1. July 3
On July 3, at about two o’clock in the afternoon, there came from Petersburg to see us at Kronstadt a group of delegates from the 1st Machine-Gun Regiment,  which was apparently under Anarchist influence.
On their arrival at the Kronstadt Soviet they were brought to me, as a deputy-chairman of the Soviet. First and foremost I was interested to discover the reason for their visit. Our visitors, who were led by a woman, explained that they intended to organise some public meetings at which they would speak about the current situation and in particular about the attack on Durnovo’s dacha,  which was then occupied by an Anarchist centre.
Even before this time Anarchists of a great variety of shades had frequently come to Kronstadt. They appreciated very well the exceptional role played by Kronstadt in the revolutionary movement, its militant mood and immense potential of revolutionary action, and they naturally strove to win Red Kotlin over to their side, to conquer this bastion of Bolshevism.
We had also quite often been visited by the leader of the Anarchist-Communists, the famous Bleichman, who denounced us in the Soviet because we allowed food parcels to be given to the arrested officers, instead of the poison which, in Bleichman’s view, was what they deserved. I argued relentlessly with the Anarchist leader and his friends, but in general our relations with them were good and comradely. At that time the Anarchists had no serious influence and by their attacks on the Provisional Government they often brought grist to our Party’s mill.
There existed at Kronstadt a permanent organisation of ‘Anarchist-Syndicalists’, led by Comrade Yarchuk, but this had no independent significance and hardly ever opposed us. Yarchuk, a tailor by trade, who had only recently returned from America where he lived as an emigrant, was quite favourably disposed towards the Bolshevik Party and always sought to co-ordinate the tactics of his little group with the activities of our Party. Consequently, we were used to the Anarchists, familiar with their methods of political argument and had trained ourselves to combat them. Semyon Roshal was especially good at this: he knew well how, with his characteristic humour, to ridicule the Anarchist ideology and render obvious the futility, the Utopian nature, emptiness and petty-bourgeois essence of their political slogans, in so far as these went beyond the bounds of our own platform. Naturally, the visit of the new semi-Anarchist group came as no surprise to us. But I thought it my duty to warn them that political feeling was excited enough at Kronstadt and it would not do to stir up the masses to still greater excitement as this might lead to a spontaneous, disorganised outbreak.
They promised not to give the masses any concrete slogans and assured me that they were far from wishing to bring disorganisation into the political life of Red Kronstadt. As the first target of their efforts the machine-gunners chose the 1st Baltic Depot, the address of which they did not know. I was going that way and set off along with them, conversing on political subjects: my companions always carefully avoided any dispute or any criticism of our programme and tactics, evidently fearing that a premature revelation of their intentions might ruin all their plans. When I parted with the visitors I telephoned Petersburg. We had a very good custom whereby I rang Petersburg every day and, asking to speak to Lenin, Zinoviev or Kamenev, reported to them everything that had happened at Kronstadt and obtained the instructions needed for our current work.
On this occasion it was Comrade Kamenev who came to the telephone, and he warned me that we might expect some provocation from the machine-gunner delegates who had come to see us, in connection with the fact that in Petrograd the 1st Machinegun Regiment, despite our Party’s opposition, had already come out on to the streets with its machine-guns mounted on trucks. No other units of the Petrograd garrison had joined them so far, and our Party would not support this irresponsible move.
Hardly had I left the apparatus than I was told that a meeting had been called in Anchor Square. It turned out that the initiators of this meeting were the visiting delegates. In this instance they had acted absolutely ‘anarchistically’ by not only refraining from getting agreement from the Soviet but also ignoring the local Anarchist-Syndicalists, who were close to them in spirit.
The Anarchist-Syndicalists’ leader Yarchuk, suspecting nothing, was peacefully giving a talk in the Army Drill Hall on the enormous theme of ‘War and Peace’ when some men rushed in shouting: “Comrades, to the meeting!” The entire audience, as though touched by an electric current, instantly leapt up and pressed towards the exit. The Anarchist lecturer, left alone, followed his audience to Anchor Square.
Almost all the members of our Party’s Kronstadt committee were already there. The first speaker to address the meeting was one of the visitors. In hysterical tones he described how the Anarchists were being persecuted by the Provisional Government. But the central purpose of his speech was to announce that an action by the 1st Machinegun Regiment and other units of the Petrograd garrison was going to take place the day.
“Comrades,” said the Anarchist with tearful emotion, “it may be that our brothers’ blood is already being shed in Petrograd at this moment. Can you refuse to support your comrades, will you not come out in defence of the revolution?”
On the audience of mostly impressionable sailors such speech as this had a powerful effect.
After the visiting speaker had finished Comrade Roshal tried to make a speech that would calm the meeting down. When mounted the improvised wooden tribune the whole of Anchor Square was frozen into silence. Everyone wanted to hear what this popular and witty speaker would have to say. But when Semyon spoke in his usual sharp and direct way, against the demonstration on the grounds that it was untimely, and beg warmly to advocate non-participation in it, thousands of voices shouted “Get down!” and raised such a storm of uproar and hissing that my poor friend had to leave the tribune even before he had finished his speech. This was the first and the last case divergence between Roshal and the masses during his work Kronstadt. As a rule all his speeches enjoyed great success being listened to with profound attention, and if he was interrupted it would only be by applause or by sympathetic laughter. Not surprisingly, this unaccustomed failure deeply up and shook Comrade Roshal.
After him spoke a representative of the Left-SRs, Comrade Brushvit. (He must not be confused with the Right-SR of the same name – possibly a relation – who was a member of the Constituent Assembly and took party in the Czechoslov adventure.) Our Kronstadt Brushvit was at this time quite Left, and had mastered with great talent the colloquial, peasant way of speaking, using jokes and funny catchphrases.
The Kronstadters liked to listen to him. Outwardly he had a fairly benevolent attitude towards us Bolsheviks, and in any case for tactical reasons, fearing to damage his popularity, never let himself oppose us in any way. At that time there were not yet any serious differences in tactics between us and the Left-SRs and their agitation usually only made our work easier. On this occasion Brushvit mounted the tribune in order to expound the same views as we had maintained. He too was against the demonstration. But as soon as the audience realised what he was getting at they at once subjected him to the same hostile treatment as Comrade Roshal had received, and literally stopped him from speaking. Comrade Brushvit, who had a sensitive nature, wiped away tears as he left the tribune.
After this some unknown comrades who had never addressed a meeting before came forward to speak. They made inflammatory speeches and called for the sailors to go immediately to the barracks and arm themselves, and then go to the landing-stage, seize all the steamships present there and proceed to Petrograd. “There is no time to lose,” they insisted. The atmosphere in Anchor Square grew more and more tense.
Concern for the fate of the Petrograd comrades, who had perhaps already taken to the streets and were even then shedding their blood and in need of support, had a magical effect on the crowd. Everyone burned with desire to go and help as quickly as possible. Their aims were unclear. There was no precise notion of why the machine-gunners were demonstrating in Petrograd. It was enough that a demonstration was taking place. An active feeling of comradeship impelled the Kronstadt masses to take direct action, telling them that at such a moment they should be with their blood-brothers, the workers and soldiers of Petrograd. With such a unanimous collective wave of feeling it was very difficult to go against the stream. However, Party duty obliged me to fight to the last ditch. I clearly appreciated that since our Party did not support the demonstration, we Bolsheviks, regardless of our individual views on the matter, must come out against it, doing all we could to hold our Kronstadt friends back from taking part in it.
With this in mind I asked to speak. The audience listened intently. I began by saying that at this moment when revolutionary events were growing, it could only be to the advantage of the Provisional Government and the bourgeoisie standing behind it to arrange for a bloodletting of the working class. It was therefore necessary to approach all problems cautiously and suspiciously. We could expect from any and every direction a carefully-planned provocation by the Provisional Government with the aim of bringing about a premature, insufficiently organised outbreak by the armed workers and the peasants in soldiers’ greatcoats, so as to drown the revolutionary movement and our Party in a deluge of blood. We must not, under the influence of ardent speeches and without being clear about the situation, take decisions of great responsibility which could have tremendous consequences for the course and outcome of the entire revolution. We must first of all ascertain just what was happening in Petrograd, whether the demonstration of which the visitor comrades had spoken was really taking place. At the Soviet we had a direct line to Petrograd, and we ought first to get detailed, thorough information about what was going on there that day. By setting off straightaway without finding anything out beforehand, we might fall into a ridiculous situation. Furthermore, in the event that our participation proved to be necessary, we must ensure that this participation was strictly organised. We must not rush en masse on to the landing-stage and seize the first boats we came upon, but first of all make a survey of all the shipping available and allot the vessels in an organised way: Then, too, we must check on our stocks of weapons, so as to ensure that nobody set off armed with nothing but a stick.
In view of this I proposed: (1) that instead of marching to the landing-stage, an organisational commission be elected and charged with finding out the truth about the events in Petrograd and checking on the arms stores and the shipping: (2) that this commission telephone its decision to all units with the least possible delay.
To my surprise my entire speech, and the practical proposal which followed from it, were listened to calmly. Moreover the audience, which had now sobered up somewhat, apparently realised how senseless it would be to react immediately to events of which nobody had any serious knowledge. My proposal was adopted. Comrade Roshal, myself and some others were elected to the commission. Complete confidence was shown in the old familiar leader of the Kronstadters, the Bolshevik Party.
For reasons of convenience I had to resort to some ‘diplomacy’, concealing from the crowd the fact, which I knew already from Comrade Kamenev, that the demonstration of the 1st Machinegun Regiment was indeed under way. To have told the meeting that the demonstration had started, that it was an accomplished fact, would only have poured oil on the flames.
Furthermore, I did not consider I had the right to communicate news of this event when I had not yet obtained any information about the nature of the demonstration or the circumstances and consequences associated with it. It might easily have happened that finding themselves without support from other units of the Petrograd garrison, the 1st Machinegun Regiment had been obliged to return to barracks. However, even before the meeting began I had managed to whisper to my comrades on the Kronstadt Committee the news I had received from Comrade Kamenev.
After the close of the meeting, when the crowd of many thousands had dispersed and Anchor Square was empty, we made our way to the Soviet building. Our organisational commission at once decided to summon representatives from the units and the workshops so as to establish the closest contact with the masses. The commission went into session at about 12.30. First of all, the comrade delegates from the units and workshops were asked to report on the situation in their localities. These reports gave us a clear picture. It was obvious that while we had that day succeeded in preventing immediate action, putting it off and gaining time by forming the organisational commission, nevertheless, the action would inevitably take place the next day and we should lose control of the masses. I went straight from the meeting to the telephone room, got myself connected with the Petrograd Soviet, and asked for Lenin, Zinoviev or Kamenev. Comrade Zinoviev came to the telephone.
I informed him of the state of feeling at Kronstadt and stressed that the question was not whether to act or not to act, but was of a different order: would the Kronstadters’ action take place under our leadership, or would it flare up in an elemental, disorganised way, without our Party’s participation? In either case the action was quite unavoidable and nothing could avert it.
Comrade Zinoviev asked me to hang on. After a few minutes he came back to tell me that the CC had decided to take part in the next day’s action and turn it into a peaceful and organised armed demonstration. Comrade Zinoviev stressed the words ‘peaceful demonstration’ and explained that the Party insisted absolutely on this condition, and it was therefore our duty to see that it was fulfilled. As I learned afterwards this decision by the Central Committee, in favour of a peaceful but armed demonstration, was taken on the one had under the influence of my report, and on the other under that of a demonstration by workers from the Putilov Works, who came to the Taurida Palace along with their wives and children.
In any case I was very glad that the CC had taken this decision. Kronstadt at that time was not a quantity that could be left out of account without regrettable consequences. Kronstadt and Tsaritsyn were the strongest citadels of Bolshevism, where our Party possessed immense ideological influence. Owing however to its proximity to Petrograd and its plentiful supply of arms, the political and military importance of Kronstadt was incomparably greater than that of Tsaritsyn. Consequently, for our Party to have broken with the spontaneous movement of the Kronstadt masses would have struck an irreparable blow at its authority. On the other hand, an armed uprising would have been doomed to certain defeat. We might have seized power with comparative ease but would not have been in a position to retain it.
The front was not sufficiently prepared at that time. Despite the intense activity that had been carried on there by a number of our comrades – Nakhimson, Sievers, Khaustov, Dzevaltovsky and many others – our Party had managed through an immense amount of organisational and agitational work to win over only a few isolated regiments which had gained the reputation of being Bolshevik-minded units. Particularly distinguished in this respect were the Lettish regiments of the 12th Army on the Northern front.  However, apart from them and a few other regiments, all the rest of the front was still in the grip of the Provisional Government.
The CC’s decision was therefore absolutely appropriate. On the one hand it provided a safety-valve for accumulated political passion: on the other, by leading the action into the channel of an armed demonstration, our Party carried out a trial of strength, a review of the forces of the revolutionary vanguard which was inspired by the slogan of transferring power to the Soviets, and by its organised Party leadership saved the spontaneous mass movement from a premature and senseless bloodletting. Finally, in the event that the demonstration should succeed and receive sympathetic support from the front, the Party always kept in hand the possibility of transforming this armed demonstration into an armed uprising. In our striving to overthrow the Provisional Government we should have been poor revolutionaries if we had not kept that possibility in view. Nevertheless, the action was conceived and was conducted from start to finish as a peaceful, though armed demonstration.
I had hardly finished my conversation with Comrade Zinoviev when Comrade Donskoy came up to me and asked excitedly to be handed the instrument. Comrade Donskoy was one of the most likable of the activists of the Kronstadt Left-SRs’ organisation. A mature, very intelligent sailor, he possessed a fighting temperament. Young, not very tall, with lively eyes, energetic, enthusiastic and cheerful, he was always in the front ranks and gazed boldly into the face of danger. Among the Kronstadt Left-SRs he was the closest to us, maintaining good relations with our Party, and he was beloved in our organisation. ‘A fight to a finish’ was his element. During the October Revolution he was commissar at Krasnaya Gorka and in charge of the despatch of formations to the Pulkovo Heights. Later, in the summer of 1918, in Kiev, he killed the German General Eichhorn, and was hanged by the servants of German imperialism. So perished this promising, talented youngster who had emerged from the ranks of the Red Navy.
On this occasion, during the night of July 3-4, Comrade Donskoy, after getting connected with the Taurida Palace asked for Natanson or Kamkov, the Left-SR leaders, to be called to the telephone.
From the second floor, where we had our direct telephone link with Petrograd, I descended again to the first floor, to the meeting-hall, and, asking to address the gathering, I told them that the CC of the Bolshevik Party had decided to take part in a peaceful armed demonstration on the following day. This news was received with a storm of applause.
As I was finishing what I had to say, Comrade Donskoy approached the proscenium which served as the speakers tribune and announced that the Left wing of the SRs had also acceded to the demonstration. These words were again met with applause.
Discussion ceased and the meeting voted. The decision to take part in a peaceful demonstration carrying arms was passed unanimously.
It was curious that even the Provisional Government’s commissar, Parchevsky, who tried to please both Prince Lvov and us, and who was present at this meeting, also voted to participate in the demonstration. During most of the proceedings he had slept peacefully in his chair, his head on his shoulder, and probably raised his hand mechanically, not realising as he woke up what it was all about. In any case this incident gave rise to jokes about the eccentric representative of the Government.
After the vote had been taken we proceeded to check our rifles and shipping. But this work took so long that we had to break off the meeting without having finished it, intending to carry out the allocation next morning in Anchor Square before embarkation.
Orders were issued at once for the ships to get up steam without delay. To the organisational commission for leading the demonstration were elected Roshal, me and a representative of the Left-SRs. Not long before the end of the meeting I was called to the telephone by Comrade Flerovsky. He generally participated closely in the work of the Kronstadt organisation, being a member of the Party committee, but on that day he happened to be in Petrograd. He told me that he had just been at a meeting of the workers’ section of the Petrograd Soviet, which had resolved to take part in the demonstration and had elected 15 comrades to lead it. The workers’ section was at that time the only Soviet organisation in Petrograd that was in our hands. “Hurrah!” I shouted back to him, over the telephone. After we had exchanged information and impressions, we agreed that, on the following day, Comrade Flerovsky would come to meet us at the Nikolai Bridge.
The meeting was closed soon after this. The participants, filled with enthusiasm, dispersed quickly, hastening to their barracks and ships, to inform their comrades of the decision which had been taken. Not much time was left before dawn.
2. July 4
Next day, July 4, at the early hour fixed beforehand the whole of Anchor Square was filled with orderly columns of sailors, soldiers and workers, with bands and red flags, gathered at the assembly point for an organised demonstration in Petrograd. As instructed by the organisational commission, I mounted the tribune and set forth the aims and tasks of our visit to Petrograd. I stressed once more the possibility of a provocation I specially warned against any attempt to draw us into an unorganised clash with supporters of the Provisional Government, and advised everyone to refrain strictly from loosing off their firearms. I pointed out that in circumstances of mass excitement, regardless of the timing of the demonstration, even the accidental discharge of a rifle could lead to serious and undesirable consequences. In conclusion I read out the list of leaders of the demonstration proposed by the meeting of delegates held during the night. All the comrades named were unanimously confirmed.
Voices rang out from the crowd assembled in the square saying that some comrades, especially among the workers, had been unable to obtain guns, and asked what they were to do. I explained that since we had been invited to participate not in an armed uprising but in a demonstration, the unarmed comrades had best join with us and follow us to Petrograd. That met with approval, as nobody wanted to stay behind in Kronstadt. It was, of course, a nuisance to set off without weapons, but all the revolutionary workers of Kronstadt greatly preferred to die with their comrades in the streets of Petrograd rather than stay at home like philistines.
At last, after all the inevitable questions had been answered, I read out the list of steamships earmarked for this enterprise, with their allocation among the service units and the workers. Then we moved down to the landing-stage in an organised way, to the music of our bands.
The group of active leaders, the staff of the demonstration, so to speak, took their places in the steamship Zarnitsa which belonged to the fortress. The rest were assigned to various tugs and passenger boats. There was not a single naval vessel in our escort: of all the ships in the Baltic Fleet, the only one in the port of Kronstadt was one hulk which could not be removed from the sea-wall or taken out of the dock. All the ships that were at all capable of movement had been concentrated at Helsingfors and Reval. Eventually, when embarkation had been completed, we left the harbour.
The navigation of our vessels was in the hands of civilian captains who knew nothing about keeping station, so that our ‘flotilla’ observed no sort of formation; the vessels proceeded separately and higgledy-piggledy.
If the Provisional Government had possessed sufficient resolution of the sort shown by the counter-revolutionary Assistant Minister for the Navy, Dudorov, who ordered the submarines to sink any vessel leaving Helsingfors in those days to go to the aid of Petrograd, it would have been easy, by placing a couple of batteries on the shores of the Sea Canal,  to prevent the Kronstadters from entering the mouth of the Neva, and in addition to drown in the muddy waters of the ‘Marquis’s Puddle’ one or two steamships loaded to the gunwales with active, militant enemies of the Provisional Government.
Fortunately, however, this idea did not enter the head of any member of Kerensky’s Government, owing “to its state of panicky confusion. It may be in any case that it lacked the courage to carry out this diabolical plan, from fear of worsening still further its precarious position.”
The preparations to destroy shiploads of men, a measure of exceptional severity, were undertaken at Helsingfors out of panic, fear at the possible appearance before Petrograd of a squadron equipped with long-range naval guns. Although personal responsibility for this disgraceful order was assumed by the SR Lebedev who headed the Ministry of the Navy, it is nevertheless clear that full responsibility for this crime, which was not carried out only because of external circumstances, rests absolutely with the Provisional Government as a whole.
Its agents failed to start civil war between the submarine fleet and the surface fleet in the Baltic only because news of the demonstration was received too late by the Helsingfors sailors and Tsentrobalt was unable to respond to the demonstration as ardently and self-sacrificingly as it was later to respond to the October Revolution. Besides, the feeling amongst the submarine crews themselves was not at all such as to let them lose their heads and move against their own sailor comrades.
We sailed peacefully along the Sea Canal without encountering any obstacles and at last entered the mouth of the Neva. On both banks of the river life was going on at its usual everyday pace, and there was nothing to indicate the events that were taking place in the city. Without hurrying or getting into disorder, our steamships arrived one by one at the landing stage on Vasily Island. Owing to lack of room some of the vessels were made fast at Angliiskaya Quay.  Disembarkation, assembly and formation into columns took about an hour. When everything was ready Comrade Flerovsky came running up to me, flushed, out of breath and in a state of cheerful excitement. “I was looking for you on the other bank,” said Ivan Petrovich [Flerovsky], and he told me the route our march was to follow. In accordance with procedure we were to go first to Kshesinskaya’s house, where all our Party institutions were concentrated at that time.
We had hardly managed to form up by Nikolai Bridge, with the band playing a march, when someone from the Left-SRs hurried up to me and proposed that we wait, because Maria Spiridonova wanted to greet the sailors. She had already tried to make a speech to the rear columns, but the sailors had interrupted her and refused to listen, saying that it was time to proceed with the demonstration. For my part, I replied to the Left-SR that there was no time for that now, and we could not halt the march, and if Spiridonova wanted to make a speech to the Kronstadters she had best do it when they got to the Taurida Palace. The Left-SR went away in chagrin.
In orderly ranks, in an organised way, to the music of a ship’s band, thousands of Kronstadters marched along the Neva embankment. The peaceful passers-by, students and professors, those regular habituÃ©s of the well-ordered and academically calm University Embankment, stopped in their tracks and stared in amazement at our unusual procession. We crossed from Vasily Island by Birzhevoy Bridge to the Petersburg Side, and proceeded along the main avenue of Alexander Park.
Not far from Kshesinskaya’s house we were met by Pyotr Vasilyevich Dashkevich, who was then a member of the Party’s military organisation, colloquially known as the Voyenka. He went along with us.
As we approached Kamenno-Ostrovsky Prospekt, some of the men marching in the front ranks linked arms and sang the Internationale. The entire crowd of many thousands joined in at once. Barefooted small boys ran skipping after us. The further we advanced the more their numbers grew, like a snowball, thronging to the demonstration from every side.
At last we reached the building occupied by the CC and the Petersburg Committee: The sailors formed up in front of Kshesinkaya’s two-storeyed mansion where not so long before the well-known ballerina and favourite of the Tsar had held luxurious banquets and evening receptions, but where now was housed the general staff of our Party, working feverishly to prepare for the October Revolution and the triumph of Soviet power. On the balcony stood Y. M. Sverdlov, A.V. Lunacharsky and some other prominent Party workers. In his loud and distinct bass voice Comrade Sverdlov gave me his instructions from up there: “Comrade Raskolnikov, see if you can move the front ranks of the demonstration forward and close them up more compactly, so that the rear ranks can get nearer to us.” When all were arranged as was required, Comrade Lunacharsky was the first to speak. The Kronstadters knew Anatoly Vasilyevich [Lunacharsky] well: he had visited Kronstadt twice already and spoken successfully at the Naval Drill-Hall and in Anchor Square. He now delivered, from the balcony, a brief but ardent speech, describing in a few words the essential features of the political situation. When Comrade Lunacharsky finished there was applause.
Although the Kronstadters were in a hurry to get to the Taurida Palace, when they heard that Comrade Lenin was in Kshesinskaya’s house they began insistently to demand that he appear.
Together with a group of comrades I went into the house. When we found Vladimir Ilyich we asked him, on behalf of the Kronstadters, to come out on to the balcony and say a few words. At first Ilyich refused, saying that he was unwell, but after a time, when our request was loudly reinforced by the masses in the street outside, he gave in and agreed. 
Comrade Lenin appeared on the balcony, to be greeted with a long undying roar of applause. The ovation had still not abated when Ilyich began to speak. His speech was very brief. Vladimir Ilyich began by excusing himself for being obliged, owing to illness, to confine himself to saying only a few words. He welcomed the Kronstadters on behalf of the workers of Petrograd and, with regard to the political situation, expressed confidence that despite temporary zigzags, our slogan “All power to the Soviets!” was bound to triumph, and would triumph in the end, and for this we needed to show tremendous firmness and steadfastness and very great vigilance. Comrade Lenin’s speech contained none of those concrete appeals which the office of Pereverzev, the Director of Public Prosecutions, subsequently tried to ascribe to him. Ilyich ended his remarks to the accompaniment of a still warmer and more fervent ovation.
After these greetings the Kronstadters again formed up as befitted organised service units and workers’ detachments, and to the music of several of their bands, which ceaselessly played revolutionary tunes, they moved in completely orderly fashion towards Troitsky Bridge. Here we became an object of attention for dandified, elegantly dressed young officers, stout bourgeois, exuding health and repletion, wearing new bowlers, and ladies and young girls of good family, in hats. They were driving along in cabs or walking past arm in arm, but all their faces, as they stared at us with wide-open eyes, bore the imprint of real fear.
From when we left Kshesinskaya’s house some comrades at the front of the procession carried a huge placard bearing the name of the Central Committee of our Bolshevik Party. The Left-SRs noticed this only when we got to the Field of Mars, and then they started to demand that we remove it.
Naturally, we refused. They then declared that in that case they could not take part in the demonstration, and left. However, apart from a few leaders, nobody took any notice of this gesture. The Left-SRs went away, but the entire mass stayed with us.
At last, after crossing the Field of Mars and going along a small stretch of Sadovaya Street, we turned into Nevsky Prospekt and found ourselves in the realm of the bourgeoisie.
Here it was not a matter of just isolated bourgeois strollers, but whole crowds of smartly-dressed bourgeois walking up and down both pavements of the Nevsky. They stared in surprise and alarm at the armed Kronstadters, whom their newspapers had depicted as fiends from hell, the living embodiment of frightful Bolshevism. As we appeared many windows were opened wide, and whole families of the rich and well-born came out on to the balconies of their luxurious apartments. And on their faces was that same expression of unconcealed anxiety and a feeling of personal, animal fear.
The bourgeoisie, which in general is instinctively afraid of any contact with the masses and was now trembling in panic at the sight of ‘the common people’, was unable to hide its bewilderment at all that had happened. I can imagine the curses called down by the parasitic inhabitants of the central districts of the capital upon the head of their class government for having allowed such dangerous (to them) playing with fire as an armed demonstration under Bolshevik slogans. But alas, the Government was at that time so weak, so confused and so uncertain of its own position that it could not permit itself the luxury of firing on the demonstration.
In spite of the fact that the inhabitants and habituÃ©s of the Nevsky were for the Kronstadters a symbol of the parasitic and exploiting bourgeoisie, in spite of the fact that at the mere sight of our class enemies terrible hatred seethed in the hearts of many of the sailors, our march down the Nevsky from Sadovaya Street to Liteiny Prospekt passed off without any excesses being committed. Only when we got to the corner of the Nevsky and the Liteiny (now Volodarsky Prospekt) was the rear-guard of our demonstration fired on. Several men fell victim to this first attack.
Our procession was so lengthy that it can be understood that, while its tail was being attacked, those at the head of the procession did not hear any shots being fired. Later, however, a fierce fusillade awaited us at the corner of the Liteiny and Pantaleimonskaya Street.
Already as we neared Basseinaya Street a mysterious truck had appeared ahead of us. A handful of soldiers were sitting in it, and behind them a Maxim machinegun was mounted. This truck, at the head of the procession, moved slowly along in the same direction as us. The men who were in it were unknown to us, and so we asked them to break away from the procession. Smiling cheerfully, they put on speed, but just then the vanguard of the Kronstadters came up to Panteleimonskay Street. Suddenly the first shots rang out: where they came from we did not know. The men in the truck opened rapid machine gun fire, either on us or on the windows of the houses. What indignation, excitement and at the same time confusion swept through our ranks! This provocation, for which in general we were prepared, coming at that particular moment, after we had already traversed in peace Vasily Island, the Petersburg Side and the central districts of the city, was quite unexpected and caused momentary consternation.
What was so disagreeable was the uncertainty. Where is the enemy? From what direction are they shooting?
As soon as they heard the first shots, the Kronstadters instinctively grasped their rifles and began shooting in all directions. The frequent, but in these circumstances, of course disorderly firing made the impression of a real battle, with the difference, that we were totally ignorant of the enemy positions. Having quickly expended their first clips of cartridges and become convinced of the futility of shooting into the air, most of the men, as though in obedience to an order, lay down on the roadway, while another section managed to take cover in the first porches and gateways they came to. Only isolated comrades, standing in the midst of the street, stilll went on firing with their rifles at invisible targets. This was where the first soldier from Kronstadt fortress was wounded. Several men were killed or wounded.
Eventually the firing ceased of its own accord. Then those who were marching in the front rank – Roshal, Flerovsk Bregman, Deshevoy, myself and others – started to calm the Kronstadters down and call on them to carry on further towards our destination, the Soviet, which was still comparatively distant. The comrades responded readily to the appeal. We asked the band to play something cheerful and gay. The drums beat loudly, the brass trumpets gave forth the sharp blare: and the Kronstadters who had been met so inhospitably resumed their interrupted journey. But whatever efforts the vanguard might make to reform proper columns, they had no success. The crowd’s equilibrium had been upset. The enemy seemed to be hidden everywhere. Some continued to march along the highway, but others moved on to the pavement. Rifles no longer rested peacefully on the left shoulder, but were held at the ready.
When groups of people appeared at open windows or on balconies, several barrels were at once pointed at them, with unequivocal orders to “shut the windows!” The bourgeois-philistine inhabitants of the Liteinaya district hastened to get back inside their houses and hastily lock their doors and windows.
The anxiety and nervous suspiciousness of the masses had not passed off even when we turned into quiet Furshtadtskaya Street. Here, too, the Kronstadters continued to demand of the curious, who rushed in groups to their windows, the same guarantees against a fresh onslaught.
The leaders of the demonstration had to go up to the most worried comrades, slap them on the back, calm them down, saying that the danger was already behind us, and persuade them to pull themselves together and stop terrorising the inhabitants. These exhortations achieved their aim in most cases. The comrades abandoned their threatening postures and gestures. In front of the Taurida Palace, in order to maintain the prestige of Red Kronstadt, we even tried to form up, but even so, we were unable to achieve the strict order befitting a demonstration of organised troops of the revolution. The demonstration by the Kronstadters had been sharply divided into two phases –before the provocational shooting, and after. During the first phase, until the first treacherous shots, the orderly march of the Red Kronstadters could be described as exemplary. But after the mysterious bullets descended on their heads, as though from a horn of plenty, order was disrupted. We approached the Taurida Palace in some sort of order, but it was only relative. This circumstance gave rise to the bourgeois and Menshevik-SR legends in which the approach of the Kronstadters to the building of the Petrograd Soviet was depicted as an affair of undisciplined bands composed of miscellaneous rabble. This was of course a monstrous consciously-invented slander.
Order, organisation and discipline were certainly present but naturally were not so complete as the Kronstadters themselves would have wished, and as they had been before the vile, treacherous attack. Despite their natural irritation and the general nervous excitement that prevailed, not a single excess was committed anywhere along the Kronstadters’ route.
When we emerged into Shpalernaya Street we fell into the midst of a flood of revolutionary demonstrators who, like us carried red flags with gold and black slogans on them: “Down with the capitalist ministers!” and “All power to the Soviets!” Another such flood was already surging back towards us. When the first ranks of the Kronstadters entered the small square in front of the Taurida Palace and approached the snow-white columns, Roshal and the other comrades remained outside with the rest of the demonstrators, while I went inside to report our arrival, ask for a speaker, and find out about the further procedure of the demonstration. Coming upon Comrade Trotsky, I went up to him.
But hardly had we managed hastily to exchange our impressions when somebody from the Mensheviks came up to us very agitated, and said: “The Kronstadters have arrested Chernov, put him in a car and want to take him off somewhere. ” 
Trotsky and I went at once to the scene of the incident, talking as we went about the need to prevent this arbitrary arrest and, at any cost and without fail, to release Chernov. There were no differences between us on that score. When we reached the entrance we passed through the crowd of Kronstadters, which opened before us, and went straight to the car in which sat Viktor Chernov, hatless and under arrest. The leader of the SR party was unable to conceal the fear he felt in face of the crowd: his hands trembled, a deathly pallor covered his distorted face, and his greying hair was dishevelled.
Trotsky and I jumped into the car and tried by means of gestures to restore silence, so as to be able to address words of friendly admonition to the Kronstadt comrades. A few minutes were not enough to restore calm. The crowd hummed and roared, it was in a ferment, with mutual heckling and shouting down.
We could feel the immense hatred of these peasants in soldiers’ and sailors’ greatcoats for the ‘minister of statistics’ who by all sorts of methods, under a variety of insubstantial pretexts, had delayed and put off until the ‘Constituent Assembly’ the settlement of the agrarian question, which was at that time understood in one sense only, as the transfer of all land into the hands of the peasants.
Subsequently, when we were both in the Kresty prison, Comrade Trotsky pointed out to me a sailor, inside on a criminal charge, whom he remembered as a participant in the arrest of Chernov. He saw in this a confirmation of his view that the arrest had been affected by a dozen or so semi-criminal, semi-provocateur elements. I, however, definitely consider the attempt to arrest Chernov was not an act of provocation but was a spontaneous action by the Kronstadt rank-and-file themselves, in whose eyes the Minister of Agriculture and leader of the SR Party, Viktor Chernov, was sabotaging the solution of the agrarian problem and was the worst sort of enemy of the people and of the revolution.
While a vague buzzing of voices rolled over the crowd, merging into a general hum, I, standing up in the car, succeeded in exchanging a few words with the comrades who were nearest to me.
“Why have you arrested Chernov? Where do you want to take him?” I asked.
“We don’t know,” some of them answered, in a bewildered way.
“Wherever you wish, Comrade Raskolnikov. He is at your disposal,” answered others.
Seeing Chernov’s state of confusion, I whispered to him: “This is a misunderstanding. You’ll be set free.” Chernov gave me a sort of vacant look and made no reply: apparently he had no very clear idea of what was happening. Comrade Trotsky suddenly thought of a plan, in case we should fail to secure Chernov’s immediate release – to set off with him in the car, take him several districts away, and there release him. But I protested strongly against this, saying to Comrade Trotsky:
“That’s impossible, it would be a scandal! If you go off with Chernov, people will be saying tomorrow that the Kronstadters wanted to arrest him. Chernov must be set free immediately.” It is difficult to say how long the turbulent excitement of the masses would have gone on if a bugler had not come to our aid by sounding the call which summons a ship’s crew to complete silence and immobility. Comrade Trotsky then jumped on to the bonnet of the car and with a wave of his arm signalled to the crowd to be quiet.
In the twinkling of an eye everything became silent and a deathly hush reigned. In a loud, distinct, metallic voice, rapping out every word and carefully articulating every syllable, Comrade Trotsky made a short speech more or less on these lines: “Comrade Kronstadters,” he began, “pride and ornament of the Russian Revolution! I do not permit myself to suppose that the decision to arrest the socialist minister Chernov was deliberately taken by you. I am sure that not one of you is in favour of this arrest, and that not a single hand will be raised to cloud our demonstration today, our festival, our solemn review of the forces of the revolution, which calls for no arrests. Whoever is for violence, let him raise his hand.” Comrade Trotsky stopped speaking and cast his eye over the whole crowd, as though throwing down a challenge to his opponents: The crowd, listening with strained attention to his speech, remained frozen in dumb silence. Nobody opened his mouth, nobody uttered so much as a word of objection.
“Citizen Chernov, you are free,” said Comrade Trotsky solemnly, turning right round towards the Minister of Agriculture and with a motion of his hand inviting him to get out of the car. Chernov was half-dead. I helped him get out of the car: with a sluggish, exhausted look and unsteady, irresolute gait he walked up the steps and disappeared into the entrance-hall of the Palace. 
After that, I said a few words. It seemed to me important to prevent any repetition of incidents of a character that would transform the demonstration into a direct prelude to a seizure of power. I reminded the Kronstadt comrades of my words that morning in Anchor Square, and stressed that we were guests of the Petrograd workers and could not independently take any responsible decisions off our own bat. In conclusion I pointed out that, if our tasks had exceeded those of a peaceful demonstration, we should of course have made our way not to the Taurida Palace, where only the ‘socialist ministers’ were to be found, but to the Mariinsky Palace, where the capitalist ministers were. 
After me somebody else spoke and in this way an improvised meeting took place. I remember that near the car which had served as a place of detention for Chernov and a tribune for us stood Grigory lvanovich Petrovsky, who was watching very attentively everything that went on. Under the influence of our speeches the crowd had noticeably calmed down.
Roshal and I went into the Palace to discover what the Kronstadters were to do next. Upstairs, in the gallery which ran round the meeting-hall, we met Vladimir Ilyich as he came out of the room where a meeting of the leading group of the CC had just concluded.  llyich was in a good mood. It was clear that the broad sweep of the demonstration which had been developed under our slogans, the undoubted success won by our Party, was making him profoundly happy.
Semyon and I continued to look for some comrade who could give us instructions regarding the programme of further action.
At last, downstairs, in the premises of the Bolshevik fraction we found Comrades Zinoviev and Trotsky. Comrade Trotsky was at that time not yet formally a member of our Party.
Roshal and I went up to Comrade Zinoviev and asked for instructions. “We must discuss this at once,” he replied. A gathering of active Party workers was soon assembled. Quite a few were present – about twenty altogether. Speeches were made, first by Zinoviev, then by Trotsky, then by me, and last by Roshal. Though they looked at the question from different angles, all came to the same conclusion: the demonstration must be regarded as finished, the participants must be asked to return to barracks. It was decided that the Kronstadters should in any case remain in Petrograd for the time being. Everyone agreed that despite the success of that day’s demonstration, the conditions had not yet matured for an armed uprising and seizure of power. The meeting did not last long.
After that, Semyon and I separated. I remained at the Taurida Palace, so as to attend the meeting of the Central Executive Committee and become au fait with the course of political decisions and sentiments, while Roshal went off to billet the Kronstadters. They had been assigned rooms in Kshesinskaya’s house, the Peter-and-Paul fortress, the Naval College and the Deryabinsk barracks.
I went up to the public gallery and sat down in the front row. Outside it was already dark. The hall of the former State Duma was dazzlingly lit by invisible electric lamps, hidden behind the cornices, which cast their bright, suffused reflection from the glass ceiling. The session was in full swing. They were discussing that day’s demonstration. The right-hand and central sectors of the amphitheatre were full of SRs and Mensheviks, while the left-hand benches were comparatively empty of comrades.
One after another the pillars of the ‘social-traitor’ parties went to the tribune to denounce our Party, which they alleged had broken the unity of the ‘democratic front’. But in all their speeches one sensed great confusion and uncertainty about the morrow. On the evening of July 5, and after, when the troops started to arrive from the front, the ‘social-compromisers’ felt firm ground under their feet, and at once the whole tone of their speeches about our demonstration changed sharply, becoming much more provocative, malicious and aggressive, mingled with a feeling of elemental hatred akin to the pogrom mood, with an aroused thirst for vengeance for their previous confusion. But on July 4, at that evening session of the Central Executive Committee, which went on into the night, when the Provisional Government as yet had hardly any troops in Petrograd on which it could rely and when, despite the lateness of the hour, the Taurida Palace was surrounded by a whole sea of demonstrators coming and going, the tone of the speeches made by the Menshevik and SR leaders was very restrained and cautious.
Avksentiev, Dan and company made long, empty speeches in which one felt no sense of struggle, but which were just flabby criticism and reproaches directed at us. The general mood of the Central Executive Committee was one of apprehension. The events in the street were reflected in the psychology of the SR and Menshevik majority.
During Dan’s speech an episode occurred which vividly reminded me of a scene from the Great French Revolution of which I had read, Dan, who was wearing an army doctor’s uniform, had hardly managed to hand over his chairman’s bell and, descending to the speaker’s tribune, to begin playing his barrel-organ at about 1.30a.m. when suddenly a worker hurried down from the public gallery and shouted in a loud, hysterical voice: “Comrades, out there in the street the Cossacks are firing on the people.”
It was as though an electric spark ran through the entire hall. The deputies became agitated and started to talk among themselves, some rising from their seats.
Tsereteli, who was sitting in the Presidium, jumped up hastily and tried to get to the exit, but he was at once persuaded to stay in the hall. Dan called on the members of the Central Executive Committee not to get excited but to remain seated, while he, breaking off his speech, left the tribune and went out of the hall. A few minutes later he returned and reported that the horse of one of the cavalrymen stationed in front of the Taurida Palace had gone mad, and this had caused a panic, and then immediately shots had rung out and an exchange of fire had begun. “But measures have been taken, and all is well now.” Dan concluded his communication and went on with his indictment of the Bolsheviks.
Shortly before the end of the meeting Roshal suddenly appeared beside me. He said that the Kronstadters had already been settled in their barracks, and he was very pleased with the general mood of our Kronstadt friends. The meeting soon concluded, and Sima and I, exchanging our impressions of that day, so rich in experiences, went out into the street.
3. July 5
First thing next day I went to Kshesinskaya’s house. Working here harmoniously under one roof were the Central Committee, the Petersburg Committee and the Military Organisation attached to the Central Committee. One could always find here a large number of Party comrades, from Vladimir Ilyich himself to a worker who had come on a visit from the provinces.
All the secretariats were also concentrated in this building, which greatly facilitated practical relations and inquiries. Comrade Stasova was working in the Central Committee secretariat at that time and Comrade Bokiy was the secretary of the Petersburg Committee. All the current work of the ‘Voyenka’ was conducted by Comrades Podvoisky and Nevsky.
Here too was housed the editorial department of Soldatskaya Pravda (‘Soldiers’ Truth’), where one could always find Comrade Mekhonoshin, with a heap of manuscripts.
Masses of people were constantly crowding into Kshesinskaya’s house. Some came on business to one or other of the secretariats, others to the bookstore, where agitational literature was sold, yet others to the editorial department of Soldatskaya Pravda, others again to attend some meeting. Meetings were held very frequently, sometimes without a break, either in the spacious room downstairs or in the room with the long table upstairs which had evidently been the ballerina’s dining room.
Agitational speeches were made almost every day. On the more ceremonial occasions and before the broad masses, these were delivered from the balcony. They were made regularly from the stone summer-house at the corner of Kshesinskaya’s garden, at the junction of Bolshaya Dvoryanskaya Street and Kronverksky Prospekt. Comrade Sergei Bogdatyev spoke there especially often. It could happen that when you had come to the Central Committee or the Petersburg Committee and spent a couple of hours there, settling a mass of problems and talk with a dozen comrades, and you were on your way home, would catch sight of Sergei Bogdatyev, nodding his head in a way that was typical of him, still carrying on with his speech the rich, truly inexhaustible subject of “the current situation.” The audience at these small street meetings in from Kshesinskaya’s house was sharply divided as regards its composition into two categories: the first consisted of workers who had come specially from the remote outskirts, or else from somewhere nearby in the obscure streets of the Petersburg Vyborg Sides. They gathered here to learn the ABC of politics and to hear their own Bolshevik speakers. These were regular element in these ‘flying’ meetings. They pressed close to the iron railing, encompassing the speaker with a solid and listened attentively, fearing to miss even one word.
The other section of the audience was made up of our bourgeois philistines, who either happened to be passing by or else were spectators who had come there intentionally, ‘to a look at Lenin’, attracted by the noisy publicity given Kshesinskaya’s house by the bourgeois press ever since Party organs were established there. These people were a fluid element, changing minute by minute: they listened with vacant expressions on their faces, inwardly angry but, as a rule, not daring to raise their voices. This ‘public’ did not remain long before the speaker’s summer-house.
But on July 5 there stood in this summer house, built by Tsar’s favourite for luxury and repose, in place of the usual orator, a machine-gunner with a machinegun. Without going upstairs I proceeded straight to the office of the Military Organisation. There I found the defacto chairman of the Venka, Comrade Podvoisky, Ensign Dashkevich, our Party well-known worker in the trade unions Comrade Tom, Comrade Yeremeyev and several other responsible Party workers. Comrade Dashkevich left soon afterwards for a meeting of the Central Executive Committee, of which he was member.
The comrades at once informed me of the strong rumour that was circulating to the effect that the Provisional Government was preparing to attack us. To illustrate, so to speak, the situation facing us, Konstantin Stepanovich [Yeremeyev] – troubled, yet not hurrying, and not omitting any significant details – told us about the sacking of the office of Pravda which had taken place the previous night, before his very eyes. It was explained that, in view of the generally alarming atmosphere and the real possibility of fresh pogroms and sackings, the CC had decided to propose to the workers, soldiers and sailors that on July 5 they should remain in their quarters, while being ready to come out into the streets at the first summons. The Military Organisation’s most urgent task was to prepare for defence in the event of an attack, and in connection with this, to choose a commandant for Kshesinskaya’s house. The Military Organisation chose me for this responsibility. I immediately set about checking on our armed forces and resources. At the entrance to the house stood a formidably armoured motor-car with a reliable crew. Next, I attended to the ‘machinegun posts’ –one machinegun in the summer-house on the corner, and another on the roof. The field of fire for both of them was wide enough, covering the whole of Troitskaya Square, the Troitsky Bridge, part of Alexander Park, Kronverksky Prospekt and Bolshaya Dvoryanskaya Street. A third machinegun was set up inside the house, on the lower landing of the staircase. I made it my first priority to give instructions to the machine-gunners and to the commander of the armoured car.
Since we ourselves had no aggressive or offensive intentions, our sole task was direct defence of our building, in which were kept all the Party’s documents and records. The machine-gunners were ordered not to be the first to open fire. Even if a mob or a military detachment should appear, they must be allowed to approach, and fire opened only after they had definitely manifested hostile intent.
After going all round the building and making the necessary dispositions, I assembled in the ground-floor hall the internal garrison of Kshesinskaya’s house, which consisted of Kronstadt sailors who had come with us to Petrograd the day before. I explained to them the military tasks that faced us.
The morale of the Kronstadters was excellent. They were all aflame with desire to give battle to the defenders of the Provisional Government. However, having acquainted myself with the state of affairs and the initial preparations, I was convinced that our forces were inadequate and not ready for defence. We needed to liaise with neighbouring units, arrange for them to support us, and make up for the insufficient numbers of our fighting men by strengthening our primitive fortress technically.
I proposed to Semyon Roshal, who arrived just at that time, that, being a good agitator, he go to the barracks of the Grenadier Regiment and the Peter-and-Paul Fortress and raise the morale of these neighbours of ours, so as to make them reliable allies who would be ready to give us a hand at a difficult moment. With a view to strengthening our defences technically I sent an urgent message to the Kronstadt Executive Committee requesting that they at once send us some guns, with a full complement of shells.
Just about this time two sailors from the Naval Firing-Range came to Kshesinskaya’s house and urged me to send a truck to fetch some light guns from their unit. I willingly agreed to their suggestion, since lack of artillery was the most vulnerable aspect of our defences. Armed with a written order from me the comrades from the Firing-Range set off at speed.
The CC’s resolution prescribing that our people refrain from taking to the streets, but stand ready, was distributed by cyclists to the Party’s district committees, with the request that it be passed on to all military units and armed workers’ detachments – those embryos of the Red Guard.
Meanwhile, representatives from the working-class districts kept coming to Kshesinskaya’s house, in order to maintain communication. They told us what was happening in their streets and factories, shared with us their impressions of the feeling among the workers and soldiers, and asked us for advice and instructions. Representatives from regiments also came to see us, though in fewer numbers. One of them told us that machine-guns had been set up in the windows of a large house on the opposite bank of the Neva, and trained on Kshesinskaya’s house. Other comrades said they had seen a column of armoured cars, in line ahead, advancing in our direction. News came in of the approach of Cossack patrols. It was time to warn all the comrades to be on the alert and get everything on to a war footing.
In view of these signs of danger, Comrade Yeremeyev and my brother llyin-Zhenevsky went off to have a talk with the commander of Petrograd Military District, General Polovtsev.  Comrade Roshal soon returned from his agitational visit to the Grenadiers and the troops in the Peter-and-Paul Fortress. He was in cheerful mood, and told us, with animation, that the soldiers were all absolutely on our side, we could be confident of their support, and in the Fortress there were even some officers who sympathised with the Bolsheviks.
About this time I happened to see an issue of the anti-Semitic gutter rag Zhivoye Slovo (‘The Living Word’), which specialised in hounding those comrades who had Party pseudonyms. When I opened this hooligan paper I read a disgusting accusation against Comrade Lenin, signed by Alexinsky and Pankratov. This crudely fabricated falsehood made me realise that what was hidden in it was a diabolical plan to blacken our Party morally and kill it politically. But at that time nobody supposed that, on the basis of these counterfeit documents, the liberal barristers Kerensky and Pereverzev, in co-operation with the inquisitors of the Tsarist judiciary, would bring against our Party a stupid and vile charge that would nevertheless ultimately open the eyes of the masses and hasten the coming of the October Revolution.
That afternoon I was visited in the room in Kshesinskaya’ house where I worked, along with other comrades, by a sailor named Vanyushin whom I had met at Helsingfors, and who was a member of Tsentrobalt. He said he was going to Helsingfors that day and asked if l had any messages. I questioned him about the state of feeling at Helsingfors, and after consulting with my comrades, wrote a letter to Tsentrobalt in which I asked them to send to the mouth of the Neva some small naval vessel such as a minelayer or a gunboat. I considered – not without reason, I suppose – that it would be sufficient for one good ship to be brought into the mouth of the Neva and the resolution of the Provisional Government would markedly decline. It would of course be insignificant from the military standpoint, but what was involved here was a psychological game.
Comrade Vanyushin promised to deliver my letter immediately. As a result, having begun work in the capacity of commandant of Kshesinskaya’s house, I was in fact, transformed into an illegal commander of armed forces. Subsequently, in the interrogations that were carried out, the Tsarist inquisitors, men like Mr Alexandrov who had entered the service of Pereverzev and Zarudny, adduced against me these written orders calling for guns and summoning ships, and saw in them sufficient evidence for describing the events of July 3-5 as an armed uprising. It was easy for me to reply to these tricks that, if we had really been engaged in an armed uprising, we possessed enough common sense and knowledge of the tactics of street fighting not to march in orderly columns but to scatter and get into single file. And in that case, too, we should not have liberated ministers but should on the contrary, have arrested them. Of course, I had made military preparations, but only for defence,  because there was a smell in the air not only of powder but of pogroms. However, these precautionary measures had not had to be put into practice in actual conflict. When he came back from seeing General Polovtsev, Comrade Yeremeyev told us that the General, who had at once received him and Zhenevsky, had firmly assured them that there were no plans afoot for crushing our Party. And, in fact, General Polovtsev did not attack us on July 5. He preferred to put off his attack until the next day, so that by waiting for fresh reinforcements from the front, which now kept on arriving, he would be able to strike a ‘smashing’ blow at our Party. But nobody was deceived by the General’s lying assurances: he was not believed at all.
When Comrade Yeremeyev returned we received a new directive from the Central Committee stating that the demonstration was now over and calling on all participants to bring it to an end. The tense atmosphere was relaxed somewhat.
Comrade Podvoisky asked Roshal and me to go and see the Kronstadters. We took our places in the motor-car which the Party had recently acquired and set off, laden with tinned goods and bread. We were accompanied by a third Kronstadter, the Anarchist Yarchuk, who happened to be at Kshesinskaya’s house at this time.
We went first to the Naval College and then to Deryabinsk Barracks, in Galernaya Gavan. When our car appeared at the gates, the Kronstadters came running towards us from all directions. The vehicle was transformed into a tribune, from which we gave brief accounts of the political situation and the decision adopted by our Party. The comrades’ morale was excellent. They were ready to begin an armed struggle for Soviet power, but the Bolshevik Party’s authority obliged them to agree to our proposals. It was decided almost unanimously to return to Kronstadt. The greatest difficulties we had to overcome were experienced at Kshesinskaya’s house where, when we had finished our tour, we held a meeting of the Kronstadters. Only sailors were present. Placed as they were at the centre of military preparations and aroused by this atmosphere of a besieged camp, they naturally thirsted for battle, and their revolutionary impatience prompted in them the idea, senseless in the given circumstances, of an immediate seizure of power.
Consequently, at Kshesinskaya’s house we had to face not only the usual and quite natural questions but even outright criticism of our position, and sharply-expressed objections. Our opponents could not understand how they could possibly go back to Kronstadt without having established Soviet power in Petrograd. The Anarchists and non-party men were especially opposed to our line. However, the comrades who belonged to our Party were on our side from the outset, and the Anarchists were given a good ticking-off by Yarchuk, who agreed with us that any decisive action aimed at seizing power would be fruitless and doomed to defeat. While this stormy meeting was in progress and we were arguing hotly with the advocates of excessive Leftism, who took up a position ‘to the left of common sense’, a delegation arrived from the Kronstadt Executive Committee. They told us that when they received my message of that morning, asking for artillery to be sent, the comrades, after making all arrangements for embarking the guns, decided to check precisely what calibre guns were required and in what numbers. The Executive Committee was also interested to know what we intended to do with them, whether we needed any armed men. They had formed a special commission, consisting of Remnev, Alnichenkov and some other comrades, to obtain precise answers to these questions and general information about the events in Petrograd. Having found us engaged in our meeting in Kshesinskaya’s house they asked to speak, and what they said made our task easier, since, before they arrived, Roshal and I had had in the main, to bear the whole burden. As a result, when it came to the vote, the overwhelming majority of the comrades accepted the CC’s directive.
Besides their task of gathering information, our visitors had brought with them a peremptory demand by the Kronstadt Executive Committee for the immediate release of all the Kronstadters who had been arrested in the previous two days. Roshal and I went with the delegation to the Neva embankment, where lay the small launch that had brought the comrades from Kronstadt, and in it we went up the river once more to the Taurida Palace. Tying up beside a barge laden with firewood, we made our way awkwardly over some narrow and shaky gangplanks and at last stepped on to the deserted embankment, from which, through back streets, we came out into Shpalernaya Street, almost opposite the Palace. At the office of the Soviet we learnt that a meeting of the Military Commission was in progress, and from this meeting the Menshevik Bogdanov came out to see us.
I had met him before, in the epoch of Zvezda and Pravda when, on Workers’ Press Day, April 22, 1914, he had spoken as a ‘liquidator’ in opposition to me at the workers’ club called ‘Science and Life’.
Despite our mutual antipathy he met us with a strange, patronising smile. We asked for our arrested comrades to be released. He promised that this would be done, and at once raised, as counter-demand, the question of disarming those Kronstadters who were still at liberty.
Indignantly, we replied that there could be no question of this. With a sham sympathetic air Bogdanov then tried to persuade us to give up our arms because, if the Kronstadters set out for home carrying their rifles, the Petrograd Soviet would not be able to take responsibility for the security of their march to the landing-stage. He hinted at the tremendous hatred felt towards the Kronstadters by certain units of the garrison. Evidently, he meant the counter-revolutionary regiments which had just arrived from the front. As a compromise, Bogdanov proposed that the arms be surrendered in the presence of representatives of the Petrograd Soviet, after a guarantee had been given that, when the Kronstadters had embarked, all these arms would be returned to them.
But this proposal, which included the humiliating procedure of surrendering our rifles, also seemed to us unacceptable. We were able to agree only that the Kronstadters would march through the city to the landing-stage unarmed, their weapons being loaded on carts which would precede them. Bogdanov promised to give us an answer, and went into the next room, where the meeting of his famous ‘Military Commission’ was going on. After a few minutes he came out and said that our conditions had been accepted.
It seemed that the problem had been solved and agreement achieved. Not so, however. We had hardly begun to talk with Comrades Kamenev and Trotsky, who had entered the room, when we were told that the Kronstadters were required to attend before the ‘Military Commission’. We went into the room where the meeting was in progress. There we saw a big U-shaped table, covered with government cloth, at which sat the commission’s chairman, the Menshevik Lieber, together with its members, Voytinsky, Bogdanov, Sukhanov and also some young persons in officers’ uniforms whose names I did not know. Lieber, scarcely hiding his anger, addressed us in official style, demanding the disarmament of the Kronstadters. We referred to the agreement we had reached with Bogdanov, which did not provide for disarmament. But Lieber, paying no attention to what we had said, repeated his demand in still more categorical form. His dark eyes were bloodshot with unconcealed fury. We coolly replied that we had no authority from our comrades to discuss the question of their disarmament, and must first seek the views of those concerned.
Lieber then, all contorted with convulsive hatred of the Bolsheviks, declared that the ‘Military Commission’ was presenting us with an ultimatum: we must notify the commission of our decision by I0 a.m. next day. Without replying, we went into the next room and began discussing the situation thus created with Comrades Kamenev and Trotsky. But we had hardly begun to tell them about our misadventures with the inquisitorial ‘Military Commission’ when we were asked to go back in again, and Lieber now solemnly announced that the time-limit of the ultimatum had been shortened: the ‘Military Commission’ would expect our answer within two hours. We protested angrily, pointing out that this sudden alteration in the time allowed was an insult, and put us in a position where it was physically impossible to obtain the views of the Kronstadters, who were quartered in several different parts of the city.
Hardly had we shut the door behind us when we were called back a third time.
That same Lieber, abandoning his prosecutor’s tone for that of an executioner about to hang his victim, curtly informed us that the time-limit of the ultimatum had been cancelled altogether, and we must give our answer at once. We then repeated our protest, indignantly rejected the ultimatum, and left.
This entire proceeding, carried out amid the mystery and clandestinity of a secret meeting, in the stifling atmosphere of a court from which there was no appeal, and saturated with mortal hatred and mockery of political foes, reminded me of some mediaeval tribunal of the Fathers of the Inquisition. The rapidly-changed decisions suggested sentences arrived at under the pressure of some behind-the-scenes manoeuvres. The time-limit of the ultimatum was evidently reduced in direct proportion to the increase in the number of counter-revolutionary troops coming in from the front. The Menshevik-SR Areopagus was probably connected by an efficient telephone cable with the Provisional Government’s military headquarters. While we were watching, Voytinsky spoke on the telephone to a unit which had just arrived.
It was interesting to see how the Novaya-Zhiznite Sukhanov sat there, quite dumb, with the depressed air of a silent suffering righteous man, and managed not to utter a single word while we were present. 
Leaving the meeting of the ‘Military Commission’, we resumed our conversation with Kamenev and Trotsky, the latter advised us immediately and discreetly to send the Kronstadters home. It was decided to despatch comrades round barracks to warn the Kronstadters of the forcible disarmament that was being prepared. Fortunately, however, most of Kronstadters had already managed to get safely away – some of them even during the night of July 4, but principally during July 5, after we had visited the barracks and announced the demonstration was over. The only ones left were those stationed in Kshesinskaya’s house and in the Peter-and-Paul fortress in order to protect the Party’s premises. Kamenev and Trotsky went home. Roshal and I made our way to the room where passes were issued, in order to obtain permission to go about the city.
At first we were refused passes, on the pretext that it was impossible to guarantee our safety, but later, after categorical insistence on our part, the passes were issued after all. Here, in the passes office, we saw Sukhanov again. He was leaning against a tall, tiled stove, in an attitude of gloomy meditation, his face expressing all the burden of tormenting uncertainty.
Knowing the in-between position he had taken up in the final days of the revolution, I nevertheless respected him for his undoubted intellect and for the outstanding role he had played during the war. He was one of the few legal journalists who had proved able, in 1914-1916, to find a channel between the reefs of the censorship and publish powerful, meaty articles against the war. On that basis I had made friends with Sukhanov already at the beginning of 1916, and was eager to meet him in the brief intervals that my naval service allowed.
Now, however, as though burying his past, Sukhanov was acting to the detriment of the revolution. With the obstinacy and perseverance of a Penelope he was unpicking everything he had spun during the war. He there and then peevishly uttered some venomous intellectual-type reproaches concerning the demonstration, and warned us that when we went out into the streets we might be arrested. Maria Spiridonova had given the same warning to Roshal not long before, and sailor comrades told us that Cossacks had been intensively searching for Roshal and me all day, along the Nevsky Prospekt.
Sukhanov shook his head sorrowfully, as though distressed by our sins. Semyon asked Sukhanov to look after his revolver in case he was actually arrested. After some hesitation Sukhanov agreed.
To our surprise, when Roshal and I went out into the street nobody troubled us. We decided that they must have postponed our arrest. After walking a little way together, we separated. Semyon went home, while I made my way to my mother’s flat on the Vyborg Side. However, as I approached the Liteiny Bridge I realised that it had been raised. Since I was not sure about the Troitsky Bridge, I decided to spend the night at L.B. Kamenev’s, at No.9 Rozhdestvenskaya Street, in the Peski quarter.
Liteiny Prospekt was deserted, like a street in a dead town. There was not a soul about. Even the militiamen had gone to ground somewhere. My footsteps gave forth a dull echo from the flagstones of the pavement. Between Panteleimonskaya and Basseinaya Streets, opposite the long building of the artillery barracks, stood a patrol checking documents.
Just ahead of me somebody had been stopped. Assuming an independent air, I walked on by as though nothing was happening. The officer looked at me intently but did not ask for papers. I had been saved by my naval officer’s cap and black uniform cloak.
Arriving safely at Kamenev’s flat, I rang the bell. Everyone was already asleep. The door was opened to me by Ensi Blagonravov. I lay down at once on the first sofa I came to, and in a few minutes, was fast asleep.
4. Return to Kronstadt
When dawn broke we asked Ensign Blagonravov to go out and buy newspapers and to have a look at what was happening in the streets.
He reported that at every crossroads all you could hear was curses on the Bolsheviks. In short it was dangerous to show oneself openly in the street as a member of our Party. Our demonstration had suffered a fiasco, and now even the petty bourgeoisie of Peski, not lagging behind the big bourgeoisie the Nevsky Prospekt, had come out on the streets after their three days of forced seclusion and were desperately denouncing the Bolsheviks in every possible way. O.D. Kamenev, who worked in the secretariat of the Petrograd Soviet, came home soon after this and described the anti-Bolshevik reaction that was beginning.
None of us felt cheerful. While foreseeing that the repressive measures would eventually only serve to benefit our Party, we at the same time did not conceal from ourselves the fact that in the period immediately ahead the Party would have to pass through a phase of savage persecution. This was shown not only in the furious anger of the philistine masses, who were ready to tear any Bolshevik to pieces, but also in the mood of the Mensheviks and SRs, who were up the wall with indignation at our ‘unauthorised demonstration’. Our action was defined by them as a ‘split in the ranks of democracy’, although only a blind man could fail to see that the famous ‘united democracy’, coming apart at every seam, was nothing but a myth of the social-compromisers. Actually, irreconcilable differences had always set a firm barricade between us and the other parties. Much hatred for us had boiled up in the hearts of the social patriots in the stormy months between February and July. They needed only a pretext to sentence our Party to political death. The July demonstration gave them that longed-for pretext.
As I left, I advised Comrade Kamenev to move to another flat. “But do you have anything more suitable?” he asked. I answered that I knew well a young fellow living nearby who would be glad to offer him shelter, but unfortunately the father of the family hated Bolsheviks.
“There’s a safe flat for you!” Lev Borisovich laughed loudly tossing his head in the relaxed way that was typical of him. Eventually he decided not to move, since there was nowhere one could hide from a casual band of pogromists, and if government forces should come to carry out a search, they would not be able to do anything, because their ‘socialist’ master were accountable for them.
At that time we were all still filled with a certain amount of confidence in Kerensky’s cabinet and reckoned on the elementary ‘legal safeguards’ being observed. However, the next few days were to show us plainly that in the Provisional Government we had to do with a rancorous and vengeful counter revolutionary gang.
It was about 3p.m. when I said goodbye to Kamenev and, walking along Basseinaya Street, directed my steps towards the Vyborg Side. At the corner I bought the latest issue of Vechemey Vremya.
On the front page my eye was caught by a detailed, fantastic story of Comrade Lenin’s having left for Kronstadt under my personal protection. An idle correspondent, filling the whole first half of this bourgeois gutter rag with his sheer inventions, had excelled himself in describing the minutest details, counting on his readers’ innocence and giving his entire story an outward appearance of complete verisimilitude. In the whole history of Russian journalism one cannot find a blacker phase of unbridled mendacity than this period following the July days, when all the bourgeois press and the compromiser press attached to it began a rabid campaign to hound the Bolsheviks, conducted by the practised hands of Alexinsky and Pankratov, Burtsev and Pereverzev, who cast an unheard-of slander upon Comrade Lenin.
No traces of our demonstration were to be seen in Basseinaya Street or Nevsky Prospekt. After the shooting of the two previous days, which had scattered the philistine mob, like crows, to their houses, the streets had recovered from their emptiness and again assumed their peacetime character. Having learnt from their cooks that peace had returned, the bourgeois emerged from their gloomy houses into the streets, which were warmed by the rays of the soft summer sun. To them it felt like the day after a storm, and as a sign that the social flood from which they had just been delivered would not come again the Provisional Government was showing them the multicoloured rainbow of loyal units brought in from the front, together with disarmament of the Bolshevik regiments, and the beginning of repressive measures.
When I got to the Vyborg Side and was turning from Nizhegorodskaya Street into Simbirskaya Street, I had the opportunity to see one of the regiments which had come to subdue Petrograd. It stretched in a long ribbon along Simbirskaya Street, with its baggage-train extending as far back as the Liteiny Bridge. The horses drawing the transports had their forelocks interwoven with some adornments, according to the soldiers’ custom. It was strange to see these dusty, tired, bearded front-line soldiers, not on a bumpy country road but on the stone highway of the workers’ capital. As often happens when a military unit is moving through the streets of a big town, the regiment suddenly came to a halt. Perhaps some obstacle was holding up their advance, or perhaps the front ranks had already passed through the gates of the barracks. With weary gestures the soldiers wiped the sweat from their heated brows. I looked closely at their faces. They expressed extreme physical exhaustion and an indifference close to insensitivity. The Provisional Government had evidently summoned them from a long way off and brought them in very urgently to deal with the Bolshevik sedition. They were typical rank-and-file soldiers. There was nothing specifically counter-revolutionary, nothing of the reckless Cossack style, in their appearance. It was not without reason that the majority of these units soon came over to our side and took part in the October Revolution, having completely merged with the garrison of Petrograd.
In the sight of the soldiers, none of whom, of course, could know who I was, I turned into the yard of the house where I always stayed, in my mother’s flat, when I came in from Kronstadt. On this occasion I found at home Semyon Roshal, L.N. Alexandri and my brother A.F. Ilyin-Zhenevsky. I had met Comrade Alexandri already before the revolution, when he used to go abroad on Party business and bring back the latest issues of Sotsial-Demokrat concealed in the soles of his boots. Since during the war Party literature reached Petrograd only with the greatest difficulty, all the comrades were particularly glad of Alexandri’s precious contraband.
Zhenevsky told me what had happened at the Peter-and-Paul Fortress, from which he had just come: the bloodless occupation of the fortress and of Kshesinskaya’s house by troops of the Provisional Government and the disarmament of those Kronstadters who had not been able to get away and were still in the fortress. A difficult role had fallen here to the lot of Comrade Stalin,  who had, in fact, to function not only as a political leader but also as a diplomat. The Menshevik Bogdanov had taken part in the negotiations on behalf of the Provisional Government.
We now faced the question of our future work. I decided to return to Kronstadt, and advised Roshal to go underground, in view of the particularly ferocious hounding of him by the bourgeois press. The philistine public, in its maddened state of those days, might easily recognise Semyon and lynch him. Semyon was there and then transformed, and in place of his usual provocative cap he was given a more respectable hat. A decent overcoat was produced from somewhere. With his outward appearance changed so far as possible, and his unruly black locks smoothed down, Roshal went out along with Alexandri, who undertook to fix him up ‘illegally’ somewhere in Novaya Derevnya.
I spent the night in Petrograd, and next morning, July 7, left for Kronstadt from the Baltic railway station. I deliberately chose this roundabout route, instead of proceeding direct, by boat, so as to evade any checking of documents and possible detention, because the arresting of Bolsheviks was already in full swing. My calculation proved correct, and I managed to get to Kronstadt without difficulty. At Oranienbaum, where one transfers from train to boat, there was actually no cordon at all. Only at the Kronstadt landing-stage was the usual checking of identity papers effected, intended to prevent spies getting in, but nobody dared to touch me there.
Everyone was present at the Party committee-rooms and the editorial office of Golos Pravdy. A certain sinking of the heart was noticeable among the comrades, who had been discouraged by the destruction of our organisation in Petrograd. The intellectuals among the leaders suffered the biggest depression: the workers were steadier and seemed calmer. “Ah, what a pity we returned without Soviet power” – that was how one Kronstadt worker formulated the general mood.
At the press where our newspaper was printed on flat, oily machines, I noticed the absence of Comrade Petrov, the tall, thin typesetter, wearing pince-nez, who usually came to me at the editorial office to collect copy. “But where’s Comrade Petrov?” I asked. “He’s still transferring power into the hands of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies,” the typesetters replied, grinning. It turned out that he had gone with the others to Petrograd and had been arrested there.
On the spot, at the press, I sat down to write, in all haste, a cheerful article about the demonstration, explaining its political significance. I handed it over for printing, corrected the galleys and read the corrected proofs. I looked over the material for the next issue and handed it straightaway to the printers. In those days, when Pravda had not yet recovered from the vile onslaught by the Cadets, and political conditions in Petrograd prevented a resuscitation of our Party organ, the Bolsheviks of Kronstadt went on calmly bringing out their paper and freely writing in it whatever they liked. Our island situation preserved single-minded Red Kronstadt from attack.
Naturally, the Petrograd comrades, grouped at that time around the Vyborg-side district committee, hastened to make use of the tribune we provided. Articles began to arrive from Petrograd at our free press, which we printed forthwith, without checking. And next day most of the copies which had been printed during the night were on their way by boat to Petrograd. Only a small number were kept back for the needs of Kronstadt itself. Within a few days Golos Pravdy, as the only Bolshevik organ, was circulating widely in the working-class districts of Petrograd.
Late in the evening a meeting of the Executive Committee was held in the building of the former Naval Officers’ Club, which now housed the Kronstadt Soviet. Lamanov, the chairman of the Executive Committee, read a telegram signed by Kerensky which had just been received: it called for the handing over of the ‘ringleaders’ of the demonstration and fresh elections to Tsentrobalt.  Here is the text of this telegram:
“From the beginning of the revolution there have been persons in Kronstadt and on some ships of the Baltic Fleet who, influenced by German agents and provocateurs, have called for actions threatening the revolution and the security of our country. At a time when our valiant army, sacrificing itself heroically, was entering into bloody combat with the enemy, at a time when the navy, loyal to democracy, was tirelessly and selflessly fulfilling the heavy task of combat imposed upon it, Kronstadt and certain ships, headed by Respublika and Petropavlosk, stabbed their comrades in the back by their actions by adopting resolutions against the offensive, by calling for disobedience to the revolutionary authority embodied in the Provisional Government established by democracy, and by attempting to exert pressure on the will of the organs elected by democracy, in the form of the All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.
During our army’s offensive itself, disturbances started in Petrograd which threatened the revolution and exposed our army to the blows of the enemy. When ships of the fleet were summoned at the demand of the Provisional Government in agreement with the Executive Committees of the Soviet of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, in order to bring quick and decisive influence to bear on the Kronstadters who were participating in these treasonable disturbances in Petrograd, the enemies of the people and of the revolution, acting through the Central Committee of the Baltic Fleet, brought sedition into the ranks of the ships’ companies by falsely interpreting these measures. These traitors prevented the dispatch of ships loyal to the revolution to Petrograd and the adoption of measures for ending the disturbances organised by the enemy, and incited ships’ companies to arbitrary actions- the replacement of Commissar-General Onipko, the decision to arrest the assistant to the Minister of the Navy, Captain Dudorov, and the presenting of a series of demands to the Executive Committee of the All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.
The treasonable and traitorous activity of a number of persons has compelled the Provisional Government to issue orders for the immediate arrest of their leaders. Among these, the Provisional Government has decided to arrest the delegation from the Baltic Fleet which has arrived in Petrograd.
In view of the above, I order:
(1) That the Central Committee of the Baltic Fleet be immediately dissolved and new elections held.
(2) That it be announced to all ships and crews of the Baltic Fleet that call upon them to exclude at once from their midst all suspicious persons calling for insubordination to the Provisional Government and agitating against the offensive, and to bring them to Petrograd for investigation and trial.
(3) That the ships’ companies at Kronstadt and on the battleships Petropavlovsk, Respublika and Slava, whose names have been besmirched by counter-revolutionary acts and resolutions, arrest the ringleaders within 24 hours and send them to Petrograd for investigation and trial, and also give assurances of full subordination to the Provisional Government.
I announce to the companies of Kronstadt and these ships that if my present order is not carried out, they will be traitors to their country and to the revolution, and the most resolute measures will be taken against them. Comrades, our country is on the brink of ruin as a result of treachery and treason. The country’s freedom and the conquests of the revolution are threatened with mortal danger. The German army has already begun an offensive on our front. At any moment we may expect decisive actions by the enemy’s fleet, which is capable of taking advantage of our temporary disarray. Resolute and firm measures are required for eradicating this disarray. The army has taken such measures, and the navy must keep in step with it.
In the name of our country, the revolution and freedom, in the name of the welfare of the working masses, I call on you to rally round the provisional government and the all-Russia organs of democracy and to repel the heavy blows of the external enemy, while protecting the rear from the treacherous blows of traitors.”
A. Kerensky, Minister for Military and Naval Affairs
The telegram was dated July 7.
This hysterically dictatorial order produced at Kronstadt the opposite impression to what was intended. Counting on a deterrent effect, it actually evoked enormous indignation. There could, of course, be no question of arrests or deportations. When discussion began I asked to speak, and launched an angry attack on the Provisional Government:
“This 24-hour ultimatum is the height of counterrevolutionary cynicism and a glaring symptom of the reaction that is now beginning. Relying on the outward submission of Petrograd, the Provisional Government has decided to exploit the favourable moment for a serious struggle against the revolutionary sentiments of Kronstadt and the Baltic Fleet. After Petrograd it wants to crush all the other bases of the revolution. The sharp, vehement tone of the telegram perfectly recalls the insolent orders that used to be issued by the ‘pacifiers’ of Tsarist times. Just as under Tsardom, when there were movements among the workers, they look for ‘ringleaders’ among the masses. They have the cheek to demand of the Red Kronstadters that they arrest the ‘troublemakers’ and ‘firebrands’, bind them hand and foot, and hand them over to the authorities. But that won’t happen. Throughout the entire history of the labour movement in Russia workers on strike have always boldly replied to such demands for their ‘ringleaders’ to be handed over: there are no ‘ringleaders’ among us, we are all ringleaders of this strike. We in the revolutionary movement must follow the example of our predecessors and give the same reply.”
As regards the re-election of Tsentrobalt, I proposed that we re-elect our old delegates.
Is it necessary to say that all Kerensky’s proposals met with a categorical refusal? The supporters of all shades of opinion and all tendencies were unanimous. But then, in our Kronstadt Executive Committee there was nobody to be found who was to the Right of the Left-SRs and the Menshevik-Internationalists.
In those days, on July 8 or 9, a general meeting of the Party organisation in Kronstadt was held in the garden of the Party committee’s premises. All who had led the demonstration were greeted with particularly heartfelt warmth. Reports on the events of July 3-5 were given by Comrade Flerovsky and me. All the comrades expressed great indignation at the shameless behaviour of the celebrated Military Commission presided over by Lieber, which had repeatedly reopened dealings on fresh and much worse conditions for us as soon as agreement seemed to have been reached...
The morale of the mass of the membership was completely satisfactory. The all-Kronstadt meeting encouraged them still further. When it ended, people were smiling and joking. It was clear that the comrades had not fallen into despair and had not lost faith in our Party’s future. Party and Soviet work in Kronstadt was going ahead normally, as before, just as on the eve of the demonstration. Peaceful life had been fully resumed. But no meetings were called. The leaders of the Kronstadt Party Committee realised that the masses must be allowed a few days to rest, and they must be given the chance calmly to sort out the many and various impressions which the demonstration had left with everyone who took part in it. Our committee fixed the first broad meeting for July 13, when I was to give a lecture in the Naval Drill-Hall on the demonstration that had taken place, its political meaning and importance.
However, owing to circumstances outside my control, I did not manage to give that lecture.
During the night of July 13, when I was already asleep on my ship, Osvoboditel, Comrade Pokrovsky, a Left-SR member of the Kronstadt Executive Committee, summoned me urgently to the Soviet. When I arrived, he showed me a telegram which had just come in. It was addressed to the Commandant of Kronstadt Fortress and required him immediately to arrest Roshal, Remnev and me and send us to Petrograd. The telegram added that, if this order was not obeyed “Kronstadt would be blockaded and would receive neither bread nor money.
Pokrovsky, who had evidently lost his head, excitedly asked my advice. I replied that in my opinion all the Kronstadters subject to arrest should go voluntarily to Petrograd for examination and trial. This was how I justified my decision: the Provisional Government, which was persecuting the Bolsheviks with unbridled ferocity, would probably not hesitate to blockade Kronstadt. Remaining here would mean exposing the local proletariat and garrison to the risk of starvation and the political demoralisation that must inevitably ensue. That solution to the problem was unacceptable to me.
True, it would not be difficult to organise a flight to Finland. But we were the object not only of political accusations – the entire press and so-called ‘public opinion’ were openly making monstrous insinuations about our having collaborated with the Germans, acting as their agents. It was precisely that accusation which prompted me to present myself voluntarily before the court, as a measure of self-defence, the only way to restore my good name.
I realised, of course, that a Party leader like Comrade Lenin had to stay out of prison by all possible means, since if he had been arrested at that time his very life would undoubtedly have been in grave danger from the counter-revolutionary camarilla. The Party had waited too long for Lenin, and wandered long enough in darkness for lack of his clear, firm tactics, to let itself be deprived of his leadership, even for a single day, especially in a period of such difficulty for the revolution. But the rest of us, it seemed to me, ought to appear before the court of the Provisional Government, in order publicly to clear our Party’s name and our own and try to transform our trial into a major political demonstration against the bourgeois regime and expose the disgusting methods it was using in its struggle against the Party and the working class. At that time we still retained some confidence – not a lot, to be sure – in the Mensheviks and Right-SRs, still cherished illusions about them possessing at least a minimum of political decency.
Comrade Pokrovsky, who had at first been embarrassed and upset, cheered up to a marked degree at this convenient solution to the problem. I was interested to know how this secret order for our arrest, instead of going to the authority to which was addressed and being put into execution, had come into our hands. It was explained to me that the telegram had indeed been received by the Commandant of the Fortress, but he, not knowing what to do about it, had passed it to the Kronstadt Soviet.
We decided to convene a plenary meeting of the Soviet the next day. Comrade Remnev seemed depressed and uttered not a single word throughout the entire conversation. He had previously been a Second Lieutenant in the infantry, serving the Ladozhsky Regiment. He had sided with the Bolsheviks at the front and had a big clash with his superiors: he then came to Kronstadt to report on the situation in his unit, as many came to us in those days, looking to Kronstadt as the central focus the revolution.
As I have already mentioned, people were constantly coming to us for help and advice, from the Donets Basin, from the various fronts – indeed, from all corners of boundless Russia Kronstadt could, of course, give no more than moral support. In most cases the relationship established was confined to the exchanging of information. The delegates explained at meetings the situation in their own area and acquainted themselves with the progress of our work at Kronstadt and the views of the activists there. This stream of visitors never ceased to flow: there was nearly always some visiting delegation enjoying our hospitality. Remnev also began by making a report at a meeting in Anchor Square. But he found Kronstadt so much to his liking that he resolved to stay with us and take up permanent work. He succeeded in entering the Engineering School, where he found temporary refuge from the persecutions of the Provisional Government.
After the October Revolution and subsequently, in the early ‘guerrilla’ period of the civil war, he commanded the Second Army, operating in the Ukraine. During one of his visits to Moscow, in April or May 1918, he was arrested on a charge of banditry.
Remnev was an ardent and likeable man, but showed marked features of adventurism and of fear for his personal safety. To me he always seemed unbalanced, with shattered nerves. As a Party member he lacked any theoretical preparation, but until the October Revolution he, as the only Bolshevik officer, enjoyed a certain popularity in the Engineering School.
After our talk with Pokrovsky, Remnev and I went that same night to the Engineering School, to warn the comrades of the impending arrest. The students at the Engineering School were good revolutionary sailors.
They were asleep, and we had to sound ‘Reveille’ to get them out of bed. They leapt up and crowded into a close ring around us. Getting up on a bench, I told the comrades about the telegram which had been received and explained our decision. From their faces and some cries of disagreement it was clear that many of them did not share my view that it was necessary for us both (Remnev and me) to go and offer ourselves for arrest in Petrograd. I had to bring to bear a whole arsenal of arguments, and only then did our opponents, who at first would not hear of our departure, reluctantly abandon their objections to it.
On the morning of July 13 we first of all held a fraction meeting. I began by insisting on going to Petrograd: some comrades objected, but eventually our proposal was approved. Remnev was basically against our surrendering. True, he did not speak out openly against the idea, but he was definitely inclined towards making a run for it. At any rate even after the fraction had taken its decision he still tried to persuade me to flee to Finland: “There’s a launch with a crew of seven already under steam: let’s escape, for they’ll kill us in Petrograd,” he repeated, shaking his head gloomily.
The meeting of the Soviet began soon after this. Pokrovsky outlined the situation created by the receipt of the ultimatum. I then set forth once more my arguments for agreeing to be arrested. A debate began. Opinions were divided. Some spoke in favour of my proposal, others against it. Among other things I remember one curious feature of this debate. Whereas at previous meetings of the Soviet the talking had mainly been done by one and the same group of comrades, well-known speakers, on this occasion there came to the tribune, one after another, fresh, unfamiliar individuals, who attacked our Party, criticised its policy indiscriminately, and condemned the demonstration. Previously these men had sat quiet, never uttering a word, unable to go ‘against the current’, but now all of a sudden they plucked up courage and, sensing our Party’s momentary weakness, advanced in close column to the attack. After five and a half months of the existence of the Kronstadt Soviet, newly-revealed friends of the Provisional Government had for the first time appeared among us from somewhere or other. These last hours before imprisonment I had to spend in polemic with furious enemies of the Bolsheviks. However, these suspect speakers had no success. They constituted only a few voices, without any mass backing. When the debate was over the Kronstadt Soviet let us go off to prison, but declared, for the benefit of the Provisional Government and the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, that it was in complete solidarity with us and shared responsibility for all we had done. At the same time the Kronstadt Soviet demanded our release, and for this purpose sent a special delegation to Petrograd, headed by Comrade Deshevoy.
P.N. Lamanov, the commander of the naval forces of the Kronstadt base, who had been elected to this position and was very friendly with the Bolsheviks, had a special launch made ready for us. Aboard it went the ‘commission for release’, Remnev and I, and the fortress commandant, who had to go to Petrograd on business of his own. Its engine chattering loudly, the launch moved lightly away from the landing-stage. P.N. Lamanov, who came to see us off, wished us success and a speedy return, and, standing on the landing-stage, remained for a long time waving to us as we departed. And yet he was the supreme naval representative of the Provisional Government! What queer times those were!
On the way from Kronstadt to Petrograd the commandant of the fortress, a short, grey-haired general, a typical old warrior who couldn’t stand any sort of politics, complained bitterly about his own desperate situation. “It’s all very well for them to write orders for arrests to be made, but what can I do? On what forces can I rely to carry out arrests, when all Kronstadt supports the Bolsheviks?”
The old man was profoundly correct. And he would not have extricated himself from his absurd situation if we ourselves had not come to his aid. The fact was that, even at the climax of its apparent strength, when it was proclaiming its imaginary victories in high-flown, hysterical orders for the arrest of Bolsheviks, the Provisional Government was actually a colossus with feet of clay.
Before night fell our small but elegant Kronstadt launch arrived at one of the steamship jetties of Admiralty Embankment. The commandant of Kronstadt Fortress; after politely shaking hands with his travelling companions who were due to be arrested, set off on his own business, while we proceeded to the entrance of the Admiralty and sought out Dudorov’s office. Though not yet under surveillance and constraint we already felt in our hearts that we were prisoners.
Remnev and I were accompanied by our friends, Comrade Deshevoy and the sailors who had been empowered by the Kronstadt Soviet to try and get us released. In a waiting room on the second floor we were approached by a short dark man with a clipped black moustache but no beard. This was the first assistant to the Minister of the Navy, Captain Dudorov. We informed him that we had come to put ourselves in the hands of the Provisional Government, which had issued an order for our arrest. We emphasised that, under the old regime, we should have considered it our duty to escape and hide ourselves, but now, after the February Revolution, making a certain distinction between Tsardom and the Provisional Government, we had decided to recognise the court, so as to be able publicly to prove our innocence of the vile charges being brought against us, which linked our ideological activity with the operations of German agents.
Dudorov listened attentively to our explanation and assumed an affectedly sympathetic air. Then he turned his attention to the comrades who had come with us. Comrade V.I. Deshevoy explained the purpose of the commission, which had come on the instructions of the Kronstadt Soviet. This did not surprise the worthy Captain. He, the one mainly responsible for the order for submarines to sink any battleships leaving Helsingfors to go to the aid of the workers of Petrograd, maintained on this occasion an unwaveringly mild, gently benevolent tone. He advised ‘the comrades’ to go to the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. This advice, which was superfluous, and in general Dudorov’s courteous manner, still further strengthened my first impression, namely that he was a powerful, large-toothed wolf in liberal sheep’s clothing.
Summoning a young naval officer and two armed sailors, Dudorov ordered them to escort Remnev and me to the headquarters of Petrograd Military District. An open motorcar was already waiting for us in the street. We sat on the back seat, the officer and one of the sailors, carrying a rifle, sat facing us on the folding seats, and the second armed sailor sat in front, beside the driver. I confess that I found it disagreeable to see sailors in the role of my first jailers. I had worked among them and counted so many friends among them. I looked into the faces of the escort, but they were morose and preoccupied. From their expressions one could not guess what they were like – concealed friends or unconscious foes? Our strange group evoked frank astonishment among all the passers-by, on foot, in vehicles, in this central part of the city. But we did not have to go. After only a few minutes the car stopped in Pa Square, near Millionnaya Street, at the well-known entrance of the headquarters of the Military District. We were asked to come up to the first floor. As is normal when prisoners are escorted, one sailor walked in front and the other behind. On every staircase landing and before every door a cadet with rifle and fixed bayonet stood on guard. A week earlier the same cadets had met every arrested Bolshevik with punches and pistol-whipping. After the first days of thrilling triumph however, their tempers had evidently cooled down. Nobody laid a finger on us. We only heard the whisper pass along: “They’ve brought the Bolsheviks.” We entered a large, dirty room. In this bureaucratic barn there were not even chairs, so we had to stand. The commander of our escort, a smooth-faced Sub-Lieutenant who had hardly come of age, went into the next room to report our arrival. Soon there emerged, one after another, staff officers carrying papers: they stared at us with unconcealed curiosity. At this moment a burly fellow, scarcely sober, and wearing a uniform that was half a chauffeur’s and half an airman’s, barged into the room through the outer doors. He had on a leather jacket and service-cap with an officer’s badge. Looking daggers at us he said loudly: “How is it they haven’t killed you yet? You should have been shot on the way here.” Then he began boasting in a loud voice about his exploits: “I’ve killed thirty-two Bolsheviks with my own hands.”
“There, you see, it was no good our coming here: they’ll kill us,” whispered Remnev, who had gone pale.
“They’re sending you to the Kresty Prison,” we were informed by the naval officer, who now re-entered the room.
The vagrant who had been boasting about the Bolsheviks he had killed turned at once to address the officer. “How dare you talk to persons under arrest? What right have you? Where they are to be sent is a secret. Do you know who’s talking to you? Do you know who I am?”
I learnt that his name was Balabinsky.
The young officer was embarrassed and failed to answer the rascal in the tone he deserved.
Finally, soldiers took over from the sailors, and it was under ‘army’ guard that we were led into the street. Here we were put into a large, tightly-closed prison van with little barred windows placed high up. We could not see where we were going but soon felt beneath the wheels the gently cambered surface the Liteiny Bridge. Then the van stopped, and when the door was opened we saw that we were already inside the Kresty prison.
Dusk had fallen. Electric lights were burning both out and inside the prison. At the desk the soldiers handed us in exchange for a receipt, to the superintendent of the prison.
“Why, you’re not terrifying, not terrifying at all! Judging what was in the papers, we expected you to be quite fervent...’ said the superintendent, a jolly man, when the escort had departed.
On the way to the cell I vigorously denounced the bourgeois yellow press which had striven to depict us as beasts in human shape, adding a few words about the extreme irresponsibility of the bourgeois press in general. The superintendent nodded his head sympathetically, and a warder, rattling his keys and with a peculiar smile on his face, flung open before me the heavy door of the cell.
6. The results of the July days
In the process of development of the events of the revolution, the demonstration of July 3-5 1917 undoubtedly occupies a place of great historical importance. It was the intermediate link between two other mass actions by the proletariat – the demonstration of April 20-21 and the great October Revolution– it followed logically from the demonstration of April 20-21 but surpassed it as a sharper, more distinct posing of questions, by drawing into the ranks of the demonstrators much broader masses of the working class.
On April 20-21, alongside the slogan ‘All power to Soviets,’ put forward by our Party, one still encountered demand for individual changes in the composition of the Government, expressed in placards saying ‘Down with Guchk and Milyukov’. These naive inscriptions still echoed petty-bourgeois illusions, not yet outgrown, inspired by naive faith, that by replacing one or two individuals the Provisional Government could be made acceptable to the workers and peasants.
By July 3-5 the deepening and sharpening of class contradictions had forced the abandonment of these harmful dreams, the renunciation of all hope in the Provisional Government. In the July demonstration the uniform content of placards varied only between these limits: ‘All power to Soviets’ and ‘Down with the capitalist ministers’. The latter demand, insisting on the removal from the Government of every single representative of the bourgeoisie, to be replaced socialists, representatives of the workers’ Soviets, was merely a different formulation of the former. The slogan of expelling ten capitalist ministers signified not mere replacement of individuals but complete going-over to a new system of government, to a Soviet Republic.
Despite the proved participation of the Anarchists, who senselessly strove to inflame passions, it was not they who initiated the demonstration: that was beyond the power of such an uninfluential group. The July events took place quite spontaneously, without stimulation from outside. The working-class and the peasantry in soldiers’ and sailors’ greatcoats sensed with their sound instinct that the Provisional Government was destroying the revolution, leading it to the abyss.
The criminal offensive of June 18, dictated by the vultures the international stock-exchange and signifying continuation the war for the old aims of imperialism, together with the treacherous policy of being pursued inside the country, opened the eyes of the masses better than any agitators could. And without waiting for any call, on July 3 they surged on to the streets on their own initiative.
How did the Bolshevik Party react to this? On July 2 and 3 it strove with all the influence it possessed to hold back the masses who followed it. In the afternoon of July 3 the Central Committee had printed an appeal to the people to refrain from action. But the electrification of the worker masses and the pressure they exercised were so great, and their collective will was so strikingly manifested in an independent action by some units and the sympathetic attitude of others which had not yet come out but were ready to do so at any moment, that in the evening of the July 4 the Party of the revolutionary proletariat, accurately reflecting the interests and feelings of the worker masses, decided to put itself at the head of the unavoidable movement and, by introducing consciousness into its spontaneity, to transform it into a peaceful and organised armed demonstration.
The class feeling, sound political sense and farsightedness of our Party, its close unity with the broad proletarian and semi-proletarian masses, saved it from the fatal and irreparable mistake which would have been committed if the Party had stood aside from the movement. Its appeals for calm would have gone unheard. The movement, which had risen organically and elementally from the soil of the counter-revolutionary flouting of the masses by the Government of Kerensky and Tsereteli, was unavoidable in any case, but if the Bolshevik Party had passively abstained, this movement would have rolled over the Party’s head, would have broken into a thousand petty, unconnected, uncoordinated and disunited actions, and would have been smashed piecemeal. There was no other Party with influence or an organisational apparatus capable at that time of assuming the leadership of such a crucial revolutionary action.
Our Party shouldered that heavy task, and performed it with honour. There were, of course, individual excesses, quite inevitable in any mass action, but these were quickly liquidated by the energetic intervention of Party members. On the whole, the Party managed to achieve all-round mastery of this spontaneous movement which had arisen independently of its will and to confine it within the channel of a demonstration.
One often heard the objection: if what was proposed was nothing more than a peaceful demonstration, why was it necessary to carry arms? Would it not have been better to leave the rifles at home?
A naive question! It was easy to foresee that an unarmed demonstration would have been dealt with ‘by armed force’. On July 4 the Provisional Government did not unleash against the demonstrators a Russian Cavaignac at the head of some Cossack regiment or cadet troop, that was to a considerable degree because the horny hands of the workers, sailors and soldiers firmly gripped the stocks of loaded rifles.
The Provisional Government feared an armed rebuff, it did not want to start civil war prematurely. Already in May, Tsereteli, when he came to conclude an agreement with the ‘independent’ republic of Kronstadt, which had been invented by the bourgeoisie’s frightened imagination, had said with the air of a martyr, clutching his head: “Will there really be civil war? Will it really be impossible to prevent that?” And nervously wrung his hands in unfeigned despair.
The need for arms, the only means of defence in the event of bloodletting, was also dictated by the circumstance that when announcing a demonstration, we retained the right at a moment to turn it into an armed uprising.
If the front and the provinces had warmly supported our slogans and carried out a similar review of their armed force, we should have been poor revolutionaries if we had not tried to force the pace of events and accomplished October already in July.
Why, then, did we decide at that time not to take the road of insurrection?
Because, despite our undoubted majority in Petrograd, we did not possess sufficient strength on the scale of Russia as a whole to be able not just to take power for a few days but to keep it for a long time. Finally, if we had taken power, we should have had to arrest not only the members of the Provisional Government but also the majority of the Central Executive Committee and the majority of the Petrograd Soviet. That would at once have weakened the Party which had carried out the insurrection, undermining its position and creating contradictory conditions, incomprehensible to the masses, when in the name of the struggle for Soviet power we found ourselves obliged to arrest the Soviets.
The Bolshevik Party acted correctly, refusing to be enticed by the laurels of an easy adventure which might, if it did not ruin the revolution altogether, at least have postponed for a long time the revolution’s October triumph.
The historic days of July 3-5, as they were utilised by the Party, had very great, positive results in their influence on the further development of events.
This first large-scale review of the forces of the proletariat, ready, to the terror of the bourgeoisie, to defend the revolution, arms in hand, was the beginning of the end for the Provisional Government and the inglorious destiny of the ‘defencist’ parties of the Mensheviks and SRs bound up with it.
The events of July 3-5 and the campaign of savage repression which followed them thoroughly exposed the counter-revolutionary and anti-democratic position of the bourgeois government of Kerensky. The Mensheviks and SRs, tangled in the nets of the coalition, discredited themselves finally and irreparably.
But our persecuted Party, surrounded by the aureole of martyrdom, emerged from these trials even better steeled than before, with its influence and the number of its supporters increased to an unprecedented degree. The July days and the sharpening of the class struggle which inevitably followed them provided much experience and taught the Russian working-class a great deal.
1. An important role in the 1st Machine-Gun Regiment was played by Lieutenant Semashko, the only Bolshevik officer. According to Ilyin Zhenevsky he enjoyed great influence in the regiment, and could have held it back from premature action if he had wished. In 1922, when he was First Secretary of the Soviet Embassy in Latvia, Semashko defected. Ilyin-Zhenevsky comments: “It is possible that at that time [i.e. July 1917] he also had some ulterior motive, unknown to us.”
2. Some Anarchists had taken over the dacha, on the Vyborg side, of P.P. Durnovo, a former Minister of the Interior, and made it the centre of their activities, which included the seizure of a printing-works. Action was taken to evict them, and this aroused indignation among the working-class population of the Vyborg side, where the 1st Machine-Gun Regiment was stationed.
3. By ‘the Northern front’, in the context of the war with Germany, was meant the front facing the Germans in the Baltic provinces - the front nearest to Petrograd.
4. The Sea Canal was the deep-water channel linking Kronstadt with Petrograd.
5. Angliiskaya Quay is on the opposite bank of the Neva from Vasily Island.
6. Podvoisky wrote about this incident: “I asked him to speak, and a Kronstadt delegation did the same, but Lenin said that his refusal would show that he was against the demonstration. But he later agreed.” Lenin refers to it in his article, ‘An Answer’, in Collected Works, 4th edition, Vol. 25, English version, p. 210.
7. Some of the Kronstadters outside the Taurida Palace demanded to see Pereverzev, the Minister of Justice, for an explanation of why the Anarchist sailor Zheleznyakov, arrested in the raid on Durnovosdacha, had not yet been released. When told that Pereverzev could not be found, the sailors became angry, and Chernov was sent out ‘to calm them’.
8. Sukhanov gives an account of the rescue of Chernov on pp. 444-448 of his The Russian Revolution 1917 (1955).
9. The Provisional Government had by now established itself in the Mariinsky Palace, which had been used under the Tsar for meetings of his State Council. After the ‘July Days’, the Government moved to the Winter Palace.
10. On the evening of July 4, Lenin attended a joint meeting, held in the Taurida Palace, of the Bolshevik Party’s Central Committee, its Petrograd Committee and its Military Organisation, with Trotsky’s ‘Inter-District’ (Mezhrayontsy) Committee.
11. General P.A. Polovtsev’s own account of the ‘July days’ is given in his Glory and Downfall (1935). For other narratives of these events ‘from the other side’, see also The Fatal Years (1938), by Polovtsev’s intelligence chief, B.V. Nikitin, and Petrograd, The City of Trouble, 1914-1918 (1918) by Meriel Buchanan, daughter of the British Ambassador. A recent historical survey is Prelude to Revolution, by A. Rabinowitch.
12. Trotsky quotes this passage in his History of the Russian Revolution. It is mistranslated in the English version of his book so as to reverse the meaning: “These military preparations were of course made on my part not merely with ‘a view to self-defence.'” (Vol.II, 1933, p. 64).
13. Sukhanov’s own account of this episode is in his The Russian Revolution 1917 (1955), pp. 465-467.
14. Stalin’s account of the July Days (his report to the Sixth Party Congress) is in his Works, Vol.3, English version, pp. 171-179.
15. Raskolnikov writes ‘Tsentroflot’, but this is evidently a mistake for ‘Tsentrobalt’, which is the body mentioned in Kerensky’s telegram. ‘Tsentroflot’ was the committee representing the Navy as a whole: it was situated in Petrograd, and was dominated by the Mensheviks and SRs. Another translation of the telegrams will be found, as Document 1165, in the collection of documents entitled The Russian Provisional Government, edited by R.P. Browder and A.F. Kerensky (1961).