July 01, 2017

1917 Diary

The cold spring of 1917 (it even snowed on May 20) was followed by a hot summer. Over the course of just a few days in late June and early July, the political situation in Russia changed radically. The enthusiasm people had felt for the Provisional Government back in March had faded, at least among many. Alexander Kerensky, who was playing an increasingly prominent role in the government, later recalled the first days of July:

Trucks filled with mysterious armed men appeared on the streets of St. Petersburg. Some of these trucks went from barrack to barrack, urging soldiers to join the armed rebellion that was starting. Others drove around the city following me. One such band burst into the courtyard of the building where Minister-Chairman Prince Lvov lived just moments after I had driven away. And no sooner had my train pulled out of the station on its way to the front than another truck stormed into the station. Above the armed men flapped a red flag reading “The First Bullet is for Kerensky.”

On July 3 and 4 Petrograd was shaken by riots. For the rest of his life Kerensky firmly believed that these disturbances had been planned and instigated by the Bolsheviks. It now appears that the Bolsheviks merely took advantage of the general turmoil in their effort to seize power. They did not (yet) succeed. The Provisional Government, in which the main roles were now being played by like-minded “brother socialists” (albeit belonging to more moderate parties), ordered Lenin’s arrest. The hunt for him was not, however, particularly diligent, so he and his fellow Bolshevik and old friend Grigory Zinoviev were easily able to escape to the village of Razliv, not far from the capital. The role played by Nikolai Yemelyanov, who hid the revolutionaries in his attic and later in a hut a few kilometers from Razliv, is enthusiastically described by a fellow Leninist:

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