The Month of the Great Slander
During that night of July 4, when the two hundred members of both Executive Committees, the worker-soldiers’ and the peasants’, were sitting around between fruitless sessions, a mysterious rumor arrived among them.
Material had been discovered connecting Lenin with the German general staff; tomorrow the newspapers would publish the documents. The gloomy augurs of the præsidium, crossing the hall on their way to one of those endless conferences behind the scenes, responded unwillingly and evasively even to questions from their nearest friends. The Tauride Palace, already almost abandoned by the outside public, was bewildered. “Lenin in the service of the German staff?” Amazement, alarm, malicious pleasure, drew the delegates together in excited groups. “It goes without saying,” says Sukhanov, who was very hostile to the Bolsheviks in the July Days, “that not one person really connected with the revolution doubted for an instant that these rumors were all nonsense.” But those with a revolutionary past constituted an insignificant minority among the members of the Executive Committee. March revolutionists, accidental elements caught up by the first wave, predominated even in the ruling soviet institutions. Among those provincials – town-clerks, shopkeepers, heads of villages – deputies were to be found with a definitely Black Hundred odor. These people immediately began to feel at home: Just what was to be expected! They had known it all along!
Alarmed by this unforeseen and too abrupt turn of events, the leaders sparred for time. Cheidze and Tseretelli suggested to the newspapers by telephone that they refrain from printing the sensational exposure as “unverified.” The editors did not dare ignore this “request” from the Tauride Palace – except one of them. The small yellow sheet published by one of the sons of Suvorin, the powerful publisher of Novoe Vremya, served up to its readers the next morning an official-sounding document about Lenin’s receiving directions and money from the German government. The censorship was thus broken, and within a day the whole press was full of this sensation. Thus began the most incredible episode of a year rich in events: The leaders of a revolutionary party, whose lives for decades had been passed in a struggle against rulers, both crowned and uncrowned, found themselves portrayed before the country and the whole world as hired agents of the Hohenzollern. On a scale hitherto unheard of, this slander was sown in the thick of the popular masses, a vast majority of whom had heard of the Bolshevik leaders for the first time only after the February revolution. Mud-slinging here became a political factor of primary importance. This makes necessary an attentive examination of its mechanism.
The primary source of this sensational document was the testimony of a certain Ermolenko. The image of this hero is sufficiently delineated by the official records: In the period from the Japanese War to 1913, he was an agent of the Intelligence Service; in 1913, for reasons not established, he was discharged from service with the title of ensign from the ranks; in 1914 he was called to service in the army, gallantly permitted himself to be captured, and became a police spy among the war prisoners. The régime of a concentration camp was not to this spy’s taste, however, and “at the insistence of his friends,” so he testifies, he took service with the Germans – needless to say, with patriotic aims. Here a new chapter opened in his life. On April 25 this ensign from the ranks was “thrown over the Russian front” by the German military authorities for the purpose of dynamiting bridges, reporting military secrets, struggling for the independence of the Ukraine, and agitating for a separate peace. The German officers, Captains Shiditsky and Liebers, in contracting with Ermolenko for these services, informed him in passing, without any practical necessity and evidently merely in order to keep up his spirits, that besides the ensign himself, Lenin would be working in Russia in the same direction. That was the foundation of the whole affair.
Who – or what – suggested to Ermolenko his testimony about Lenin? Not the German officers, in any case. A simple juxtaposition of dates and facts will introduce us into the intellectual workshop of the ensign. On April 4 Lenin issued his famous theses, constituting a declaration of war against the February régime. On April 20-21 occurred the armed demonstration against a continuance of the war. The attack upon Lenin at that time became a veritable hurricane. On the 25th Ermolenko was “thrown over” the front, and during the first half of May was getting in contact with the Intelligence Service at headquarters. Ambiguous newspaper articles demonstrating that the policy of Lenin was advantageous to the Kaiser gave birth to the idea that Lenin was a German agent. Officers and commissars at the front, struggling with the irrepressible “Bolshevism” of the soldiers, were still less ceremonious in their forms of expression when the talk was about Lenin. Ermolenko promptly plunged into these waters. Whether he himself thought up the dragged-in remark about Lenin, whether it was suggested to him by some outside person, or whether it was cooperatively manufactured by Ermolenko and the officials of the Intelligence Service, has no great significance. The demand for slanders against the Bolsheviks had reached such intensity that a supply could not fail to turn up. The chief of the headquarters staff, General Denikin, future generalissimo of the White Guards in the civil war – himself not very much higher in his outlook than the agents of the tzarist secret service – attributed, or pretended to attribute, great importance to the testimony of Ermolenko, and turned it over to the War Minister on May 16 with an appropriate letter. Kerensky, we may assume, exchanged opinions with Tseretelli or Cheidze, who could hardly have failed to put a curb on his righteous indignation. That evidently explains why the thing went no further. Kerensky wrote later that, although Ermolenko had testified to a connection of Lenin with the German staff, he did so “not with sufficient credibility.” The report of Ermolenko-Denikin thus remained for a month and a half under a bushel. The Intelligence Service dismissed Ermolenko as superfluous, and the ensign wandered off to the Far East to drink away the money he had received from two sources.
The events of the July Days, however, revealing the danger of Bolshevism in its full stature, called to mind the exposures of Ermolenko. He was hastily summoned from Blagoveshchensk, but owing to a sheer lack of imagination he could not, in spite of all cluckings and jerkings of the reins, add one word to his original testimony. By that time, however, the Department of Justice and the Intelligence Service were working under full steam. Inquiries about possible criminal connections of the Bolsheviks were addressed to politicians, generals, gendarmes, merchants, innumerable people of any and every profession. The respectable tzarist secret police conducted themselves in this investigation with considerably more discretion than the brand-new representatives of democratic justice. “Such evidence,” wrote a former chief of the Petrograd secret police, the venerable general Globachev, “as that Lenin worked in Russia to her injury and on German money, was not, at least during my period of service, in the possession of the secret police.” Another secret police officer, Yakubov, chief of the intelligence department of the Petrograd military district, testified: “I know nothing of a connection between Lenin and his followers and the German general staff, but I also know nothing of the resources upon which Lenin worked.” Thus from the institutions of the tzarist spy system, which had kept watch of Bolshevism from its very inception, nothing useful could be squeezed out.
However, when people seek long, especially if they are armed with power, they find something in the end. A certain Z. Burstein, a merchant by official calling, opened the eyes of the Provisional Government to a “German espionage organization in Stockholm, headed by Parvus,” – a well-known German social democrat of Russian origin. According to the testimony of Burstein, Lenin was in contact with this organization through the Polish revolutionists, Ganetsky and Kozlovsky. Kerensky wrote later: “Some extraordinarily serious data – unfortunately not of a legal, but merely of a secret police character – were to receive absolutely unquestionable confirmation with the arrival in Russia of Ganetsky, who had been arrested on the border, and were to be converted into authentic juridical material against the Bolshevik staff.” Kerensky knew in advance into what this material would be converted!
The testimony of the merchant, Burstein, concerned the trade operations of Ganetsky and Kozlovsky between Petrograd and Stockholm. This wartime commerce, which evidently had recourse at times to a code correspondence, had no relation to politics. The Bolshevik party had no relation to this commerce. Lenin and Trotsky had publicly denounced Parvus, who combined good commerce with bad politics, and in printed words had appealed to the Russian revolutionists to break off all relations with him. But who was there in the whirlpool of events who had time to look into all this? An espionage organization in Stockholm – that sounded plain enough. And so the light unsuccessfully ignited by the hand of ensign Ermolenko, flared up from another direction. To be sure, here too they ran into a difficulty. The head of the Intelligence Service of the general staff, Prince Turkestanov, to the query of an investigator into the especially important affair of Alexandrov, had answered, “Z. Burstein is a person not deserving the slightest confidence. Burstein is an unscrupulous type of business man, who will not stop at any kind of undertaking.” But could Burstein’s bad reputation stand in the way of an attempt to besmirch the reputation of Lenin? No, Kerensky did not hesitate to recognize the testimony of Burstein as “extraordinarily serious.” Henceforth the investigation was off on the Stockholm scent. The exposures of a spy who had been in the service of two general staffs, and an unscrupulous business man, “not deserving the slightest confidence,” lay at the foundation of that utterly fantastic accusation against a revolutionary party which a nation of 160 million were about to raise to the supreme power.
But how did it happen that the materials of a preliminary investigation appeared in print, and moreover just at the moment when the shattered offensive of Kerensky was becoming a catastrophe, and the July demonstration in Petrograd was revealing the irresistible growth of the Bolsheviks? One of the initiators of this business, the attorney general, Bessarabov, later frankly described in the press how, when it became clear that the Provisional Government in Petrograd was wholly without reliable armed forces, it was decided in the district headquarters to try to create a psychological change in the regiments by means of some strong medicine. “The substance of the documents was communicated to representatives of the Preobrazhensky regiment nearest to headquarters; those present observed what an overwhelming impression the communication made. From that moment it was clear what a powerful weapon was in the hands of the government.” After this successful experimental test, these conspirators from the Department of Justice, the Intelligence Service and the General Staff hastened to make known their discoveries to the Minister of Justice. Pereverzev answered that no official communication could be issued, but that by the members of the Provisional Government who were present “no obstacle would be put in the way of a private initiative.” The names of the juridical and staff officials were rightly judged inapposite to the best interests of the business: in order to get the sensational slander into circulation a “political figure” was needed. By the method of private initiative the conspirators had no difficulty in finding exactly the personage they needed. A former revolutionist, a member of the second Duma, a shrieking orator and a passionate lover of intrigue, Alexinsky had once stood on the extreme left flank of the Bolsheviks. Lenin had been a hopeless opportunist in his eyes. In the years of reaction Alexinsky had created a special ultra-left group, which he had continued to lead from abroad until the war, at the beginning of which he took an ultra-patriotic position and straightway made a specialty of accusing all and everybody of being in the service of the Kaiser. Along this line he developed an extensive espionage business in Paris in company with Russian and French patriots of the same type. The Paris Association of Foreign Journalists – that is, the correspondents of Allied and neutral countries, a very patriotic and by no means austere body – found it necessary in a special resolution to declare Alexinsky “a dishonest slanderer” and expel him from its midst. Arriving in Petrograd with this attestation after the February revolution, Alexinsky made an attempt, in the character of a former Left, to get into the Executive Committee. In spite of all their tolerance, the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries by a resolution of April 11 shut the door in his face, suggesting that he make an attempt to re-establish his honor. That was easy to propose! Having decided that he was better fitted to besmirch others than rehabilitate himself, Alexinsky got into connection with the Intelligence Service, and laid hold of a national field of operation for his instinct for intrigue. By the second half of July he had already begun to include Mensheviks, too, in the widening circle of his slanders. A leader of the latter party, Dan, abandoning the policy of watchful waiting, printed in the official soviet Izvestia (July 22) a letter of protest: “It is time to put an end to the doings of a man officially denounced as a dishonest slanderer.” Is it not clear that Themis, inspired by Ermolenko and Burstein, could find no better intermediary between herself and public opinion than Alexinsky? It was his signature which adorned the documents of the exposure.
Behind the scenes the minister-socialists protested against the handing over of these documents to the press, as also did two of the bourgeois ministers, Nekrasov and Tereshchenko. On the day of their publication, July 5, Pereverzev, with whom the government had already been willing to part, found himself obliged to resign. The Mensheviks passed the hint that this was their victory. Kerensky subsequently asserted that the minister had been removed for being too hasty with the exposure, thus hindering the course of the investigation. In any case, Pereverzev, with his departure, if not with his presence in the government, gave satisfaction to everybody.
On that same day Zinoviev appeared at a sitting of the bureau of the Executive Committee, and in the name of the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks demanded that immediate measures be taken to exonerate Lenin and to prevent possible consequences of the slander. The bureau could not refuse to appoint a commission of inquiry. Sukhanov writes: “The commission itself understood that what needed investigation was not the question of Lenin’s selling out Russia, but only of the sources of the slander.” But the commission ran into the jealous competition of the Institutions of Justice and the Intelligence Service, which had every reason not to desire outside interference in their trade. To be sure, the soviet bodies had not up to that time had any difficulty in getting the better of the governmental bodies when they found it necessary. But the July Days had produced a serious shift of power to the right, and moreover the soviet commission was in no hurry to fulfil a task obviously in conflict with the political interests of those who had intrusted it. The more serious of the compromise leaders – that is, properly speaking, only the Mensheviks – were concerned to establish a formal disconnection with the slander, but nothing more. In all cases where it was impossible to avoid making some direct answer, they would in a few words clear themselves of guilt. But they did not extend a finger to ward off the poisoned sword poised over the head of the Bolsheviks. A popular image of their policy was once provided by the Roman pro-consul, Pilate. Yes, and could they behave otherwise without betraying themselves? It was only the slander against Lenin that in the July Days turned away a part of the garrison from the Bolsheviks. If the Compromisers had made a fight against the slander, it is easy to imagine that the battalion of the Izmailovstsi would have stopped singing the Marseillaise in honor of the Executive Committee and gone back to their barracks, if not to the Palace of Kshesinskaia.
In line with the general policy of the Mensheviks, the Minister of the Interior, Tseretelli, who took the responsibility for the arrest of Bolsheviks soon to follow, did indeed, under pressure from the Bolshevik faction, announce at a meeting of the Executive Committee that he personally did not suspect the Bolshevik leaders of espionage, but that he did accuse them of conspiracy and armed insurrection. On July 13, Lieber, in introducing a resolution which in essence outlawed the Bolshevik party, deemed it necessary to remark: “I myself consider that the accusations directed against Lenin and Zinoviev have no foundation.” Such declarations were met by all in gloomy silence: to the Bolsheviks they seemed dishonorably evasive, to the patriots, superfluous or unprofitable.
Speaking on the 17th at a joint session of the two Executive Committees, Trotsky said: “An intolerable atmosphere has been created, in which you as well as we are choking. They are throwing dirty accusations at Lenin and Zinoviev. (Voice: ’That is true.’ Uproar. Trotsky continues.) There are in this hall, it appears, people who sympathize with these accusations. There are people here who have only sneaked into the revolution. (Uproar. The president’s bell long tries to restore order.) ... Lenin has fought thirty years for the revolution. I have fought twenty years against the oppression of the people. And we cannot but cherish a hatred for German militarism ... A suspicion against us in that direction could be expressed only by those who do not know what a revolutionist is. I have been sentenced by a German court to eight months’ imprisonment for my struggle against German militarism ... This everybody knows. Let nobody in this hall say that we are hirelings of Germany, for that is not the voice of convinced revolutionists but the voice of scoundrels. (Applause)” Thus the episode was reported in the anti-Bolshevik publications of the day. The Bolshevik publications were already closed. It is necessary to explain, however, that the applause came from a small left sector. A part of the deputies bellowed with hatred. The majority were silent. No one, however, even of the direct agents of Kerensky, ascended the tribune to support the official version of the accusation, or even indirectly to defend it.
In Moscow, where the struggle between Bolsheviks and Compromisers had in general assumed a milder character – only to become so much the more cruel in October – a joint session of the two soviets, the workers’ and soldiers’, passed a resolution on July 10th to “publish and paste up a manifesto in which it shall be declared that the accusation of espionage against the Bolshevik faction is a slander and a plot of the counter-revolution.” The Petrograd soviet, more directly dependent upon governmental combinations, took no steps whatever, awaiting the conclusions of a Commission of Inquiry which had not even met.
On July 5, Lenin, in a conversation with Trotsky, raised the question: “Aren’t they getting ready to shoot us all?” Only such an intention could explain the official stamp placed upon that monstrous slander. Lenin considered the enemy capable of carrying through to the end the scheme they had thought up, and decided not to fall into their hands. On the evening of the 6th, Kerensky arrived from the front all stuffed full of the suggestions of the generals, and demanded decisive measures against the Bolsheviks. At about two o’clock at night the government resolved to bring to trial all the leaders of the “armed insurrection,” and to disband the regiments which had taken part in the mutiny. The military detachment sent to the apartment of Lenin for purposes of search and arrest had to content itself with search, for the occupant had already left home. Lenin still remained in Petrograd, but hid in a worker’s apartment, demanding that the soviet Inquiry Commission hear him and Zinoviev in conditions precluding the danger of attack from the counter-revolution. In a declaration sent to the Commission, Lenin and Zinoviev wrote: “This morning (Friday, July 7) it was communicated to Kamenev from the Duma that the commission was to go at 12 o’clock to an apartment agreed upon. We are writing these lines at 6:30 in the evening of July 7, and we remark that up to now the Commission has not appeared or given the slightest sign of its existence ... The responsibility for the delay of the inquiry does not rest upon us.” The disinclination of the soviet commission to begin the promised investigation finally convinced Lenin that the Compromisers were washing their hands of the case, and leaving it to the mercies of the White Guards. The officers and junkers, who had by that time broken up the party printing plant, were now beating up and arresting in the streets everyone who protested against the charge of espionage against the Bolsheviks. Lenin therefore finally decided to go into hiding – not from the investigation, but from possible attempts upon his life.
On the 15th, Lenin and Zinoviev explained in the Kronstadt Bolshevik paper, which the authorities had not dared to shut down, why they did not consider it possible to hand themselves over to the authorities: “From a letter of the former Minister of Justice, Pereverzev, printed on Sunday in the newspaper Novoe Vremya, it has become perfectly clear that the ’case’ of the spy activities of Lenin and others was a perfectly deliberate frame-up by the party of counter-revolution. Pereverzev quite openly acknowledges that he put in circulation unverified accusations in order to arouse the rage (his verbatim expression) of the soldiers against our party. This is the confession of yesterday’s Minister of Justice! ... There is no guarantee of justice in Russia at this moment. To turn oneself over to the authorities would mean to put oneself in the hands of the Miliukovs, Alexinskies, Pereverzevs, in the hands of infuriated counter-revolutionists for whom the whole accusation against us is a mere episode in a civil war.” In order to explain at this day the meaning of the phrase “episode in a civil war,” it is sufficient to remember the fate of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. Lenin knew how to see ahead.
While agitators of the hostile camp were telling a thousand stories – Lenin is on a destroyer, Lenin has fled to Germany in a submarine, etc. – the majority of the Executive Committee hastily condemned Lenin for avoiding an investigation. Ignoring the political essence of the accusation, and the pogrom situation in which, and for the sake of which, it was launched, the Compromisers came out as champions of pure justice. This was the least inexpedient position of all those remaining open to them. A resolution of the Executive Committee on July 13 not only declared the conduct of Lenin and Zinoviev “absolutely unpermissible,” but also demanded of the Bolshevik faction “an immediate, categorical and clear condemnation” of its leaders. The faction unanimously rejected the demands of the Executive Committee. However in the Bolshevik ranks – at least in the upper circles – there were waverings on the subject of Lenin’s avoiding an investigation. And among even the most extreme Left Compromisers Lenin’s disappearance caused downright indignation – an indignation not always hypocritical, either, as we see in the example of Sukhanov. The slanderous character of the material supplied by the secret police had not been subject to the slightest doubt in his mind, as we know, from the beginning. “The nonsensical accusation went up like smoke,” he wrote. “It had no confirmation, and people simply stopped believing it.” But it remained a mystery for Sukhanov how Lenin could decide to avoid an inquiry. “That was something wholly special, unexampled, incomprehensible. Any other mortal would have demanded a court and an investigation, no matter how unfavorable the circumstances.” Yes, any other mortal. But no other mortal could have become an object of such raging hatred to the ruling classes. Lenin was not any other mortal, and did not for one moment forget the responsibility which rested on him. He knew how to draw all the inferences from a situation, and he knew how in the name of those tasks to which he had consecrated his life, to ignore the oscillations of “public opinion.” Quixotism was just as foreign to him as posing.
In company with Zinoviev Lenin passed a number of weeks in the environs of Petrograd in a forest near Sestroretsk. They had to spend the nights and find shelter from rain in a haystack. Disguised as a fireman Lenin then crossed the Finland border on a locomotive, and concealed himself in the apartment of a Helsingfors police chief, a former Petrograd worker. Afterward he moved nearer the Russian border, to Vyborg. From the end of September he lived secretly in Petrograd. And on the day of the insurrection he appeared, after an almost four months’ absence, in the open arena.
July became a month of shameless, unbridled and triumphant slander. By August the slander had already begun to exhaust itself. Just a month after the attack was let loose, Tseretelli, ever true to himself, deemed it necessary to repeat at a session of the Executive Committee: “On the day after the arrests I gave an oral answer to the questions of the Bolsheviks, and I said: ‘The leaders of the Bolsheviks, under indictment for inciting to insurrection on July 3-5, I do not suspect of connection with the German staff.’” To say less than that would have been impossible; to say more would have been inexpedient. The press of the compromise parties went no farther than these words of Tseretelli, and since this press was at the same time bitterly denouncing the Bolsheviks as auxiliaries of German militarism, the voice of the compromisist papers merged politically with the outcry of all the rest of the press, which was speaking of the Bolsheviks not as “Auxiliaries” of Ludendorff but as his hired agents. The highest notes in this chorus were sung by the Kadets. Russkie Vedomosti, the paper of the liberal Moscow professors, printed a communication to the effect that in a search in the editorial offices of Pravda a German letter had been found in which a Baron from Gaparanda “welcomes the activities of the Bolsheviks and foresees what legitimate rejoicing this will cause in Berlin.” The German Baron on the Finland border well knew what letters were needed by the Russian patriots. The press of cultivated society, defending itself against Bolshevik barbarism, was filled with such communications.
Did the professors and lawyers believe their own words? To admit this, at least in regard to the leaders in the capital, would be to think far too little of their political intelligence. Even if not considerations of principle, or of psychological possibility, mere business considerations alone ought to have revealed to them the vacuity of these accusations – and first of all financial considerations. The German government could obviously have helped the Bolsheviks, not with ideas, but with money. But money was just what the Bolsheviks did not have. The center of the party abroad during the war was struggling with cruel need; a hundred francs was a big sum; the central organ was appearing once a month, or once in two months, and Lenin was carefully counting the lines in order not to exceed his budget. The expenses of the Petrograd organization during the war years amounted to a few thousand rubles, which went mostly to the printing of illegal leaflets. In two and a half years only 300,000 copies of these leaflets were distributed in Petrograd. After the revolution the inflow of members and of means increased, of course, remarkably. The workers were wonderfully ready to tax themselves for the Soviet and for the soviet parties. “Contributions, all kinds of dues, collections and deductions in behalf of the Soviet,” reported the lawyer Bramson, a Trudovik, at the first congress of the soviets, “began on the very first day after our revolution broke out ... You could see the extraordinarily touching spectacle of an uninterrupted pilgrimage to us in the Tauride Palace from early morning to late at night bringing these contributions.” As time went on, the workers were still more ready to make these deductions in behalf of the Bolsheviks. However, in spite of the swift growth of the party and of money receipts, Pravda was, in physical proportions, the smallest of all the party papers. Soon after his arrival in Russia Lenin wrote to Radek in Stockholm: “Write articles for Pravda about foreign politics – extremely short and in the spirit of Pravda (there is very, very little space – we are trying hard to enlarge it).” In spite of the Spartan régime of economy instituted by Lenin, the party was always in need. The disbursement of two or three thousand war – time rubles in behalf of some local organization would mean always a serious problem for the Central Committee. In order to send papers to the front, it became necessary again and again to take up special collections among the workers. And even so, the Bolshevik papers arrived in the trenches in incomparably fewer number than the papers of the Compromisers and Liberals. Complaints about this were continual. “We are living only on the rumor of your papers, wrote the soldiers. In April a city conference of the party appealed to the workers of Petrograd to collect in three days the 75,000 rubles lacking for the purchase of a printing plant. The sum was more than covered, and the party finally acquired its own printing press – the same one which the junkers shattered to the ground in July. The influence of the Bolshevik slogans spread like a fire in the steppes, but the material instruments of their propaganda remained exceedingly scant. The personal lives of the Bolsheviks gave still less occasion for slander. What then remained? Nothing, in the last analysis, but Lenin’s trip through Germany. But that very fact, advanced oftenest of all before inexperienced audiences as proof of Lenin’s friendship with the German government, in reality proved the opposite. An agent would have travelled through the hostile territory concealed and without the slightest danger. Only a revolutionist confident of himself to the last degree would have dared openly to transgress the laws of patriotism in wartime.
The Ministry of Justice, however, did not hesitate to carry out its unpleasant task. It had not for nothing inherited employees trained during the final period of the autocracy, when the murder of liberal deputies by Black Hundred agents known by name to the whole country would remain systematically undiscovered, while a Jewish salesman in Kiev would be accused of using the blood of a Christian boy. Over the signature of the investigator in the exceptionally important affair of Alexandrov, and that of the Attorney General, Karinsky, a decree was published on the 21st of July, indicting on a charge of state treason Lenin, Zinoviev, Kollontai and a number of other people, among them the German social democrat Helfand-Parvus. The same articles of the Criminal Code, 51, 100 and 108, were afterwards invoked in indicting Trotsky and Lunacharsky, arrested by military detachments on the 23rd of July. According to the text of the decree, the leaders of the Bolsheviks “being Russian citizens, did, according to a preliminary agreement between themselves and other parties, with the aim of aiding other states engaged in hostile activities within the borders of Russia, enter into an agreement with the agents of the said governments to co-operate in the disorganization of the Russian army and rear for the purpose of weakening the fighting power of the army. For which purpose, with monies received by them from these states, they did organize a propaganda among the population and troops, summoning them to an immediate refusal of military activity against the enemy, and they did also with the same ends in view, during the period from the 3rd to the 5th of July, 1917, organize in Petrograd an armed insurrection.” Although every educated person in those days, at least in the capital, knew in what circumstances Trotsky had come from New York through Christiania and Stockholm to Petrograd, the Court of Inquiry charged him also with having travelled through Germany. The Department of Justice evidently desired to leave no doubt as to the solidity of the materials which had been placed at its disposition by the Intelligence Service.
The latter institution has nowhere been a propagator of good morals. But in Russia the Intelligence Service was the very sewer of the Rasputin régime. The scum of the military officers, the police, the gendarmerie, together with discharged agents of the secret police, formed the cadres of that foul, stupid and all-powerful institution. Colonels, captains and ensigns who were useless for military deeds took under their supervision all branches of the social and governmental life, establishing throughout the country a system of spy feudalism. “The situation became absolutely catastrophic,” complains a former director of police, Kurlov, “when the notorious Intelligence Service began to take part in the affairs of civil administration.” Kurlov himself has no little dirty business to his credit – among other things an indirect participation in the murder of the Prime Minister, Stolypin. Nevertheless the activities of the Intelligence Service made even his experienced imagination shudder. During the time when “the struggle with enemy espionage ... was being carried on very weakly,” he writes, notoriously framed-up cases would frequently come down upon the heads of completely innocent people with the aim of naked blackmail. Kurlov ran into one such case: “To my horror,” he says, “[I] heard the pseudonym of a secret agent known to me in my former service with the police department as having been expelled for blackmail.” One of the provincial heads of the Intelligence Service, a certain Ustinov, a notary before the war, describes the morals of this service in his memoirs in practically the same terms as those used by Kurlov: “In search of something to do, the agents themselves would manufacture material.”
It is still more instructive to verify the intellectual level of the institution by the example of this very accuser. “Russia went to ruin,” writes Ustinov, speaking of the February revolution, “the victim of a revolution created by German agents on German money.” The attitude of the patriotic notary to the Bolsheviks needs no further explanation. “The reports of the Intelligence Service as to the former activities of Lenin, as to his connection with the German staff, as to his receipt of German gold, are convincing enough to hang him immediately.” Kerensky did not do this, it would seem, only because he was himself a traitor. “Especially astonishing, and even downright exasperating, was the leadership of a good-for-nothing lawyer among the Yids, Sashka Kerensky.” Ustinov testifies that Kerensky “was well-known as a provocateur who betrayed his comrades.” The French general, Anselm, as was found out later, abandoned Odessa in March, 1919, not under pressure from the Bolsheviks, but because he received an immense bribe. From the Bolsheviks? No. “The Bolsheviks had nothing to do with it,” said Ustinov. “Here the Free Masons were at work.” Such was that world.
Soon after the February revolution this institution, consisting of sharpers, falsificators and blackmailers, was put in charge of a patriotic Social Revolutionary, Mironov, who had arrived from abroad and whom an assistant minister, Demianov, a “people’s socialist,” characterized in the following words: “Mironov creates a good impression externally ... But I shall not be surprised if I learn that this is not a wholly normal person. It is quite possible to believe he is not: a normal person would hardly have agreed to stand at the head of an institution which ought to have been simply disbanded and its walls washed with sublimate.” As a result of that administrative mix-up caused by the revolution, the Intelligence Service came under the supervision of the Minister of Justice, Pereverzev, a man of incredible light-mindedness and complete indifference to the means he employed. The same Demianov says in his memoirs that his minister “enjoyed almost no prestige at all in the Soviet.” Under the protection of Mironov and Pereverzev, the Intelligence men, frightened at first by the revolution, soon came to themselves and accommodated their old activities to the new political situation. In June even the left wing of the governmental press began to publish information about blackmail and other crimes committed by the highest ranks of the Intelligence Service, even including two chiefs of the institution, Shukin and Broy, first assistants of the miserable Mironov. A week before the July crisis the Executive Committee, under pressure from the Bolsheviks, had addressed a demand to the government for an immediate inspection of the Intelligence Service with the participation of soviet representatives. The intelligence men thus had their own departmental reasons – or rather reasons of livelihood – for striking at the Bolsheviks as quickly and as hard as possible. Prince Lvov had signed a timely law giving the Intelligence Service the right to hold an arrestee under lock and key for three months.
The character of the accusation, and of the accusers, inevitably gives rise to the question, how could people of normal mould believe, or even pretend to believe, in this notorious lie which was inept from beginning to end. The success of the Intelligence Service would in truth have been unthinkable, except for the general atmosphere created by war, defeat, ruin, revolution, and the embitterment of the social struggle. Since the autumn of 1914 nothing had gone well with the ruling classes of Russia. The ground was crumbling under their feet. Everything was falling from their hands. Misfortunes were coming down on them from all directions. How could they help seeking a scapegoat? The former Attorney General, Zavadsky, remembers that “entirely healthy people were inclined in the alarming years of the war to suspect treachery where it apparently, and even indubitably, was not to be found. The majority of the cases of this kind prosecuted while I was attorney general, were fanciful.” These cases were initiated, not only by spiteful agents, but by ordinary philistines who had lost their heads. But often, too, the war psychosis united with the pre-revolutionary political fever to produce even more freakish fruits. The Liberals, in common with the unsuccessful generals, sought everywhere and in everybody for the hand of the Germans. The court camarilla had been considered Germanified. The whole clique of Rasputin had been believed, or at least declared by the Liberals, to be under instructions from Potsdam. The tzarina had been widely and openly accused of espionage. She had been held responsible even in court circles for the sinking by Germans of the vessel in which General Kitchener was coming to Russia. The Rights, it goes without saying, were not slow to pay back the debt. Zavadsky relates how the Assistant Minister of the Interior, Beletsky, attempted early in 1916 to bring a charge against the national-liberal industrialist, Guchkov, accusing him of “activities bordering upon state treason in wartime.” In exposing the performances of Beletsky, Kurlov, also a former Assistant Minister of the Interior, in his turn put the question to Miliukov: “For what honorable work in behalf of the fatherland did he (Miliukov) receive two hundred thousand rubles of ‘Finland’ money, transferred to him by mail in the name of the janitor of his house?” The quotation marks around “Finland” are supposed to show that it was really a question of German money. But nevertheless Miliukov had a well-earned reputation for Germanophobia! In governmental circles it was generally considered as proven that all the opposition parties were operating with German money. In August 1915, when disturbances were expected in connection with the dissolution of the Duma, the naval minister, Grigorovich, considered to be almost a Liberal, said at a session of the government: “The Germans are conducting a reinforced propaganda and showering the anti-government organizations with money.” The Octobrists and Kadets, although indignant at these insinuations, nevertheless never thought of fending them off in a leftward direction. On the subject of a semi-patriotic speech of the Menshevik, Cheidze, at the beginning of the war, the president of the Duma, Rodzianko, wrote: “Subsequent events proved the closeness of Cheidze to German circles.” You will wait in vain for the slightest shadow of such proof!
In his History of the Second Russian Revolution, Miliukov says: “The rôle of the ‘dark sources’ in the revolution of February 27 is wholly unclear, but judging by all that followed it is difficult to deny it.” Peter Struve, a former Marxist and now a reactionary Slavophile of German origin, expresses himself more decisively: “When the Russian revolution, planned and created by Germany, succeeded, Russia had to all intents and purposes withdrawn from the war.” Like Miliukov, Struve is here speaking not of the October, but of the February Revolution. On the subject of the famous Order No.1, the Magna Carta of soldiers’ liberties drawn up by the delegates of the Petrograd garrison, Rodzianko wrote: “I have not the slightest doubt of the German origin of Order No.1:” The chief of one of the divisions, General Barkovsky, told Rodzianko that “Order No.1 was supplied to his troops in enormous quantities from the German trenches.” When he became war minister, Guchkov, whom they had tried to indict for state treason under the tzar, hastened to switch this accusation to the left. The April orders of Guchkov to the army read: “Persons who hate Russia, and are undoubtedly in the service of our enemies, have penetrated into the active army with the persistence characteristic of our enemies, and evidently in fulfilment of their demands are preaching the necessity of ending the war as soon as possible.” On the subject of the April manifestation, which was directed against an imperialist policy, Miliukov writes: “The task of removing both ministers (Miliukov and Guchkov) was directly imposed by Germany,” and the workers got 15 rubles a day from the Bolsheviks for taking part in the demonstration. With this key of German gold the liberal historian unlocks all those enigmas against which he bumped his head as a politician.
The patriotic socialists who baited the Bolsheviks as involuntary allies, if not agents, of the German ruling circles, were themselves under the same accusation from the right. We have seen what Rodzianko said about Cheidze. He did not even spare Kerensky himself. “It was he, undoubtedly, who through secret sympathy for the Bolsheviks, but perhaps also because of other considerations, impelled the Provisional Government” to admit the Bolsheviks into Russia. “Other considerations” can mean nothing but a partiality for German gold. In his curious memoirs, which have been translated into foreign languages, the General of Gendarmes, Spiridovich, remarking upon the abundance of Jews in the ruling circles of the Social Revolutionaries, adds: “Among them Russian names also glimmered, such as the future Rural Minister, the German spy, Victor Chernov.” And it was by no means only this gendarme who suspected the leader of the Social Revolutionary party. After the July pogrom of the Bolsheviks, the Kadets lost no time in raising a hue and cry against the Minister of Agriculture, Chernov, a man suspected of connections with Berlin; and the unhappy patriot had to resign temporarily in order to exonerate himself. Speaking in the autumn of 1917 on the instructions given by the patriotic Executive Committee to the Menshevik, Skobelev, for his participation in an international socialist conference, Miliukov, in the tribune of the Pre-parliament, demonstrated by means of a meticulous syntactical analysis of its text, the obvious “German origin” of the document. The style of the instructions, as indeed of all the compromisist literature, was as a fact bad. The belated democracy, without ideas, without will, glancing round affrightedly on all sides, piled up qualification after qualification in its writings, until they sounded like a bad translation from a foreign language – just as the democracy itself was, indeed, the shadow of a foreign past. Ludendorff, however, is not in the least to blame for that.
The journey of Lenin through Germany offered inexhaustible possibilities for chauvinist demagoguism. But as though to demonstrate beyond a doubt the purely instrumental rôle of patriotism in their policies, the bourgeois press, after having at first met Lenin with a hypocritical good-will, started their licentious attack upon his “Germanophilism” only after his social program had become clear. “Land, bread, and peace” – those slogans he could only have brought from Germany. At that time there were still no revelations of Ermolenko.
After Trotsky and several other emigrants, returning from America, had been arrested by the military authorities of King George in the latitude of Halifax, the British ambassador in Petrograd gave to the press an official communication in a quite inimitable Anglo-Russian language: “Those Russian citizens on the steamer Christianiafiord were detained in Halifax because it was communicated to the British government that they had connections with a plan subsidized by the German government to overthrow the Russian Provisional Government ...” Buchanan’s communication was dated April 14: at that time neither Burstein nor Ermolenko had appeared upon the horizon. Miliukov, in his capacity of Minister of Foreign Affairs, found himself obliged, however, to request the British government through the Russian ambassador, Nabokov, to liberate Trotsky and permit him to come to Russia. “Knowing of Trotsky’s activities in America,” writes Nabokov, “the British government was perplexed: ‘Is this ill-will or blindness?’ The Englishmen shrugged their shoulders, understood the danger, gave us warning.” Lloyd George however was compelled to yield. In answer to a question put by Trotsky to the British Ambassador in the Petrograd press, Buchanan took back in some embarrassment his first explanation, and this time announced: “My government detained the group of emigrants in Halifax only for the purpose of, and until, the establishment of their identity by the Russian government ... That is the whole story of the detaining of the Russian emigrants.” Buchanan was not only a gentleman, but also a diplomat.
At a conference of members of the State Duma early in June, Miliukov, having been pushed out of the government by the April demonstration, demanded the arrest of Lenin and Trotsky, unequivocally hinting at their connections with Germany. On the following day at the congress of the soviets, Trotsky declared: “Until Miliukov confirms or withdraws this accusation, he wears the brand of a dishonest slanderer.” Miliukov answered in the newspaper Rech that he was “in truth dissatisfied that Messrs. Lenin and Trotsky are at liberty,” but that he had motivated the demand for their arrest “not on the ground that they are agents of Germany, but that they have sufficiently violated the criminal code.” Miliukov was a diplomat without being a gentleman. The necessity of arresting Lenin and Trotsky had been perfectly clear to him before the revelations of Ermolenko; the juridical dressings of the arrest were a mere question of technique. The leader of the Liberals had been playing with the sharp blade of this accusation long before it was set in motion in a “juridical” form.
The rôle of the myth of German gold becomes most obvious of all in a colorful episode described by the general administrator of the Provisional Government, the Kadet Nabokov (not to be confused with the Russian ambassador in London mentioned above). In one of the sittings of the government, Miliukov, speaking on some other question, remarked: “It is no secret to anybody that German money played its rôle among the factors promoting the revolution ...” That was quite in the character of Miliukov, although the formula was obviously softened. “Kerensky,” according to Nabokov’s report, “went into a rage. He seized his portfolio and slamming it down on the table, cried out: ‘Since Miliukov has dared in my presence to slander the sacred cause of the great Russian Revolution, I do not wish to remain here another minute.’” That is wholly in the character of Kerensky although his gestures were perhaps a little exaggerated. A Russian proverb advises us not to spit in the well from which we may have to drink. When he was offended by the October Revolution, Kerensky could think of nothing better to use against it than this myth of German gold. That which in Miliukov’s mouth had been a “slander against a sacred cause” became for Kerensky in the mouth of Burstein the sacred cause of slandering the Bolsheviks.
The unbroken chain of suspicions of Germanophilism and espionage, extending from the tzarina, Rasputin and the court circles, through the ministry, the staffs, the Duma, the liberal newspapers, to Kerensky and a number of the Soviet leaders, strikes one most of all by its monotony. The political enemy seem to have firmly resolved not to overwork their imaginations: they simply switched the same old accusations about from one point to another, the movement being predominantly from right to left. The July slander against the Bolsheviks least of all fell down out of a clear sky. It was the natural fruit of panic and hate, the last link in a shameful chain, the transfer of a stereotyped slanderous formula to its new and final object, permitting a reconciliation of the accusers and the accused of yesterday. All the insults of the ruling group, all their fears, all their bitterness, were now directed against that party which stood at the extreme left and incarnated most completely the unconquerable force of the revolution. Was it in actual fact possible for the possessing classes to surrender their place to the Bolsheviks without having made a last desperate effort to trample them in the blood and filth? That tangle of slander, well snarled up from long usage, was inevitably fated to come down on the heads of the Bolsheviks. The revelations of the retired ensign from the Intelligence Service were only a materialization of the ravings of possessing classes who found themselves in a blind alley. For that reason the slander acquired such frightful force.
The idea of German agentry was not in itself, to be sure, mere raving. The German espionage in Russia was incomparably better organized than the Russian in Germany. It is sufficient to recall the fact that the War Minister, Sukhomlinov, was arrested even under the old régime as the trusted man of Berlin. It is also indubitable that German agents inserted themselves not only into the court and Black Hundred circles, but also among the Lefts. The Austrian and German governments had flirted from the first days of the war with separatist tendencies, beginning among the Ukrainian and Caucasian emigrants. It is interesting that Ermolenko, recruited in April 1917, was sent over to struggle for the secession of the Ukraine. As early as 1914, both Lenin and Trotsky in Switzerland had demanded in print a break with those revolutionists who were getting caught on the hook of Austro-German militarism. Early in 1917 Trotsky repeated this printed warning to the left German social democrats, the followers of Liebknecht, with whom agents of the British embassy were trying to establish connections. But in flirting with separatists in order to weaken Russia and frighten the tzar, the German government was far from the thought of overthrowing tzarism. The best evidence of this is a proclamation scattered in the Russian trenches after the February revolution, and read on March 11 at a session of the Petrograd soviet. “At the beginning the English joined hands with your tzar; now they have turned against him because he would not agree to their self-interested demands. They have overthrown your tzar, given to you by God. Why has this happened? Because he understood and divulged the faults and crafty schemes of the English.” Both the form and contents of this document give internal guarantee of its genuineness. Just as you cannot imitate a Prussian lieutenant, so you cannot imitate his historic philosophy. Hoffmann, a Prussian lieutenant with a general’s rank, imagined that the Russian revolution was thought up and its foundations laid in England. In that, however, there is less absurdity than in the theory of Miliukov and Struve, for Potsdam continued to the end to hope for a separate peace with Tzarskoe Selo, while in London they feared more than anything else a separate peace between them. Only when the impossibility of restoring the tzar became wholly obvious, did the German staff transfer its hopes to the disintegrating power of the revolutionary process. Even in the matter of Lenin’s trip through Germany, the initiative came not from German circles but from Lenin himself – in its very first form, indeed, from the Menshevik, Martov. The German staff only consented to it, and that probably not without hesitation. Ludendorff said to himself: Perhaps relief will come from that side.
During the July events the Bolsheviks themselves sought for an alien and criminal hand in certain unexpected excesses that were obviously provoked with malice aforethought. Trotsky wrote in those days: “What rôle has been played in this by counter-revolutionary provocation and German agents? It is difficult at present to pronounce definitely upon this question. We must await the results of an authentic investigation ... But even now it is possible to say with certainty that the results of such an investigation will throw a clear light upon the work of Black Hundred gangs, and upon the underground rôle played by gold, German, English or 100 per cent Russian, or indeed all three of them. But no judicial investigation will change the political meaning of the events. The worker and soldier masses of Petrograd were not, and could not have been, bought. They are not in the service of Wilhelm, or Buchanan, or Miliukov. The movement was prepared by the war, by oncoming hunger, by the reaction lifting its head, by the headlessness of the government, by the adventurist offensive, by the political distrust and revolutionary alarm of the workers and soldiers ...” All the material in the archives, the documents and memoirs, which have become public since the war and the two revolutions, prove beyond a doubt that the partiality of German agents for the revolutionary processes in Russia did not for one moment rise out of the military-police sphere into the sphere of big politics. Is there, by the way, any need of insisting upon this, after the revolution in Germany itself? How pitiful and impotent did these supposedly all-powerful Hohenzollern agents turn out to be in the autumn of 1918 in the face of the German workers and soldiers! “The calculation of our enemy in sending Lenin to Russia was absolutely right,” says Miliukov. Ludendorff himself quite otherwise estimates the results of the undertaking: “I could not suppose” so he justifies himself, speaking of the Russian revolution, “that it would become the tomb of our own might.” This merely means that of the two strategists, Ludendorff who permitted Lenin to go, and Lenin who accepted his permission, Lenin saw farther and better.
“The enemy propaganda and Bolshevism” complains Ludendorff in his memoirs, “were seeking one and the same goal within the boundaries of the German state. England gave opium to China, our enemies gave us revolution ...” Ludendorff attributes to the Entente the same thing of which Miliukov and Kerensky were accusing Germany. Thus cruelly does the insulted reason of history avenge itself! But Ludendorff did not stop there. In February 1931, he informed the world that behind the back of the Bolsheviks stood international and especially Jewish finance capital, united in the struggle against tzarist Russia and imperialist Germany. “Trotsky arrived in Petrograd from America through Sweden, provided with great supplies of the money of international capitalists. Other moneys were supplied to the Bolsheviks by the Jew, Solmsen, from Germany.” (Ludendorff’s Volkswarte, February 15, 1931). However the testimonies of Ludendorff and Ermolenko may disagree, they coincide in one point: a part of the money did actually come from Germany – not from Ludendorff, it is true, but from his mortal enemy, Solmsen. Only this testimony was lacking to provide an aesthetic finish to the whole question.
But not Ludendorff, nor yet Miliukov, nor Kerensky, invented this device, although they first made a broad use of it. “Solmsen” has many predecessors in history, both as Jew and as German agent. Count Fersen, a Swedish ambassador in France during the great revolution, a passionate partisan of the monarchical power of the king, and more especially of the queen, more than once sent to his government in Stockholm such communications as the following: “The Jew, Efraim, an emissary of Herr Herzberg in Berlin, (the Prussian Minister of Foreign Affairs) is supplying them (the Jacobins) with money; not long ago he received another 600,000 livres.” The moderate newspaper, Les Revolutions de Paris made the supposition that during the republican revolution “emissaries of the European diplomats, such as for instance the Jew Efraim, an agent of the Prussian king, made their way into the volatile and fickle crowd. . . .” The same Fersen reported: “The Jacobins would have perished, but for the help of the rabble bribed by them.” If the Bolsheviks paid daily wages to the participants in that demonstration, they only followed the example of the Jacobins, and moreover the money for bribing the “rabble” came in both cases from a source in Berlin. This similarity in the action of revolutionists in the twentieth and eighteenth centuries would be striking, were it not outweighed by a more striking similarity in the slanders peddled by their enemies. But we need not limit ourselves to the Jacobins. The history of all revolutions and civil wars invariably testifies that a threatened or an overthrown ruling class. is disposed to find the cause of its misfortunes, not in itself, but in foreign agents and emissaries. Not only Miliukov in his character as a learned historian, but even Kerensky in his character as a superficial reader of history, must be aware of this. However, in their character as politicians they were victims of their own counterrevolutionary functions.
Under these theories about the revolutionary rôle of foreign agents, as under all typical mass-misunderstandings, there lies an indirect historical foundation. Consciously or unconsciously, every nation at the critical period of its existence makes especially broad and bold borrowings from the treasury of other peoples. Not infrequently, moreover, a leading rôle in the progressive movement is played by people living on the border or emigrants returning to the homeland. The new ideas and institutions thus appear to the conservative strata first of all as alien, as foreign inventions. The village against the city, the backwoods against the capital, the petty bourgeois against the worker – they all defend themselves under the guise of a national force resisting foreign influence. Miliukov portrayed the Bolshevik movement as “German” for the same reason in the last analysis that the Russian muzhik has for a hundred years regarded as a German any man dressed up in city clothes. The difference is that the muzhik was making an honest mistake.
In 1918 – that is, after the October Revolution – a press bureau of the American government triumphantly published a collection of documents connecting the Bolsheviks with the Germans. This crude forgery, which would not stand up under a breath of criticism, was believed in by many educated and perspicacious people, until it was discovered that the originals of the documents supposed to have been drawn up in different countries were all written on the same machine. The forgers did not stand on ceremony with their customers: they were obviously confident that the political demand for exposures of the Bolsheviks would outweigh the voice of criticism. And they made no mistake, for they were well paid for the documents. However, the American government, separated by an ocean from the scene of the struggle, was only secondarily interested in this matter. But why after all is political slander as such so poor and monotonous? Because the social mind is economical and conservative. It does not expend more efforts than are necessary for its goal. It prefers to borrow the old, when not compelled to create the new. But even when so compelled, it combines with it elements of the old. Each successive religion has created no new mythology, but has merely repersonified the superstitions of the past. In the same manner philosophical systems are created, and doctrines of law and morals. Separate individuals, even those possessed of genius, develop in the same inharmonious way as the society which nourishes them. A bold imagination lives in the same skull with a slavish adherence to trite images. Audacious flights reconcile themselves with crude prejudices. Shakespeare nourished his creative genius upon subjects handed down from the deep ages. Pascal used the theory of probability to demonstrate the existence of God. Newton discovered the law of gravitation and believed in the Apocalypse. After Marconi had established a wireless station in the residence of the pope, the vicar of Christ distributed his mystic blessing by radio. In ordinary times these contradictions do not rise above a condition of drowsiness, but in times of catastrophe they acquire explosive force. When it comes to a threat against their material interests, the educated classes set in motion all the prejudices and confusion which humanity is dragging in its wagon-train behind it. Can we too much blame the lords of old Russia, if they built the mythology of their fall out of indiscriminate borrowings from those classes which were overthrown before them? To be sure, the circumstance that Kerensky resurrects the tale of Ermolenko in his memoirs many years after the event, is, to say the least, superfluous.
The slander of those years of war and revolution was striking, we remarked, in its monotony. However, it does contain a variation. From the piling up of quantity we get a new quality. The struggle of the other parties among themselves was almost like a family spat in comparison with their common baiting of the Bolsheviks. In conflict with one another they were, so to speak, only getting in training for a further conflict, a decisive one. Even in employing against each other the sharpened accusation of German connections, they never carried the thing through to the limit. July presents a different picture. In the assault upon the Bolsheviks all the ruling forces, the government, the courts, the Intelligence Service, the staffs, the officialdom, the municipalities, the parties of the soviet majority, their press, their orators, constituted one colossal unit. The very disagreements among them, like the different tone qualities of the instruments in an orchestra, only strengthened the general effect. An inept invention of two contemptible creatures was elevated to the height of a factor in history. The slanders poured down like Niagara. If you take into consideration the setting – the war and the revolution – and the character of the accused – revolutionary leaders of millions who were conducting their party to the sovereign power – you can say without exaggeration that July 1917 was the month of the most gigantic slander in world history.
Source: Marxist Internet Archive