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THE BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION OF
By Dr. Peter Hammond
The Bolshevik Revolution
Understanding Revolution & Revolutionaries
Case Study 2
By Dr. Peter Hammond
Bitter Winter of Discontent
The Russian winter of 1916/1917 was
one of the coldest in memory.
On 23 February (by the old-style Russian calendar, or 8 March by
the Western calendar) 1917, 90,000 textile workers went on strike.
By the next day, half of the industrial workers in St. Petersburg
were on strike. By the third day, the number had risen to almost a
quarter of a million.
Defeats Lead to Disaster
The continual string of defeats in the First World War,
the chronic shortage of food and, perhaps most
importantly, the lack of fuel for cooking and heating,
led to what was called the Women’s Strike,
although far more men were involved.
Riots broke out, people were killed. Shops were looted.
On 26 February (Russian calendar) the striking workers began to
move to the city centre. St. Petersburg is built on a network of
islands criss-crossed with canals.
As soldiers closed the bridges, the workers walked across the ice.
Whole military units began to mutiny and refused orders to march
against the rioters.
The Volynsky Regiment refused the orders of the Commander
and shot him. They went over to the Revolution.
Delayed and Derailed
Alarmed by this shocking news of riots and mutiny from his
capital, Czar Nicholas set out from the front to return to his capital.
Railway workers stopped his train at Pskov Station, 170 miles
from St. Petersburg.
There, he received the news of the mutiny of the Volynsky
Regiment. General Khabolov reported that the whole city was in
the hands of revolutionaries, including the railway stations,
telephone exchange and Artillery Garrison.
Worthless War Discredits the Dynasty
On the 8th day, the Czar abdicated, “to save Russia and the keep
the army at the front, I decided on this step… I left Pskov with
heavy feelings; around me was treason, cowardice and deceit,” he
He could not have known that it would be the end of the monarchy
and the end of Romanov rule.
The 300-year authority and reputation of the Romanov Czars had
been squandered in a hopeless war, which had brought nothing
The Czar had rejected
the Kaiser’s offer of a
separate peace, on very
with Germany in 1915.
Had he accepted it the
Russian Empire would
and many millions of
its citizens would have
Disastrous Decision by the Duma
At the Tauride Palace in St. Petersburg, a provisional government
was put together by representatives of the Imperial Parliament,
the Duma. The provisional government of the Duma abolished the
death penalty and dismantled the Czarist police.
They agreed that their priority was to meet the “obligations” to
their military allies and to get the Russian armed forces back into
This decision proved fatal.
The army and the
population in general were
sick and tired of the war.
The country had been
impoverished by this
The government had
completely misread the
mood of the populous.
The Rise of Soviet Subversion
In another wing of the same Tauride Palace, a rival political
organisation was being set up. It called itself The Soviet. They
perceived that the key element was peace at any price.
The Petrograd Soviet issued Order No 1, putting elected
committees in charge of army units. Many soldiers and sailors
interpreted this as a licence to go home.
Even as the provisional government was promising to keep
Russia in the war, the army began to melt away.
Millions of peasants in uniform, sullen, angry and sick of the
wasted lives and squandered sacrifices, wanted an end to the
never-ending series of military defeats.
Unpopular Parliament Committed to
Ruinous War Finds Itself Powerless
Guchkov, the Minister of War, remarked bitterly: “the provisional
government does not possess any real power. Its directives are
carried out only to the extent that it is permitted by the Soviet.
All the essential elements of real power, the troops, the railroads,
the post and telegraph are all in their hands.”
Lenin Returns from Exile
Initially, the allies (France, Britain and the USA) had welcomed the
Revolution in Russia.
High Commander also
was elated and offered
free passage home
to the most dangerous
they could find,
hoping to destabilise
on the Eastern front,
So, Vladimir Lenin came to be put in a sealed train from Zürich
across Germany, arriving at Petrograd’s Finland Station early April
Lenin’s train was welcomed at the Finland Station by a band
playing, La Marseillaise, because no one had yet learned the tune
of the Internationale.
His speech from a top in armoured car was to the point.
“Let us end the war! Let the workers take power now!”
His comrades were shocked.
Internal Squabbles Amongst Socialist
When Vladimir Lenin returned to Russia, he had been in exile for
most of the previous 17 years, running one wing of the small and
quarrelsome Russian Socialist Democratic Party. His Bolsheviks
were the radical left-wing faction of this Marxist party.
Lenin had split from the more conciliatory Socialist Mensheviks
back in 1903.
Promise of Peace Galvanises Popular Support
Lenin found the Marxists in Russia arguing over what to do next.
His own party newspaper, Pravda, attacked him.
However, Lenin had read the mood of the people in the streets.
His slogans of: “Peace! Bread!” Land! And all power to the
Soviets!” came in time to mobilise masses to support the
Catastrophic Commitment to
The Socialist Revolutionary Party had a commanding position in
the Provisional government.
One of their members,
a young lawyer,
was the Prime Minister of
He was also
Deputy Chairman of the
still believed in
continuing fighting the war.
So, in June, he ordered a fresh offensive against Germany. It was
a disaster. In three weeks, 60,000 more Russian soldiers had
Death of the Russian Army
General Knox, Head of the British Military Mission in Russia,
wrote that the Russian Army was,
“irretrievably ruined as a fighting organisation.”
Chaos Prepares Population for
There was an explosion of popular rage on the streets with furious
demonstrators from war-weary soldiers, hungry families and
frustrated citizens impatient for peace, protesting against the war.
Vast numbers were unemployed due to factory closures and all
the while the Bolsheviks were busy agitating.
Banners began to appear on the streets: “Peace! Bread! Land!
All Power to the Soviets!”
Attempt to Arrest Anarchists
Kerensky clamped down on political freedom and arrested so
that Lenin shaved off
his beard and fled with
false papers to Finland,
where he spent
the rest of the summer
writing a book.
Failed Military Coup Further Erodes
Confidence in Kerensky
The Supreme Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, General
Kornilov, attempted a military coup which collapsed in ignamy.
Kerensky sacked General Kornilov. The credibility of the
provisional government was exhausted.
As people on the street declared: All the provisional government
of the socialist revolutionaries had succeeded in doing was to put
up train fares!
The government admitted that
over two million soldiers had deserted from the Front.
Three million had died.
Anarchy Leads to Tyranny
Lenin was delighted. “Never under estimate the power of
constructive chaos!” he exclaimed.
As the Socialist Revolutionary Party and the Mensheviks’
Revolution dissolved into failure, the Bolshevik Central Committee
(BCC) prepared for insurrection.
The capital city was full of deserters and street crime.
The Czar’s Palace at Tsarskoye Selo was looted by mobs.
Officers at the Naval Base of Kronstadt were lynched by the men.
The new Commander in Chief, General Alexeyev, resigned on the
grounds that he no longer had an army to lead.
to Mobilise the Revolution
A well-funded Leon Trotsky returned from exile in the Bronx of
New York with a band of Jewish Revolutionaries from America
who formed the Vanguard of the Red Army.
By October 1917, the Bolsheviks were publishing 25 newspapers
and had a membership approaching 40,000.
The October Revolution
Lenin arrived back from his hideaway in Finland and declared:
“History will not forgive us if we do not take power now!”
On 25 October, by the Old Russian calendar (or 7 November by
the Western calendar), Bolshevik soldiers, sailors and workers
began occupying railway stations, telephone exchanges and post
They also seized the State Bank and the Winter Palace.
The mob of insurrectionists stormed into the cabinet room of the
Provincial Government and declared the Provisional Government
Lenin simply declared: “We shall now proceed to construct the
Council of Commissars
The new government was called The Council of Peoples
At this stage there
was only 2 Bolsheviks
for every 600
the first domino
of an International
Change the world.
Cancelling the Constituent Assembly
The first elections for a Democratic Constituent Assembly was
deemed a “failure” as the Bolsheviks only won a quarter of the
Therefore, when the delegates assembled in January 1918, the
Red Guards closed the session and forced all the elected
delegates out of the hall, barring the doors.
Russia’s long-awaited parliament had lasted less than a day.
The Abrupt End of Freedom of Speech
Freedom of the press was severely restricted. Anyone labelled as
“an enemy of the people,” was arrested and dealt with severly,
often by execution on the spot.
Peace is the Priority
The first act of the October Revolution was to order General
Dukhonin, Commander in Chief of the Russian Army, to sue for
peace at any price. When he refused, he was lynched and a new
commander was appointed.
Leon Trotsky was appointed Commissar for Foreign Affairs and
his first order of business was to negotiate the Treaty of Brest-
Litovsk, a town behind German lines and occupied Poland, which
today is in Belarus.
of the Independence
Of: Finland, Latvia,
and the Ukraine.
All of these were
German lines and
out of Russian control
Lenin declared to the Petrograd Soviet, “to carry on a
Revolutionary war, an army is needed. We do not have one. It is a
question of signing the terms of peace now, or of signing a death
sentence for the Soviet Government three weeks later.”
After accepting the peace terms, Trotsky then resigned from
and became Commissar for War. His first priority was to
“defend the Revolution” against “counter revolutionaries!”
Peace Treaty Prelude to Civil War to
Entrench the Revolution
50,000 Former officers of the Czarist Army were taken into the
Red Army. To keep these military men in line, Political
Commissars were appointed in every unit.
Over the next 3 years, Trotsky’s Red Army grew to 5 million men,
controlled from his personal armoured train.
His mobile headquarters had a radio, map room, printing press,
secretarial staff, a Rolls Royce, vast quantities of ammunition and
All Trotsky’s staff were dressed in leather uniforms. He had
commanders and commissars executed. Some units were
subjected to decimation, where every tenth man was executed.
Murder of the Royal Family
On 17 July 1918, on the direct orders of Yakov Sverdlov and Felix
Dzerzhinsky, with the explicit agreement of Vladimir Lenin,
In Ekaterinburg, the Soviets brutally murdered
Czar Nicholas, his wife, the Czarina Alexandra,
their four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and
Anastasia and son, Alexis and their attendants.
What You Sow is What You Will Reap
Six weeks later, Vladimir Lenin was shot in the chest, arm and
neck by young socialist Revolutionary, Fanya Kaplan.
Before her execution,
“I have long had the
intention of killing Lenin.
In my eyes he has
betrayed the Revolution.
I was for the Constituent
Assembly and I still am.”
The Red Terror
However, Lenin survived the attempted assassination, but his
health was undermined.
The Bolshevik response was to issue a promulgation of an official
state of Red Terror directed by the leather-jacketed secret
policemen of the Special Commission, or Cheka, the forerunner of
the NKVD, which later became the KGB.
Hundreds-of-thousands were executed and millions more
imprisoned in the GULAG, a network of 1,200 concentration
camps which spread across especially the Arctic waste areas of
Resistance to Revolution
The Czech Legion rebelled and fought eastwards
along the Trans-Siberian railway in an attempt to
Admiral Kolchak led the Siberian government of the White armies
against the Reds.
The Socialist Revolution Party set up an administration on the
Volga River, claiming to rule in the name of the Constituent
19 different governments appeared during the course of the Civil
a Turkish and Muslim
land, declared its
Armenia, its Christian
neighbour, also declared
On 26 May 1918,
Georgia declared its
British, American and French troops were landed at Murmansk
and Archangelsk in the far north and at Vladivostok to prevent
Japan seizing it.
and at Vladivostok to prevent Japan seizing it.
A New Bubonic Plague of Bolshevism
Winston Churchill wrote of the Bolsheviks as
“baboons and a new bubonic plague.”
Millions of pounds of western aircraft, tanks, machine guns and
uniforms which were meant to equip the White Army resisting the
Reds, ended up in the Red Army.
into the hands
Millions were massacred during the Red Terror.
Torture and murder of simple was a daily reality.
Devastation, Destruction and
By 1921, the Bolsheviks had ruined the economy.
Inflation was astronomical. Hundreds-of-thousands of workers had
fled the city in the hope of finding food in the countryside.
The entire economy collapsed as iron detachments of Bolsheviks
forcibly confiscated, or requisitioned, all the food they could get
their hands on in the villages, to feed workers in the city.
Thousands of orphan children roamed the streets, prey to disease
A Man-Made Famine
As a result, a terrible famine struck the whole Volga River region.
Millions starved to death.
Unorganised, armed only with pitchforks, scythes and flails,
hungry peasants rose up against their new oppressors in an
attempt to survive.
Mass Murder and Massive Oppression
50,000 Red troops were mobilised to execute whole villages, exile
millions to the waste areas of Siberia and violently put down
strikes. Strikes were forbidden.
All opposition was outlawed. Criticism of the government or its
policies was outlawed.
The independent countries of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan
and Armenia were forcibly enslaved into the Soviet Union.
that it did not
matter if three
quarters of the
as long as the
were communist !
The Black Book
according to the
communist regimes’ own
archives, the total death
at least 100 million
people killed by
1917 and 1991.
As The Black Book documents, communist states
did not merely commit criminal acts, “they were
criminal enterprises in their very essence, on
principle, so to speak, they ruled lawlessly, by
violence and without regard for human life.”
As Joseph Stalin
“The death of
one person is a
but the death
is just a
"They promise them freedom
while they themselves are slaves of depravity."
2 Peter 2:19
The Communist Cult of Lenin
When Lenin died of his third stroke on 21 January 1924, factory
sirens blared out across the country. St. Petersburg was renamed
Leningrad. The decision was made to embalm the corpse.
Inspired by the recent discovery the tomb of Tutankhamun in
Egypt; an atheistic/religious cult was formed by building a
pyramid-like temple where faithful party members would pay their
respects to the “god” of the USSR: Vladimir Lenin.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn declared:
"The world has never before known a godlessness as organised,
militarised and tenaciously malevolent as that preached by Marxism.
Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of
their psychology, Hatred of God is the principle driving force, more
fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions.
Militant atheism is not merely incidental, or marginal,
to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.
To achieve its diabolical ends, Communism needs to control
a population devoid of religious and national feeling,
and this entails a destruction of faith and nationhood.
Communists proclaim both of these objectives openly,
and just as openly put them into practice."
In his drama Oulanem, he wrote:
"The hellish vapours rise and fill the brain,
till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed.
See this sword? The prince of darkness sold it to me.
For me beats the time and gives the signs
evermore boldly I play the dance of death."
Marx loved to quote the words of Faust:
"Everything in existence is worth being destroyed."
"If there is a something which devours,
I'll leap within it, though I bring the world to ruins
– the world which bulks between me and the abyss,
I will smash to pieces with my enduring curses."
"Without violence, nothing is ever accomplished
Under Vladimir Lenin,
one of the slogans
of the Soviet Union was:
to snatch believers
A prominent slogan of the
of the Soviet Union was:
"Let us drive out
from the earth,
and God from
“While they promise them liberty, they themselves
are slaves of corruption…” 2 Peter 2:19
“Who will rise up
against the evildoers?
Who will stand up
against the workers