come of this for them. For the Bolsheviks August had seen their reputation sore, they were seen as the saviors of Petrograd. This act of saving Petrograd helped to wash away the memories of the July days. What the Bolsheviks could have learnt from this is how vulnerable to a military threat the Government was. Kerensky later commented on the Kornilov Affair; “The prelude to the October Revolution” Access to History, Michael Lynch This suggests that after this Kerensky believed the Government was the fail due to this incident.
Why were the other parties not seen as heroes? Other party’s such as the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries were associated with the Government, therefore there support lessened as they would have been associated with trying to bring down the benefits of the Revolution. Support for the Bolsheviks had grown to new levels over the September period. This could be seen from the information we had, but what is more accurate is the level at which people attend meetings of the Soviets. In the few months after the Revolution meeting of the soviets had been fully attended. Over 3000 deputies had packed into the gathering of the Petrograd Soviet at the Tauride Palace.
But as the months passed, enthusiasm waned. ” Access to History, Michael Lynch As the numbers fell to the 100’s this proved to be an advantage to the Bolsheviks as they always turned up in large numbers and they were able to xert influence. This could explain the reasons for such large influence and support from the Bolsheviks. With the Petrograd soviet moving to the left and the Government to the right, a clash was soon to happen. Lenin saw this and commented on it by saying; “Either a soviet government or Kornilovism.
There is no middle course. ” Access to History, Michael Lynch I believe Lenin did this as he knew that people were uncertain of a soviet government but he believed such resentment of Kornilovism was felt with the people that they would side with a soviet Government. Lenin began to tell is party to prepare for a Bolshevik takeover of the Government, he later said “History will not forgive us if we do not assume power” These powerful words may help us to understand how Lenin was such an influential person and a great leader of the Bolshevik party.
Why was Lenin so focused on an overthrow of the government so soon, why didn’t he wait until the Government support had diminished? There was two main problem’s on Lenin’s mind; these were the meeting of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets planned for late October. This issue could be sorted if they were able to overthrow the Government under a banner of All power to the Soviets” this way they would be doing it under the soviets and not the Bolsheviks.
The other was the Constituent Assembly as this was going to replace the Provisional Government and wouldn’t have the fatal flaw of not being elected; due to it being elected it would of have the support of the people. Lenin knew that this would be hard to overthrow for that reason so if they had power before the elections took place they would hold the military power to undermine the results. The Bolshevik party was now deciding whether or not they were going to try and overthrow the Government. Lenin had written letters to the other eaders but they were not convinced at first.
Lenin then came secretly to Petrograd and on the 10th of October they agreed. Two key people in the action of October were Zinoviv and Kamenev, they were still not sure if the time was right and they published their views in the newspaper. Lenin did not prove of this maybe as it would have made other Bolsheviks question weather the time was right or the cause was just. Kerensky interpreted this as a way of the Bolsheviks telling their members that they were soon to rise in arms against the Government.
This played right into the hands of the Bolsheviks who using the actions of Kerensky were able to set up the MRC, with Trotskey as the leader. The MRC allowed them to have direct control over the military in Petrograd and they quickly assumed large quantities of weapons and ammunition. Kerensky then tried to catch the Bolsheviks of guard and ordered the newspapers Pravda and Izvestiya were shut down and he began to try and round up leading Bolshevik figures. Trotskey had been planning what to do once the up-rising had begun and his troops quickly took key instillations which with the lack of loyal troops to the Government caused the Government to stand no chance.
The Government soon gave up the winter palace and this was the end of the Government and Lenin had sized control. Why was their no opposition for Bolsheviks, how was the government unabale to put up any military resistance? One of the key reasons is the other political parties didn’t have such clear aims as the Bolshevik party. This is likely due to the fact that they had accepted Febuary revolution as a genuine revolution, whereas Lenin had not and still believed that another was needed.
This fact would of made it and obvious thing for the parties to help the Provisional Government, or ntil they saw a chance for themselves to seize power. This was seen by Tseretelli, a leading member of Petrograd Soviet and a Menshevik. “Only Bolshevism was logical about revolution and true to its essence and therefore in the revolution it conquered” Access to History, Michael Lynch The Bolshevik party had allied itself with the Soviets and this would have made the impression of it being an up-rising by the people, as soviets had representation in peasants, army and workers.
This can be seen in the slogan “Peace, Land and Bread” each of these points sums up what each group anted and that the Bolshevik party could give it to them. The Bolshevik party was one of the only ones set on peace this shows a lack of understanding by the other parties and the government of the soldiers situation. Both the Provisonal government and the Bolsheviks believed the other to be stronger than they actually were.
This was noticed by Sukhanov when he said that “A good detachment of 500 men would have been enough to liquidate Smolny and everybody in it. ” Access to History, Michael Lynch The Problem was that the Government didn’t have these troops to call upon; his can be seen by in the defense of Petrograd the Government used women and children to defend them. The growing numbers of workers within Petrograd were not all members of the Bolshevik parties some may have still been pro- tsarist.
The point is that more of them hated the Provisional Government and this can be seen when Kerensky called for support from Petrograd during the October revolution went un-answered. This could have been a direct result from the July days, the troops that had come to his aid before where the ones he was now fighting against. The Question, was the Provisional Government doomed from the start of ts reign? The main point to back this argument was that they were not an elected body and therefore would not have had support from the population. “Who appointed you?
Milyukov replied “We were appointed by the Revolution itself” Access to History, Michael Lynch This exchange of words helps to show how the public viewed the government and its claim to power. It was the reminisce of the old Duma and to some would of represented the old from of authority. Another critical point was the partnership it held with the Soviet which undermined its power. The Soviets only wished to look out for the views of the soldiers and workers nd therefore could have made it more difficult for the Government to accomplish its goals.
The Bolsheviks had clear aims throughout 1917 and knew what they wanted and the other political parties were not as focused in their approach. By combining themselves with the Soviets they had control of the army and the workers within Petrograd. Although the Government had no authority claim to run the country and therefore didn’t have the backing of the people this made them a weak opposition for the Bolsheviks. The July days nearly saw the Bolsheviks in ruins. By October they had launched a successful bid for power.