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The successes gained by the Germans were mainly due to their overwhelming superiority in artillery, especially in heavy calibre guns, their lavish expenditure of ammunition, their combat equipment and general abundance of supplies. The Russians, in contrast, were desperately short of ammunition in 1915. Batteries were often silent for lack of shells; each round was counted and even small arms fire was restricted to a minimum. Relieving units came up to the battle line unarmed and took over the rifles of the formations being withdrawn. The fact that the national war industry was all but rudimentary and that no improvement could reasonably be expected before 1916, or deliveries from abroad reach us any earlier, was fully appreciated in higher circles. On the other hand the nature of the country enabled the Russians to take advantage of the depth of their theatre of war and establish defensive positions far removed from the frontiers and so lengthen the enemy's lines of communication, retarding and restricting his means of manoeuvre.
Under these conditions, in 1915, the Russian army might have been kept uncommitted in major operations and strengthened while waiting for improved supplies of ammunition and war materiel. Brought up to full strength and properly equipped it could have engaged in a general offensive in the spring of 1916.
Had the Russian higher command not reckoned with the interests of the Western Allies or only considered national aims, such a course would no doubt have been justified. At the beginning of 1915, the Allied means of defense and the formation of their forces were still incomplete and their battle zone unprovided in depth. The Russian spring offensive which, as we see, was dictated by a desire to further the common cause of the Allies, compelled the Germans to cancel the projected assault in the West and transfer considerable forces to the East. The Western Allies were thus given time in which to perfect their dispositions and supplies and consolidate their
MILITARY CONTRIBUTION TO THE GREAT WORLD WAR 191
lines. They were further strengthened by the entry of Italy into the war.
To sum up, in 1915, in the West, Britain and France were given the possibility of building up their forces and improving their position both tactically and in the matter of war supplies; in the East, the Central Powers made a bid to knock Russia out of the war at the cost of enormous casualties to themselves, while in a fighting retreat of several months and over hundreds of miles into national territory, the Russian army lost over two-thirds of its cadres. (1)
". . . We come to the conclusion," says General Cherfils, "that the Russians saved us from disaster by diverting to themselves the full weight of Germany's offensive potential. The hazardous advance into the Carpathians in the depth of winter brought Austria to the brink of dissolution and absorbed the active attention of the Germans when they came to the rescue. We were saved by the sacrifice of the Russian armies, by the Grand Duke Nicholas and shall never be able to repay the debt of gratitude we owe Russia."
1916. In February an inter-Allied conference set down in general outline the proposed operational plans for the year. It was decided that the Russians would take the offensive in mid June, followed fifteen days later by the Allies. On the Eastern Front a sector between Baranovitchi and Vilno was chosen for the initial attack and the necessary preparations were at once set in motion. At the end of February the Germans upset the Allied calculations by strongly attacking at Verdun. Immediately all the available French forces found themselves committed to battle. To relieve the mounting German pressure an urgent appeal was made to Russia with a request to advance the date of the proposed offensive. The Russians at once attacked at Narotch and staged a series of operations along the northern end of their line from Riga to
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Baranovitchi. This diversionary offensive, conducted by scratch contingents, insufficiently trained, over roads and marshes made virtually impassable by the spring thaw, failed to draw the Germans; no extensive transfer of troops resulted and consequently the main objective was not achieved.
Later in the spring another surprise was in store for the Allies. The Austrians attacked on the Italian front and completely routed the Italian army. Venice was in danger and another request was dispatched to Russia to save an ally in distress. Russia complied, yet is was obvious that the success of any operation so hurriedly staged and large enough to necessitate a massive withdrawal of troops from the Italian front would depend solely on the suddenness and vigor of the attack and not on minute and detailed preparation.
The Russians now switched their attention to the opposite end of the line. In May they fell upon the Austrians. For the sake of speed in mounting the attack all the accepted rules were discarded. The troops went straight into the assault. Yet so magnificent was their dash, so unforeseen and unheralded the attack, that within the first few hours the success obtained exceeded all expectations. By June, when the first phase of the battle was over, the armies of General Brussilov had captured 1240 officers, 71,000 other ranks, 94 guns, 167 machine guns, 53 trench mortars and "minninwerfers," as well as a vast quantity of military booty.
The consequences of this victorious operation were at once manifest on the other theatres of war. To relieve the Austrians in Galicia the German High Command took over the direction of both armies and placed them under the sole control of Hindenburg. The offensive in Lombardy was at once abandoned and seven Austrian divisions withdrawn to face the Russians. In addition, eighteen German divisions were brought from the West, where the French and British were strongly attacking on the Somme. Further reinforcements of four divisions were drafted from the interior as well as three divisions
MILITARY CONTRIBUTION TO THE GREAT WORLD WAR 193
from Salonica and two Turkish divisions, ill as the latter could be spared. Lastly, Rumania threw in her lot with the Allies.
Unfortunately within a few months the Rumanian army was destroyed and its remnants sought refuge behind the Russian lines. As a result the front in the East was lengthened by three hundred miles and brought into contact with Bulgaria and Turkey, while Russia's liberty of action on other sectors was severely handicapped by the necessity of despatching thirty infantry and five cavalry divisions to mar the new "Rumanian Front."
1917. In November 1916 an inter-Allied conference reached agreement on the general outline of a combined offensive in the spring, and at the turn of the year the Russian army, in common with the other Allies, was preparing for the tasks that lay ahead. It was now technically in a better state of preparedness than at any time during the war and abundantly competent to tackle the problems assigned to it. As a result of the heavy losses it had sustained in the previous years, a slight deterioration in the personnel of the army was, however, noticeable. The young recruits were not as well trained, there was a serious shortage of regular officers and noncommissioned officers and the traditional perfect cohesion was sometimes lacking in individual units. Nevertheless the morale of the army was excellent and as a whole it presented a more effective and formidable fighting machine than ever before.
"Few episodes of the Great War," writes Sir Winston Churchill, "are more impressive than the resuscitation, re-equipment and renewed giant effort of Russia in 1916. It was the last glorious exertion of the Czar and the Russian people for victory before both were to sink into the abyss of ruin and horror. By the summer of 1916 Russia, which eighteen months before had been almost disarmed, which during 1915 had sustained an unbroken series of frightful defeats, had actually managed, by her own ef-
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forts and the resources of her allies, to place in the field-organized, armed and equipped—sixty Army Corps in place of the thirty-five with which she had begun the war. The Trans-Siberian railway had been doubled over a distance of 6,000 kilometers, as far east as Lake Baikal. A new railway 1,400 kilometers long, built through the depth of winter at the cost of unnumbered lives, linked Petrograd with the perennially ice-free waters of the Murman coast. And by both these channels munitions from the rising factories of Britain, France and Japan, or procured by British credit from the United States, were pouring into Russia in broadening streams. The domestic production of every form of war material had simultaneously been multiplied many fold.
"The mighty limbs of the giant were armed, the conceptions of his brain were clear, his heart was still true, but the nerves which could transform resolve and design into action were but partially developed or non-existent. This defect, irremediable at the time, fatal in its results, in no way detracts from the merit or the marvel of the Russian achievement, which will forever stand as the supreme monument and memorial of the Empire founded byPetertheGreat."(a)
From the point of view of the enemy the situation at the beginning of 1917 is best summed up by Hindenburg who says in his "Memoirs" that "the only solution to relieve a desperate state of affairs is a policy of defence on all the fronts, in the absence of some unforeseen and untoward event."
This event, alas, was at hand. The revolution so painstakingly and methodically prepared by the Germans and others, broke out in Russia at the end of February. Its causes and immediate effects will be examined in a later chapter. We are now merely
(a) W. Churchill. "The World Crisis, 1916-1918." Vol. I, pp. 102-103, London, 1929.
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concerned with the fact that when it came, it struck at the army from the rear and that the immediate consequences was irreparable and resulted in military disaster. In Western Europe the Revolution was, on the whole, hailed as an event likely to further the prosecution of the War. Allied public opinion, utterly devoid of any factual knowledge either on the Czarist regime or on the origins and character of the Revolution, was inclined to follow a chain of reasoning, seemingly plausible at the time, and loudly voiced at mass meetings at home. "If the soldiers of a Czarist oppressor were able to gain such striking victories, what limits may one set to the achievements of a Russian soldier set free?"
These ill-founded hopes were soon shattered by the ruthless march of events.
At the end of March, Russian headquarters requested the Western Allies to postpone the date of the proposed offensive to June 1. In June the army, still alive to the memory of its glorious traditions, made a single and final effort to serve the common cause. This local advance of several divisions under General Kornilov fully demonstrated the demoralizing effect of revolutionary defeatist propaganda; successful in its initial stages, it faltered, halted and ended in disorderly retreat.
The general collapse of the army proceeded with incredible rapidity after this abortive offensive, and the death warrant of Russia was signed by the troops abandoning their positions at the front and fleeing back to the towns and villages in millions. The Bolsheviks made haste to comply with the terms of their contract with Germany, and, after throwing the front wide open, signed the traitorous peace of Brest-Litovsk in the name of the "Soviet Government."
The best elements of the army, both troops and leaders, refused to recognize this monstrous act of treason and withdrew from the frontal zones to the Southern Steppes and other parts of Russia. The avowed aim of the "White Armies," as they were later called, was to overthrow the Bolshevik Government, repudiate the shameful surrender to Germany and in so doing
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keep the pledged word of Russia by fighting with the Allies to the last.(2)
The events that took place in the West subsequent to the Russian Revolution are irrelevant to this narrative. Mortally wounded, Russia took no part in the ultimate triumph of the Allied arms and at Versailles her former Allies barely deigned to remember the existence of their sister nation who had contributed so much to final victory. Yet it was the measure of her contribution and the magnitude of the sacrifices it entailed that had weakened the internal structure of the nation and prevented Russia from holding out to the end.(3)
Resumed briefly, these then were the main stages of the campaign on the Russian front: at the outset of the war the sudden incursion into Eastern Prussia and the consequent withdrawal of German formations from the West were the deciding factors of the victory on the Marne.
A series of offensive operations between November 1914 and January 1916 conducted with sustained tenacity by the Russian armies and the all-out advance of the Germans and Austrians in 1915 resulted in a period of relative calm on the Western Front by engaging the attention of the bulk of the enemy forces. During those fifteen months the Russians presented their allies with a vital factor, time, in which to strengthen and organize their forces.
In March 1916 the Russians, though not fully recovered from the wounds sustained during the retreat of the preceding summer and autumn, were once again on the attack, this time to relieve the German pressure on Verdun.
In May, General Brussilov's offensive saved Italy from annihilation and later in the year Moldavia was wrested from the Germans and preserved for Rumania.
In Asia, on the Caucasian front, an aggressive campaign and Russian victories over the Turks, forced the enemy to concentrate his forces for over two years on this theatre of war
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and paved the way for British successes in Mesopotamia and Palestine.
The Russian Imperial Army knew both the bitter taste of defeat and the exhilaration of victory, but to the last day of its existence, no matter what the situation, it never failed to respond to the call of its allies. This generous approach to the interests of the common cause, this spirit of sacrifice and abnegation, common to the entire army from the last private to the supreme commanders, was the outstanding characteristic of the Russian military effort during the whole course of the World War. Among all the Allies of Britain and France, none served them more faithfully, with greater loyalty and greater disregard for selfish interests, or equal generosity.
Two and a half million Russians fell on the battlefields of Prussia, Galicia, Poland and Asia Minor. Their graves lie abandoned, unmarked, forgotten. We still hope their blood was not shed in vain. An army that can fight as the Russians fought is a great army and the people by which it was created is a great people.
A regime of terror and sordid crime was the fate of Russia after the war. Amid the gloom of terrible tribulations and awful trials the spirit of endurance, self-sacrifice and the steadfastness of her armies in the course of two world wars shine forth like a bright ray of hope for the future in which Russia will be called to serve the loftiest ideals of humanity, to the utmost of her spiritual ability.
(1) A French military mission, under General Pau, visited the Russian Front in 1915. Subsequently a member of this mission, Colonel Melot, wrote a book summarizing the results of the visit entitled "The Mission of General Pau to the Balkans and Czarist Russia," prefaced by General Pau and published in Paris in 1931. On page 107 he says: "We are now in a position to give a considered opinion on the battle-worthiness of the Russian armies in 1915, based on what we saw, and have no hesitation in insisting emphatically on the excellency of the impression we gained," and further, on page 110: "In the general review of the situation, now submitted, we shall, no doubt,
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be accused of unpardonable optimism. Nevertheless, the statements we made were in strict accordance with the truth at the time. In that case we may well be asked how was it that an organism so remarkably resilient and vital in 1915 could later have collapsed and disintegrated in the brief space of two years? The answer to this question lies in the powerful influence exerted by the sombre forces behind the scenes, of which the general public is completely unaware. The elaboration, however, of this aspect of the situation is outside the scope of the present review."
Colonel Melot describes his book as a "token of gratitude to loyal and noble Czarist Russia of 1914-15." Many things in Russia were open to criticism, but the same might be said of other countries. He admired "the organization, unity, might and faith which were peculiar to her and which had been brought into being in the course of three hundred years by the Romanovs." "The nobility, dignity and tact, exercised by Russia, have gone forever and have been replaced by barbaric Bolshevik methods. The love of Russia for France was sincere and Nicholas II was our devoted, loyal and faithful ally, a true friend, whom it would be despicable to misjudge, forget, or defame." (Ibid p. 12)
(2) The policy followed by the Allies toward the patriotic elements of the former army fighting the Bolsheviks was never consistent and consequently the military assistance, dependent on the authors of this policy, was uncoordinated, sometimes withdrawn, often withheld, and never decisive. Whatever its value in terms of effectiveness or succor to the anti-revolutionary forces, it possessed one positive aspect, in so far as it preserved Europe, weakened by the war, from a probable invasion. The "White Armies" fighting a losing battle for the sake of true democracy and to uphold the honor of their country's word, confined and localized at a critical moment militant Bolshevism to Russia. In so doing they helped to avert a cataclysm which might have reduced the ideals of western civilization to nothing but a sad memory for many generations to come.
Since then many states have refused to react against the disruptive influence of International Communism. This negative attitude is often expressed in passivity (the minimum required for self-preservation) but more generally takes the form of active cooperation and submission to influences emanating from the secret sources of Bolshevism.
This lamentable and, on the whole, despicable policy of cooperation may well be qualified as intervention into the internal affairs of Russia, in as much as it is directed against the Russian people in favor of its worst enemies. It is an affront to the honor of the nations whose governments pursue this abject course for the sake of immediate, material, but nonetheless ephemeral, gains. They become the accomplices of the Bolsheviks and must, to a certain degree, share the responsibility for their crimes.
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These lines appeared in the French edition of "Czarism and Revolution," some years before the last war. Today we need only consider the "Iron Curtain," "NATO," "SEATO," the Baghdad Pact, the effects of the Communist veto in the Security Council of UNO, etc., etc., to question the wisdom of policies condemned more than twenty years ago.
(3) Number of German and Austrian Infantry Divisions on the Western and
Allied Losses (in
round figures dead
100.0 CHAPTER X
THE INSURRECTIONARY MOVEMENT AND ITS RESOURCES
"The great Russian nation," says Dostoievsky, "is composed of two distinct and absolutely different elements. The majority, the vast majority, consists of generous and kindhearted people, gentle, easy of intercourse, very intelligent, astute and industrious, but carefree. They willingly and cheerfully conform to the strictest discipline and are easily moved to acts of the greatest nobility, or the most sordid crimes. I shudder at the thought of what these good people might do were they to be abandoned to themselves, even for a moment, and allowed to cast off the discipline which they so vitally require.
"But, side by side with these obedient lambs, there are others whose hearts are deadened by egoism, whose souls are filled with the most degrading passions. These are the true perpetrators of the crimes being expiated in Siberia and the prisons of Russia. They have invariably exercised an extraordinary, mysterious and quite unaccountable influence over the Russian masses and this influence has always been fatal. Of this I have myself had the most startling proof as, for example, the occasion on which the inmates of an entire prison, numbering about four thousand, were bent to the will of one of these devils, who put the moral ascendency he exercised over his fellow prisoners to evil use and to the obvious detriment of the good.
"For the Russian to be led is a necessity. Free him from the authority to which he willingly submits and he will accept the yoke of evil leaders.
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"My poor country! You are torn in two by those who love you, often subconsciously, and by wicked leaders, whose one desire is to satisfy their own immediate interests and who only heed the promptings of their unhealthy minds.
"May God protect us in His mercy! May He spare us the fatal ordeal of the time when the multitude of the weak will fall to their domination! What horrible scenes shall we then witness, what atrocities, what senseless massacres! We shall see Russia laid waste by famine. We shall know physical and moral disease, treason to our country and our faith. We shall feel the heavy hand of the foreign enemy upon us, we shall taste material servitude, we shall lose all we possess and forget all we love."
These were the reflections of Dostoievsky in the second half of the last century, on the psychology of the Russian masses and the possible influence over them of evil leaders.
It would thus seem that the Russians, though in no way inferior to any other people, stand more in need of authority and discipline than other nations, while this fact becomes increasingly evident at the present time, when Dostoievsky's sombre prophecies are being so amply fulfilled.
Nevertheless, it is equally true that the picture painted by him, in its broad outlines, applies to other countries as well as Russia. After all, the great mass of humanity, in spite of all the differences between nations and the manifestations of their individual characteristics, tends to conform to a single pattern.
The problem which preoccupied Dostoievsky was taken up toward 1895 by Dr. G. le Bon, the French psychologist. He made a special study of the reactions and the psychology of human beings when they are grouped together and in his classical work, "La Psychologie des Foules," came to much the same conclusions as the Russian author. Since then these conclusions have been justified by world events. In this connection and in subsequent works, Dr. le Bon has abundantly proved
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that under existing conditions in France, a communist revolution might well succeed either temporarily, as the first revolution in Hungary, or permanently as in Russia. (a)
Though the overthrow of the existing order in Russia was the openly avowed aim of the Russian revolutionary movement from the early days of the 19th century, yet the actual fall of the monarchy and all it stood for in February 1917, was overwhelmingly and surprisingly swift. (1)
The great reforms of Alexander II (1860-65) and the rapid spread of education, especially at university level, were followed by a determined attack on the social structure of the nation. Herzen, Nechaiev and Bakunin were the original organizers of the revolutionary movement which, at the time, was represented by the Nihilists, beginning with Dobrolubov, Pissarev and Chernishevsky. Bakunin was among the most active members of the First International, though later he angrily tried to undermine it after the failure and fall of the Paris Commune.
The first Russian revolutionaries, though differing on some points of revolutionary theoretics, were unanimous in maintaining that the primary condition of any form of social improvement was the complete overthrow of the existing order and consequently directed their activities to preaching "destruction for destruction's sake."(b)
The general trend of Russian life has always been toward egalitarianism, and, as I have earlier pointed out, this particularly national trait was strengthened by the social reforms
(a) See ''La Psychologie des temps nouveaux" and "L'Evolution Actuelle
du Monde," published in 1923 and 1924 respectively. (Flammarion, publ.,
Paris.) In the last named work particular attention is drawn to the following
chapters: "Defense against Communism" and "Why Europe Is Moving To
(b) In 1848 Herzen called for "destruction of the world by which the
"New Man" was being strangled. Hail chaos and destruction! Hail death!
Make room for the future!" ("From the Other Shore"), Geneva, Page 64.
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of Alexander II. Therefore, a good many revolutionaries considered Russia a difficult target for developing their propaganda. Herzen and his Nihilist friends, on the contrary, thought that this national egalitarian bent and especially the peasant "mir" were factors which could help the Russian revolutionaries in being the first in the world to succeed in a complete overthrow of an existing social order. They freely admitted that Czarism, taken by itself, was an eminently social form of power and that, as far as Russia was concerned, it was the best and only possible form of "bourgeois" government. Hence, for the Russian Revolutionaries, from the very beginning, the destruction of Czarism was not an end in itself, but primarily a means leading to the overthrow of the generally existing social order, first in Russia and subsequently in other countries.
This line of reasoning is illustrated in correspondence exchanged between Herzen and the English writer, Linton: "If we," wrote Herzen, "succeed in bringing about a revolution (in Russia) it is not for the sake of exchanging the tyranny of a Czar for that of a president or a parliament; we have no use for either. We must gain true and complete freedom."
In his turn Bakunin too, wanted to see "all existing institutions destroyed: State, Church, the Courts of Law, Banks, Universities, etc. It is not enough, he claimed, to abolish them in one particular country. They should be abolished everywhere because, among them all and transcending the boundaries of individual countries, there exists a growing bond of solidarity and a powerful international alliance."
In spite of, or rather because of, the factors I have just enumerated, the Russian revolutionaries set about organizing a campaign of intense propaganda with the primary aim of discrediting the Czarist regime. Abroad in particular, it was presented as the most odious form of tyrannies and this in "bourgeois" countries and to "bourgeois" governments, no less detested by them than Czarism itself. These tactics were mentioned in the "preface" of this book; let me now say that they were eminently successful.
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Among the reasons for the success of the campaign, and one which cannot be sufficiently stressed, is the different interpretation of the term "revolution" abroad and in Russia. In the 19th century "revolution" to the average Westerner implied a struggle for greater liberty and constructive reforms; to the Russian revolutionary it meant "destruction." From Herzen and the Nihilists of the seventies down to Lenin, this ambiguity of interpretation has been skillfully exploited in order to mislead the West. Besides, it is useful to dwell on the fact that Russia's enemies have repeatedly made use of her revolutionaries as an arm against her. The defeatist and treasonable behavior of the 1905 revolutionary leaders was by no means a new departure, no more so than the activities of Lenin and the Zimmerwald comrades, when they trafficked with the Germans. They were following in the footsteps of Herzen who, while living in London during the Crimean War in 1854, spent his time writing and publishing seditious leaflets designed to undermine the morale of the Russian troops at Sebastopol.
The Russian revolutionary movement, known as "Narod-nichestvo" was based on political theories which, on the whole, were neither novel nor original: economically they were those of Fournier and Robert Owen, while politically they were inspired by the works of Auguste Blanqui. Together with the latter the Russian Nihilists held that a small, well-organized, revolutionary group could, at the appropriate time, launch a successful attack on the existing regime. But the "Narodniki" went further than their teacher. Blanqui, in spite of all his revolutionary enthusiasm, used occasionally to exercise a restraining influence over his too impatient followers. The leaders of the Russian version of "Blanquism," on the other hand, maintained that:
"The people are always ripe for revolution. Should we wait? What for, and by what right? We cannot and do not wish to wait. Let every man pick up his belongings and set out on his journey."
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"The Journey" meant a direct appeal to the people, a call to rebellion, a resolution to push the masses into revolt to the sound of exploding bombs.
The people, however, are not deemed capable of seizing power. This is no obstacle, for government is the exclusive prerogative of the "revolutionary minority!" Starting from 1875 the mouthpiece of the "Narodniki," "Nabat" (the Tocsin) gave this premise the following interpretation:
"It is evident that the activities of the revolutionary minority, the amount of power and the influence it exercises, are in inverse proportion to the revolutionary potential of the masses. In the event of a weak potential the share of the masses in bringing about a social revolution must of necessity be restricted, while the importance of the revolutionary minority becomes increasingly great. Once having freed the people of the fear inspired by constituted authority, it will offer them the opportunity of demonstrating their full revolutionary strength. By making use of this destructive force the revolutionary minority will, first, annihilate the enemies of the revolution and then proceed to lay the foundation of the new social order, based on the ideals of the people."(a)
What was claimed as "ideals of the people" was in reality the concept of a social order, conjured up by unhealthy and hate-ridden minds. These ideologists of freedom so mistrusted the masses which they had set out to liberate that they quite frankly stated:
"Neither today, nor at any future date, will the people, if not suitably guided, be capable of producing a social revolution. Only we, the revolutionary minority, possess
(a) Quoted from P. Lavrov, "Narodniki (1873-1878)" pp. 173, 174. St. Petersburg, 1907.
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this ability and it is our duty to create a revolution at the earliest possible opportunity."(a)
Propaganda of this kind soon led to the foundation of small terrorist circles, mainly composed of young university students like "The Society of the People's Judgment and the Terror," founded by Nechaiev in 1875, and "The People's Freedom," five years later. Lenin's elder brother (Ulianov) was one of the most active members of the last named society. "The People's Freedom," which accurately interpreted the spirit of the "Narodniki," was the most virile and important of these revolutionary circles.
The fiftieth anniversary of "The People's Freedom" was celebrated with great solemnity by the Soviet Government in 1930. During the ceremonies the veteran "Narodniki" and Bolshevik leaders of today toasted each other and exalted the services they had respectively rendered to the common cause.
On the square, in front of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, there now stands a monument to the oldest member of the society, Geliabov, the assassin of Emperor Alexander II.
The foundation of "The People's Freedom" was immediately followed by repeated attempts on the life of the Emperor, but each time the fatal blow was averted by what seemed a miracle. Of a total of fourteen attempts at assassination the penultimate was the most daring.
On February 17, 1880, at about 7:30 p.m., the inhabitants of St. Petersburg were startled by the sound of a terrific explosion. A dense cloud of smoke rose over the Winter Palace where a powerful bomb had blown up the dining room of the imperial residence. Once again the life of the Emperor, who had stayed later in his rooms than was his habit, was spared, but the casualties were very heavy among the staff of the palace and the soldiers on guard. The effect on the public was one of stupified horror and deep apprehension.
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Thereupon Alexander II ordered the formation of a "Supreme Committee for the Preservation of Social Order" and placed it under General Loris-Melikov. No sooner had the latter assumed his duties than he himself was the object of an attempt at assassination. The "Narodnik," Molodetzky, fired three revolver shots at him in the street as he was driving by in his sledge. Fortunately for the general the bullets lodged in the thick fur wrap he was wearing. In one bound he was out of the sledge, had thrown himself upon his assailant, seized him and handed him over to the police to the loud cheers of the onlookers. Next day, after a summary trial, Molodetzky was publicly hanged before a crowd several thousand strong who had gathered to witness the first public execution in Russia for over fifty years.
In spite of the intensified activities of the revolutionaries Loris-Melikov, who was as liberally minded and as generous as his master, the Emperor, wanted at all cost to persevere with the proposed policy of liberal reforms. The Supreme Committee was dissolved, Loris-Melikov became Minister of the Interior and at once drew up the draft of a constitution which was examined and approved by a special commission. On March 12th the Emperor signed the manifesto which was to announce to the nation the creation of a representative body, joined to the Council of Empire, and ordered Melikov to publish the manifesto on March 14th.
On March 13th, when the Emperor was returning in his carriage to the Winter Palace from a Sunday parade of his Guards, a young man in the front row of the crowd lining the quays of the Catherine Canal, threw a bundle wrapped in paper at the horses' feet. There was a blinding flash and the sound of an exploding bomb. A cloud of acrid smoke and snow rose into the air, followed by the sound of splintering wood and glass, the cries and moans of the wounded. The Emperor stepped out of his carriage unhurt and ran to their assistance. The crowd surged forward and somebody cried out: "Is Your Majesty hurt?" "No, thank God! I am safe," replied the Emperor. "Your thanks are, perhaps, premature" shouted an on-
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looker who had been leaning against the railing of the quay a few yards away. With this he tossed another bundle into the air. There was another explosion, another whirlwind of smoke and snow. When it had cleared, wounded, dying and killed were lying on the bloodstained snow. The Emperor, the lower part of his face smashed, his legs bare and shattered and bleeding all over, was vainly trying to raise himself on his hands.
This Czar, whom his people had christened "The Liberator" could well repeat the words of our Saviour: "Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?"
A few days after his father's death, Alexander III, the new Emperor, summoned a Council of State to reexamine the question of the constitution. Many of the high officers of state at the council considered that the proposed representative body would fittingly crown the policy of great reforms introduced by their murdered monarch. In view, however, of the tragic circumstances of his death, they showed some hesitation in pressing their opinion. The problem was solved by Pobedono-stzev (2), an eminent lawyer and former professor of the University of Moscow who was Procurator (President) of the Holy Synod.
"If the measures proposed by Loris-Melikov are adopted," he said, "the only thing we can do is to say "Finis Russiae!" A constitutional form of government is being suggested for Russia! The example of Western Europe proves that the idea is based on false premises. If it took root in Russia it would at once be a misfortune and a catastrophe."
He followed this statement by giving particular reasons why the proposed measure was not only untimely but dangerous, and ended by saying:
"What we are being asked to do is to assent to the creation of one more 'chattering hall' at a time when the mortal
THE INSURRECTIONARY MOVEMENT AND ITS RESOURCES 209
remains of a generous Russian monarch, murdered by Russians in broad daylight, lie still unburied in the Cathedral."
Pobedonostzev's speech deeply impressed Alexander III and the constitution was not granted.
As a result of these tragic events, the government took a firm hand with the revolutionaries. Members of "The People's Freedom," the authors and perpetrators of the crimes committed in recent years, were arrested, tried and some of them executed.
After the accession of Alexander III, acts of terrorism were a rare occurrence and during his reign the nation enjoyed an unbroken period of peace and increasing prosperity.
A severe defeat had been inflicted on the revolutionary campaign of the "Narodniki." Their subsequent forays into the countryside produced no results and their efforts to stir the peasants into revolt proved fruitless. The "moujiks," allegedly the possessors of a "communist cranium," according to the agitators, either refused to budge, or "revolted" against the propagandists and handed them over to the authorities with hands bound behind their backs. As a result of their campaign of political murder the "Narodniki" had alienated the sympathies of the broad masses of the "intelligentia" and the progressive elements of Russian liberalism. In fact, the whole nation was against them, while the repressive measures of the government gradually removed their most dangerous members. The majority sought refuge abroad and there settled down to analyze the causes of their failure and to hatch plans calculated to succeed in the future.
Precisely at this time Russian industry was, as we know, entering a period of great expansion: railroads were being built; mining, metal, oil and a host of other industries were either springing up, or expanding with astounding rapidity. The birth or development of huge industrial concerns with the conse-
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quent increased demand for manpower was bringing into being a new class of society—the labor force.
The revolutionary exiles turned to the study of the labor movements in Europe and the teachings of Karl Marx and of Engels. They came to the conclusion that the young Russian labor class offered fertile ground for propaganda and that by utilizing this class to the exclusion of any other they could reach their goal.
In 1883, Plekhanov, Axelrod, Ignatov, Deitch and Zassulitch, some of them old terrorists, founded the "Group for the Liberation of Labor" and published a series of pamphlets popularizing the teachings of Karl Marx under the general heading of "The Library of Modern Socialism."
In fact, the real beginning of the Russian Social Democratic Movement, wholely imported from Germany and messianic in trend(a) dated from the foundation of this society, as well as the introduction into Russia of the Marxist concept of class warfare, (b)
Two books by Plekhanov, "Our Differences" and "Socialism and the Political Struggle," heralded the dawn of the new party. These works contained a criticism of the principles of "The People's Freedom" and a broad outline of the party program. Whereas the "Narodniki" had based their hopes on the "mir" and the peasants, Plekhanov now showed that the "mir," by tending toward peasant private ownership and thus giving rise to a petty bourgeoisie, was essentially hostile to any form of revolutionary spirit. Consequently, in order to lead Russia to communism, reliance would have to be placed solely on the labor class. Suitably indoctrinated by the revolutionaries, this class would soon discover the existing antagonism between its own interests and those of the bourgeoisie and would pave the way to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
(a) The theory of modern neo-messianism is clearly defined in "Jesus," a
work by the communist writer, Henri Barbusse.
(b) Among others the works of General A. Spiridovitch and R. Labry
(Payot. publ.) contain useful information on Russian Social Democracy.
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The influence of these two books on the militant section of Russian youth was enormous. At once political circles were formed where the good Marxist gospel was discussed and debated by an initially small clan of young "intelligentsia." The first of these groups was founded in St. Petersburg by the Bulgar, Blagoiev, and was composed of sixteen university students of both sexes, two engineers, a journalist, and two forrner "Narodniki." Others sprang up in all the Russian university towns and copies of "The Library of Modern Socialism" were circulated among them in large numbers.
The political program of Russian social democracy was beginning to take shape: to free labor from the yoke of capitalism by the common ownership of the means of production. The realization of this program depended on the seizure of power in every country by the workers, only feasible by "international revolution," directed by an "international of labor." Such, then, were the definitely communist principles as formulated in the "Draft program of the Russian Social Democrats" published in 1885 by the "Group for the Liberation of Labor."
After 1894 this period of preparatory revolutionary work, so far largely theoretical and intellectual, was succeeded by a new and more active stage. Social democrat university students started mixing with the labor classes in order to "organize" them and incite them to direct political action. Their task was facilitated by the bad harvests of 1893 and 1894 which, by depriving industry of an internal market, produced an economic crisis and restlessness among the workers. Rioting occurred in many cities. The social democrats, always at the head of the movement, were guided in their activities by the rules contained in a clandestine pamphlet "On Agitation," published abroad and prefaced by Axelrod of the "Group for the Liberation of Labor." In it strike action was urged as the grand means of educating the workers: by striking they would be brought to realize that their demands could not be met under the existing political and economic conditions. Henceforward they
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would be ready for the struggle which, in turn, would overthrow the Czarist regime and destroy the bourgeoisie.
This kind of propaganda resulted in a marked increase in the number and size of strikes as, for instance, that of the textile workers in St. Petersburg in 1896. It was organized by the "Union for the Struggle to Liberate the Working Class," founded by a group of young social democrats, one of them Lenin (Ulianov) who, after graduating at the University of St. Petersburg, had just returned from Switzerland where he had been in contact with Plekhanov. The years 1895 and 1896 witnessed the formation of numerous leagues and syndicates of workers. In 1897 an organization was formed which exercised a decisive influence on the development of the Social Democratic Party and served as a model for its internal organization. This was the "Bund" or "Jewish Workers' General Union of Russia and Poland," governed by a central committee and possessing its own mouthpiece, the "Arbeiterstimme." Labor centers emerged from their recent isolation and united into groups; a vast network of affiliated branches, all moved by a common inspiration, rapidly spread over the country. These tactics resulted in the first congress of the Social-Democratic Party, held at Minsk in March 1,1898.
There were only nine delegates present, yet the event was one of great importance because of the manifesto issued by the congress. Entitled "Manifesto of the Russian Social-Democratic Party," it both gave the party an official name and explicitly laid down the aims it was to pursue: "The Russian proletariat will throw off the yoke of Czarism in order to fight capitalism and the bourgeoisie, until complete victory of socialism is achieved." Hommage was also rendered to the "glorious work" of "The People's Freedom," whose heir, on new foundations, the Russian Social-Democratic Party now proclaimed itself to be.
After the congress of Minsk the party propaganda agents continued their work of organizing the working classes all over Russia. Experience had taught them that it was easier to in-
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fluence the labor classes by appealing to their individual and immediate interests than by initiating them into the theory of communism. A number of agents were of the opinion that the best method was to incite the workers to fight for the improvement of their conditions and then utilize the inevitable opposition of the owner class to further the doctrine of socialism. This particular approach caused a certain amount of friction inside the party. Some members wanted to see collectivism attained by evolution and after agreement with the radical opposition, others feared that the revolutionary zeal of the working class might weaken when it realized that the betterment of its lot did not solely depend on the existing political situation. The supporters of this latter view contemptuously called their opponents "economists."
Plekhanov and Lenin were openly hostile to the "economists." Together with Martov (Zedelbaum) and Starovier (Potressov), they founded abroad a political journal called "Iskra" (The Spark), the first copy of which was printed in December 1900. From then on the Social Democrats who took their lead from this periodical, were known as "Iskrovtsy." Lenin, a member of the central committee of the Party and who since 1900 was installed abroad, in 1902 published a pamphlet entitled "What Should We Do?" bearing the imprint of the political conceptions which were to remain distinctively his until the time of his death: Social democracy was a revolutionary party. Its members were conspirators and revolutionaries who should, unreservedly, resort to any and every means leading to the overthrow of the government and of the bourgeoisie. The campaign conducted by "Iskra" was so intense that the lukewarm supporters and the "Economists" faded out and were no more heard of.
After 1903 the wave of strikes increased and all now bore a definitely revolutionary stamp. There were imposing processions of strikers who chanted revolutionary songs and carried immense red banners. Serious clashes with the police were a common occurrence. The conviction that an armed conflict with
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the government was both inevitable and necessary was taking root in the mind of the workers. Success, however, depended on the support of the armed forces and propaganda among the officers and in the ranks was intensified. As early as 1902 a league of revolutionary officers had been reported. The Social-Democratic Party was making increasing preparations for armed rebellion.
In order to strengthen the unity of the Party the organizing committee of Bielostok convened a second general congress of the party. It met in Brussels in 1903, was banned by the Belgian government and moved to London. Out of a total of 43 delegates, 30 represented 20 local organizations. The majority were intellectuals and 13 were professional revolutionaries on the staff of "Iskra," or in its pay. Only four were of the working class.
This congress drew up the main lines of the Party program. "The proletariat is international in character. Power must be vested in the proletariat in order to establish a socialist order of society. Social democracy will turn the proletariat into an independent political party, it will reveal the existing contradictions between the interests of the exploited and their exploiters, point out the complete hopelessness of the situation to the workers and the consequent necessity of a social revolution."
However, there was present in Russia a factor which was an obstacle to the successful development of class revolution. This was Czarism, the only effective check to the realization of the revolutionaries' plans. The following targets were therefore set forth:
First: The overthrow of Czarism.
Second: An all-out fight with the bourgeoisie, thus assuring the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Th'rd: The destruction of capitalism by the suppression of private ownership.
As regards the immediate tactics to follow, the congress decided that, in order to overthrow Czarism, a temporary accord
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was possible with the bourgeois parties of the opposition, the so-called "liberal" parties.
The Party did not fail to reckon with the antipathy to its doctrines of the overwhelming majority of the people. As a result, it laid down that in the event of success the future government was to be composed of bourgeois elements. After this the section of the bourgeoisie tending to socialism should be enticed by every means into supporting the revolution, then openly turned out of office and replaced by the Party at the head of the government.
The speech made to the Congress by Plekhanov, is of interest as it shows the attitude of the Party to parliament, or a constituent assembly.
"The triumph of the revolution—this is the supreme law. It follows therefore that if, for the sake of this triumph it were expedient to abrogate this or that principle of democracy, it would be criminal not to do so. Events might, foreseeably, force us into opposing universal suffrage; in that case the revolutionary proletariat would be justified in curtailing the political rights of the bourgeoisie on the principle of "Salus revolutionis suprema lex." We must be guided by the same principle in our attitude to the duration of parliaments. For instance, if a "good" parliament had been elected by the people in their revolutionary zeal, we should try to keep it in being. If, on the other hand, the elections had turned against us, our task would be to dissolve parliament and that nt within two years, but within two weeks."
The London congress was of supreme importance because of the political program it elaborated, so literally implemented in 1917, and the split which occurred among the members of the Party, an event which considerably affected the development of the revolution.
This split came about as a result of the elections to the cen-
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tral committee and the editorial staff of the Party's mouthpiece, "Central Organ" to which three members had to be appointed. As the editorial staff of "Iskra" already consisted of six members (Plekhanov, Lenin, Martov, Zassulitch, Axelrod and Starovier), Martov and his friends proposed to maintain all the six in office. His suggestion was defeated by Lenin and his followers. Forced into a minority, Martov and twenty other delegates left the Congress. The Party was thus split into two groups: the majority (bolshinstvo), hence the term "Bol-sheviki," for members of Lenin's group, and a minority (men-shinstvo), or "Mensheviki," for the opposition.
Though in outward appearance a matter of internal administration, the cleavage revealed a deep rooted antagonism between opposite approaches to fundamental principles; one, essentially revolutionary, held to the spirit of "The People's Freedom," the other more evolutionary in character and tinged with economism.
The Bolsheviks regarded the Party as an organization composed of conscious revolutionaries who, while leading the "toiling masses" to armed revolt, would nevertheless maintain its own position above them. It must always be borne in mind that the attitude of the Bolsheviks to the workers was one of sustained mistrust, based on the assumption that labor lacked revolutionary awareness and was too prone to compromise with a bourgeois society at the price of trivial improvements in its standards of living. As a result, the Bolsheviks desired absolute centralization within the Party, with the machinery of administration firmly held in their grasp, and took a hostile view to the introduction of labor representatives to the "Central Organ."
The Mensheviks, who opposed this narrow conception by one more democratic in form, wished to see the workers taking part in the voting to various party committees. The struggle between these two approaches explains many of the aspects and facts of the 1917 revolution, of which the revolution of
THE INSUBRECTIONARY MOVEMENT AND ITS RESOURCES 217
1905 was but a dress rehearsal; unfortunately it is insufficiently studied or even totally ignored.
After the London Congress both factions competed for leadership of the Party with alternating success, while the changing pattern of events only helped to widen the gap between them.
The Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks were unanimous in their wish to profit by the Russo-Japanese War for the overthrow of Czarism. The Bolsheviks encouraged the workers to acts of sporadic revolt with the aim of tempering their fighting spirit. The Mensheviks opposed a policy which, they held, senselessly frittered away and weakened the resources of the Party. It was better, according to them, secretly to prepare for a general rising and thus enhance its chances of success. The results of this divided policy were made manifest by the miscarriage of two large-scale insurrectionary movements in January and May 1, 1905. Both came to nothing except for a few skirmishes with the police. In the approach to the elections to the Duma (Parliament), brought into being a few months later—thanks to the efforts of Count Witte and other liberal elements, the divergence of the respective policies of the two factions was once again demonstrated. Lenin and his followers, at the time, boycotted the Duma. The Mensheviks at once resolved to take an active part in its deliberations, with a view of turning it, as far as possible, into a revolutionary assembly. In the event the Duma provided them with an excellent means of propaganda and eventually was a deciding factor in the success of the revolutionary movement.
Nevertheless, both factions of the Social-Democratic Party continued with their campaign of propaganda. Plans for a mutiny in the Black Sea Fleet, timed to coincide with the fleet manoeuvres in July 1905, were drawn up by the Central Committee of the Party. A premature mutiny on the battleship "Potemkin" disclosed the conspiracy and weakened the plan. The revolutionaries were not in the least discouraged as the mutiny pointed to the possibility of bringing a part of the
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armed forces over to their side. "The time has come," said "Iskra," "for us boldly to uphold the daring revolt of the soldiers. Victory is with the bold." Political agitation by the agents of the Party was everywhere intensified.
In Moscow a printers' strike, which began on September 19, 1905, and which at once assumed a pronounced revolutionary character, was the work of these agents. They induced the railway men to come out on October 4th. Immediately there followed a general strike over the whole of Russia; in large industrial centers the workmen paraded the streets carrying red banners and placards demanding a republic.
The first "Soviet (Council) of Workers' Delegates," modeled on a pattern described in issue No. 101 of "Iskra" met in St. Petersburg on October 13th, 1905. It numbered 561 delegates "elected" at the rate of one to every 500 workers. These delegates were none other than the Social-Democratic Party agents in the factories of the capital. The first chairman of the Soviet, Nossar, was soon replaced by Trotsky (Braunstein), who at the time was a Menshevik. The Soviet sat as a properly constituted workers' parliament and its first step was to elect an executive committee. The latter commenced the publication of "Izvestia (News) of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies" and of "Novaya Jisn" (New Life), bearing the motto "Proletarians of the World Unite." "Novaya Jisn," edited by the Soviet, was the forerunner of Maxim Gorky's paper of the same name which came out in 1917. At the time these events were taking place, Lenin, Zassulitch, Deitch and the others returned to Russia.
Similar Soviets sprang up in Kiev, Riga, Rybinsk and Reval. In a few cities the troops were affected. Everything was in a state of violent turmoil, while the universal unrest bore witness to the depth and efficiency of Social Democracy's propaganda.
The whole movement was directed by the St. Petersburg Soviet which was actively getting ready for open rebellion. It published twelve daily papers, distributed hundred of thousands of leaflets and supplied the workers with arms. On December 2nd the Soviet issued an appeal to the people, calling
THE INSURRECTIONARY MOVEMENT AND ITS RESOURCES 219
on them to refuse the payment of taxes, to withdraw their deposits from the savings banks and to arm in view of an impending final assault on the existing regime and the proclamation of a Social Democratic Republic. At this stage the Government took action and had 69 members of the St. Petersburg Soviet arrested.
This was, however, by no means the end. In order to save the situation, the Moscow Soviet, which had in the meantime been formed, decided on an armed insurrection. Its orders were obeyed by some sections of the workers, whom it had previously supplied with revolvers, rifles and grenades. The rising started on December 8, 1905. The insurgents spread over parts of Moscow built barricades across the streets and attempted to seize strategic points, such as the G.P.O., the main railway stations, etc. The Government finally called in the army and, after a few days of street fighting, the revolt was put down and order restored.
Two points should be noted in the events described. First, that without the "rehearsal" of 1905 there would have been no victory in 1917, as witnessed by Lenin in a work published after the triumph of Bolshevism (a); second, the fact that, except for the first four days, the activities of the Soviet took place after the creation of the Duma on October 17, 1905. According to MacKenzie Wallace, the English historian and eminent authority on Russia, the grant of a parliament under duress had an effect exactly opposite to the one anticipated by Count Witte. The conciliatory attitude of the Government from the beginning of the crisis was interpreted as a sign of weakness and, far from bringing about a state of calm, merely helped to ease the task of the revolutionary forces.(b)
The defeat of the rebels in Moscow sealed the fate of the bid to overthrow the regime in 1905. But the lessons learnt
(a) "Childhood Ailments of Communism," Paris, Library of "Humanite"
(b) MacKenzie Wallace, "Russia" pp. 717 and seq. 1912 edition.