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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL - Dossier 1917: The fiasco of the Journées de juillet (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Fri, 22 Sep 2017 23:11:14 +0300

Finally ! Trained by the Bolshevik base, the anarchists succeeded in provoking an armed insurrection. Alas, they do not have the means to bring it to an end. The government emerged stronger from the ordeal. ---- On 4 July 1917, at 2 pm, the loyalist troops beat the demonstrators on the Nevsky prospect in Petrograd. ---- Photo by Viktor Boulla. ---- The Russian offensive on the Austro-German front, which had been conceived as a military and political operation, began to flare up in a week. Demoralized soldiers deserted en masse ; Kerenski will not get his laurels again from Bonaparte. ---- In Petrograd, the red-hot barracks are once again in a state of turmoil. The 1st regiment of machine-gunners learned that two-thirds of its 10,000 soldiers should go to the front [1]. At a giant AG, the regiment says he will not accept it when the war has taken a " revolutionary " impossible as long as the capitalists are in power [2].

In Cronstadt, exasperation is such among the 80,000 sailors that a spark would suffice to set fire to the powders.

At the Dourna Durnovo, the FAC fomented the insurrection

Iosif Bleikhman (1868-1921)
One of the most influential and mysterious figures of anarchism in Petrograd in 1917-1918. An ubiquitous speaker, he is also an insurrectionist in every way, leader of the days of July. After taking part in the putsch of October, he will oppose the Bolshevik power. He died in deportation in 1921.
Gathered on July 2, some fifteen FAC officials believe that the situation is ripe to attempt the coup de force they projected in June. A plan was drawn up: the uprising of the gunners and sailors, the occupation of the stations, the telephone exchange, the Novoïe Vremia, the arrest of the government. The kick-off is to be given the next day and the anarchists are counting on this time to train the Bolshevik base, without allowing the central committee of the party time to retain its troops.

That same evening, the House of the People gave a concert to the soldiers who had to go to the front. Bleikhman and his comrades burst in. Their harangue against the war and their appeal to the immediate insurrection inflame the audience. The concert goes to the anti-government meeting.

The following morning, rebelot at the barracks of the 1 st Mitrailleurs: the FAC and the Bolshevik military organization held a meeting and applauded the idea of marching into arms on the same day on the Tauride palace, where the government and the Soviet . A provisional revolutionary committee was elected, of which the Bolshevik Semashko was secretary ; emissaries leave to mobilize Cronstadt and the factories. However, the scenario is thin, the organization summary ... " The street will organize ! " Sweeps Bleikhman, faithful to the spontaneous credo of the FAC.

In reality, the street is not going to organize anything at all, and the July insurrection is going to end in pudding. The anarchists thought that it would be possible to repeat the too easy victory of February. They will pay dearly for this lightness, and the Bolsheviks with them.

Trampling in front of the Palace of Taurida

Efim Yartchouk (1886-1937)
This revolutionary of 1905, deported to Siberia, took refuge in the United States where he became a revolutionary syndicalist. After his return from exile, he animated the anarchist group of Kronstadt. Actor of October, it will then defend the communist dictatorship in Volnyi Golos Trouda, between two incarcerations.
On July 3, at 5 pm, from Vyborg, 50,000 workers and soldiers led by Bleikhman and Semachko walked to the palace of Tauride and ... nothing, or not much. The Menshevik president of the soviet, out to speak to the crowd, is booed. On the other hand, the highly-applauded Bolsheviks Trotsky and Zinoviev acclaim the slogan " all power to the soviets ". Moment of floating. We hesitate. Then an opportune downpour scatters the crowd. The commandos in charge of arresting the government failed: Kerensky escaped a little ; the other ministers are terrified.

Meanwhile, in Cronstadt, a delegation of machine-gunners and anarchists, including Maria Nikiforova , are calling for solidarity during an improvised meeting at the Place de l'Ancre. The leaders SR, Bolsheviks (Rochal) and anarcho-syndicalists (Yartchouk) try to temporize, explaining that the coup de force is premature [3], but they are whistled. Nothing can cool the sailors, who decide to walk the next day.

In the night, the Bolshevik Central Committee tries to decide. The insurrection is obviously launched, and the party's base is involved. But should we take Petrograd ? Is not this the risk of constituting a red island that will be stifled by the counter-revolution ? We dither. Nothing clear is decided.

Maria Spiridonova (1884-1941)
Heroine of the armed struggle against tsarism, she was, in 1917, the main leader of the left wing of the PSR.
The next morning, July 4, nearly 20,000 sailors armed to the teeth landed in Petrograd, accompanied by brass bands playing The International, aggregating tens of thousands of workers. At their head: Bleikhman, left SR Maria Spiridonova and Bolshevik Raskolnikov.

On the way, the crowd masses in front of the Bolshevik HQ, the Hotel Kchessinskaya, hoping for a speech by Lenin. The latter, who disapproves of the insurrection, bristles before showing himself on the balcony. He does so only to calm, disconcerting the Bolshevik adherents who do not understand why their leaders turn their backs on them.

The rest of the day is going to be as confusing as the day before. At the palace of Tauride, the crowd insults the Soviet: " Take power, son of a bitch, since you are given it ! " Shouts a sailor in the ears of the chief SR Chernov, who fails to get lynched.

The German Kaiser manipulates the insurgents !

The insurrection will not go further. The anarchists were only able to give an impulse, and the Bolshevik leadership did not wish to direct the course of events. For lack of objective, the crowd turns in circles, then finishes to disintegrate at the arrival of the loyal troops, in the early afternoon. These regiments hitherto remained neutral were convinced to intervene by sensational revelations of the Government of the German financing of the Bolshevik Party [4].

This is the beginning of a wave of repression against the extreme left: while the Loyalist armored cars patrol in Vyborg, the Bolsheviks and anarchists are ransacked ; they shut their newspapers ; search ; the " traitors to the revolution and to the nation " are imprisoned ; we disarm the units that have mutinied. The right-wing press exults. The time for recovery has come.

Guillaume Davranche (AL Montreuil)

In the folder:

February-March 1917: After the Tsarists, drive the capitalists
Minority but galvanized, anarchists advocate expropriation all the way
A tract of the Communist Anarchist Federation of Petrograd (March 1917)
The first libertarian wave (1905-1908)
April-May: The irrepressible rise to the social explosion
Anarcho-syndicalists in factory committees
June-July: Creating insurrection is not enough
The fiasco of the Journées de juillet
August-September: The counter-revolution digs its own tomb
The Other Components of Russian Socialism in 1917
October red (and black): The assault in the unknown
A Ukrainian revolutionary: Maroussia emerges from oblivion
November 1917-April 1918: From pluralism to the confiscated revolution . Four cleavage points:
People's Power vs. State Power
Socialization against nationalization
Popular militia against hierarchical army
On requisitions and expropriations
Epilogue 1918-1921: Resistance and eradication

[1] Orlando Figes, The Russian Revolution t.1, Gallimard, 2009, page 748

[2] Alexander Rabinovitch, Prelude to Revolution. The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 Uprising, Indiana University Press, 1968, p. 119.

[3] P. Gooderham, " The anarchist movement in Russia, 1905-1917 ", Bristol University, 1981, p. 250.

[4] This funding from the German government, if proven, seems to have been done mostly without the knowledge of the Bolshevik leaders (see Marc Ferro, La Revolution de 1917, Albin Michel, 1997, p. 517).

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