The Revolutionary Movement on the Eve of the War

Chapter XV

Poisoning of Working Women

The Growth of the Strike Movement – Strike on the Occasion of the Interpellation on the Lena Events – Poisoning of Women at the Provodnik Factor}' and at the Treugolnik – Interpellation Concerning the Treugolnik – The "Explanations" of the Government – Answer to the Government's Explanations– Protest Strike of 120,000 – The Lock-out – Demonstration at the Funeral – Purishkevich appeals for Executions

In March 1914, a number of events took place in St. Petersburg which called forth a remarkably strong outburst of the workers' movement. A number of political strikes broke out in St. Petersburg early in that month. The workers protested by one-day strikes against the persecution of the workers' press, the systematic rejection of our fraction's interpellations by the Duma, the persecution and suppression of trade unions and educational associations, etc. The movement spread all over the city and many works were involved. The workers also protested against a secret conference arranged by Rodzyanko, the Duma president, for the purpose of increasing armaments. Representatives from all the Duma fractions except the Trudoviks and Social-Democrats were invited, and when we denounced this fresh expenditure of the people's money on armaments we were supported by a strike of 30,000 workers.

Throughout March the movement continued to grow and it received a fresh impetus on the anniversary of the shooting of the Lena workers. The government had not answered our previous interpellation calling for an investigation, although it was passed by the Duma. In view of the impending anniversary, we decided to introduce a new interpellation calling upon the government to expedite its reply.

All Party organisations were preparing for the anniversary demonstration and conducting propaganda at all factories and works. A proclamation was issued by the St. Petersburg Committee calling upon the workers to demonstrate in the streets in support of the interpellation, and workers from a number of factories decided to proceed in a body to the State Duma.

The demonstration was fixed for March 13, and the strike began in the Vyborg district. At the Novy Aivaz works the night shift left off at 3 a.m. and in the morning they were joined by the other workers. The strike quickly spread through the city and over 60,000 men participated in the movement, 40,000 of whom were metal-workers. Resolutions of protest were carried at the factories and Party members from amongst the workers spoke reminding the workers of the Lena shootings and explaining the general tasks of the revolutionary struggle.

The workers came out of the factories and works singing revolutionary songs and unfurling their red flags. The Lessner workers advanced towards the Duma from the Vyborg direction but were held up by a police patrol on the Liteiny Bridge. Another crowd managed to cross the Neva on the ice and, carrying a red flag, proceeded towards the Duma buildings along the Voskresensky quay. There the demonstrators were attacked by mounted police who started to use their whips; the crowd replied with stones and one of the police was wounded. Encounters with the police also occurred in other parts of the city and demonstrations took place in the centre, along the Nevsky Prospect.

The strike was continued the next day, when several more factories joined in. More demonstrations took place involving over 65,000 workers.

This movement was immediately followed by another strike wave caused by the poisoning of working women in rubber factories. The new strike wave was considerably stronger than the previous one, both as to the number of strikers and the extent of the street actions.

Information as to the poisoning of women workers was first received by our fraction from the workers of the Provodnik goloshes factory, the biggest in Riga. The workers there were being systematically poisoned by the fumes given off by a low quality polish used for finishing off the goloshes. Some women were only slightly affected and recovered after a fainting fit and short illness, but there were some fatal cases. Working up to thirteen hours a day, for a beggarly maximum of seventy-five kopeks, undermined the workers' constitutions with the result that they were unable to withstand the poisonous fumes.

The women workers applied several times to the manager and to the factory inspector for improved working conditions and in particular requested that the use of the dangerous polish be discontinued. The reply of the authorities was that anyone who suffered from weak nerves could leave. Finally, after another outbreak, the workers at the Provodnik asked the fraction to help in forcing the administration to move in this matter.

We sent Malinovsky to Riga to investigate and, on the basis of the information which he collected, an interpellation to the Minister for Trade and Industry was drafted and introduced into the Duma. It began as follows:

Physical degeneration and frequent deaths of the workers are a common result of the capitalist exploitation of the proletariat. The political disfranchisement of the Russian workers and their weakness in the face of combinations of powerful capitalists who control all politicians in office, renders the condition of the working class worse than that of serfs. An example of these conditions was provided by the incidents at the Lena Goldfields, where workers were fed on horseflesh, evicted, turned out into the taiga and finally shot. And now a special investigation conducted at Riga by Malinovsky, a member of our fraction, has revealed a similar case of capitalist ruthlessness and similar passivity on the part of the authorities. The biggest industrial undertaking in Riga, the Provodnik rubber factory, which employs some 13,000 workers – mainly women – was the scene of this new tragedy....

We insisted that the interpellation was urgent, but before it could be placed on the Duma agenda, similar events had happened in St. Petersburg itself.

On March 12 I was called away from a meeting of the interpellation commission in the Duma to answer the telephone. There one of the workers who assisted our fraction told me hurriedly that the workers of the Treugolnik factory were asking for a deputy to call on them, numerous cases of poisoning having occurred and the workers being in a state of panic.

I at once went along to the factory and was met at the gates by a crowd of excited workers. They began firing questions at me, but as I knew nothing I tried to get them to tell me what had taken place. It was difficult, as each woman worker explained the poisoning in her own way, some even calling it a plague, and meanwhile patient after patient was being carried to the first-aid room.

After hearing several accounts I was able to gather what had taken place at the factory. That morning a new polish had been issued for goloshes, the main constituent of which was a poor substitute for benzine, which emitted poisonous gases. Shortly afterwards scores of women workers began to faint. Terrible scenes followed; in some cases the poisoning was so strong that the victims became insane, while in others blood ran from the nose and mouth. The small, badly equipped first-aid room was packed with bodies and fresh cases were taken into the dining-room, while all who were able to move were sent out of the factory. "If they drop down there, the police will pick them up" – so ran the cynical excuse of the management.

About 200 cases of poisoning (only twenty were men) occurred in a department employing about 1,000. Most of the 13,000 workers employed at the factory were women and they were exploited most callously. The earnings of a goloshes worker were from forty to ninety kopeks for a ten-hour day; there was no dinner interval and overtime was common, while the owners of the Treugolnik factory obtained a profit of ten million rubles a year.

Towards the end of the day some thousands of workers assembled in the courtyard of the factory and demanded that the management issue a statement as to the number of victims, their names and the causes of the disaster. Among the crowd were many relatives of the workers affected and all were in a state of great excitement. The management refused to give any information to the workers, but sent for the police. Whilst one of the workers was making a speech from the factory wall, the police arrived and drove the crowd out of the gates. The workers went home, anxious about the fate of relatives and indignant at the bosses who were poisoning people for the sake of making bigger profits.

On the following day fresh cases of poisoning occurred in another department of the factory and the first-aid room was again full of suffering women. The women workers protested that it was impossible to continue working in the poisonous atmosphere, but the manager callously replied: "This is nonsense, you must get used to such an atmosphere. We cannot discard that polish because of a few accidents, we must fulfil our contracts. You will get used to it."

After work a meeting attended by several thousand workers was held near the factory gates. Various suggestions were made, but before any decision could be taken, a strong police detachment arrived and began to disperse the crowd. Stones and pieces of concrete were thrown at the police and two were injured.

When further workers were taken ill on the next day, the patience of the workers reached its breaking point. They left work in all departments and streamed into the yard; without previous arrangements a strike was declared. About ten thousand strikers gathered around the factory gates and approving shouts interrupted the vehement speeches which were delivered. Whilst they were discussing the demands that should be presented to the management, the mounted police appeared and rode into the crowd flourishing their whips. The workers resisted and stones and bricks were thrown. Police reinforcements soon arrived and charged the crowd with drawn sabres, driving them in all directions and forcing some into the Obvodny Canal. There were casualties on both sides and many workers were arrested.

To avoid fresh disturbances, the management announced that the factory would be closed for several days and warned the workers that if further demonstrations occurred, the closing would be indefinite.

On my return from the factory I reported to a special meeting of the fraction, which decided to introduce another urgent interpellation combining this matter with the events at Riga which had previously been raised. However, on March 15, a message informed us of yet another case of poisoning, this time at the Bogdanov tobacco factory.

In Cabinet Street, where the factory is situated, I was met by about two thousand workers who had left their work in panic. I entered the factory gates and learned from the workers that the events there were very similar to those which had taken place at the Treugolnik. I went to the director of the factory to learn his explanation of the poisonings, but his reply was sheer mockery: "There is nothing to cause poisoning at this factory. The women are poisoned because they have been fasting and eating rotten fish. That accounts for the fainting fits." This made it evident that the management had already decided to shift the blame on to the workers themselves.

The next day I wrote a detailed account of my visit to the factory for Pravda and appealed to the workers: "In order to prevent these occurrences, the workers must be better organised and must set up their own trade union of tobacco workers." Many articles appeared in Pravda dealing with these poisonings, pointing out that this was only one of the results of the exploitation of the workers and drawing the necessary political conclusions.

Cases of poisoning continued to occur at other tobacco factories, printing offices, etc. Disease was rampant throughout St. Petersburg and the outbreak revealed the almost complete absence of medical aid at most St. Petersburg factories. No doctors or nurses were available, medicines were deficient and there was no room for the casualties.

Excited workers from the factories affected came to the fraction and requested us to visit their factories, to investigate the causes of the poisonings and to bring solace to the masses. I had to visit a number of works and met everywhere the same picture. The panic caused amongst the workers by the immediate danger of being poisoned was accompanied by a deep feeling of resentment against the bosses. While it was not possible to establish in all cases the real cause of the poisoning, it was evident to all the workers that the chief reason for the accidents was profiteering on the part of the employers, for the sake of which the most ordinary and simple rules of health and labour protection were ignored.

The widespread outbreak of poisoning among the workers had repercussions in all branches of society; bourgeois publicists could not remain silent. It was natural that they should endeavour to explain events in their own way and even seek to make capital out of them. The staunchest defenders of capitalism, such as the yellow Birzhevye Vyedomosty, fully supported the factory owners and declared that the true culprits were the revolutionary parties, which tried to set the workers against their employers and force them to strike. A calumny was circulated to the effect that a "committee of poisoners," operating under the orders of our Bolshevik fraction, was working to create disturbances among the workers. In a vain attempt to avoid its obvious responsibility for the illness of hundreds of women workers, the united bourgeoisie used all means, including the foulest, and set its machine of lying insinuations into motion.

Not even the tsarist government, however, ventured to endorse the lies of the bourgeois scribblers. The commission set up by the Ministry of Trade and Industry recognised that the "prime cause of illness among workers in the rubber industry is the inhaling of fumes from benzine while at work." Replying to our interpellation in the Duma, an official of the Ministry of Trade, Litvinov-Falinsky, was forced to admit that the poisonings were caused by benzine of bad quality and that these poisonings differed little from the nicotine poisonings at tobacco factories. With regard to the spread of the epidemic, Litvinov acknowledged that it was due to the stifling atmosphere in the factories, the weakness and exhaustion and strained nerves of the workers.. Litvinov, of course, did not forget to refer to mass psychosis and hysteria which, it was alleged, played an important part in the spread of the disease.

This debate took place in a very strained atmosphere. Everyone in the Duma knew that on the previous day mass strikes, in protest against the poisonings, had broken out in St. Petersburg. More than 30,000 workers were out and there had already been a number of demonstrations and encounters with the police. While the discussion was taking place in the Duma, more workers left the factories and joined the strikers. The workers of St. Petersburg were electrified and excited, and their excitement penetrated into the Taurida Palace, making the Duma Black Hundreds nervous. The Black Hundreds rightly interpreted our speeches at that moment as appeals to the workers for further action and they were afraid and wished to gag us.

After Rodzyanko had cut short the speech of the first speaker, Tuliakov, it was my turn to speak, but I was not allowed to remain long on my feet. My speech was continually interrupted by shouts from the benches on the Right and by warnings from the president, Rodzyanko, who at length chose an opportune moment and stopped me in the middle of a sentence. Finally the debate was adjourned to the following sitting.

Among the workers the ferment increased and on the following day nearly 120,000 were involved in the strike movement. Party cells had carried on preliminary' agitation at all factories and the police had endeavoured to forestall any action. Mass searches were made in the workers' districts and scores of workers were arrested. The secret police paid special attention to the leaders of trade unions and insurance societies who, in most cases, were active Party members. Despite this attempt to comb out all leaders, the movement assumed such dimensions that the police were unable to cope with it.

Demonstrations were held all over the city. The workers marched through the streets singing revolutionary songs; the police, both mounted and foot, flocked to the working-class districts and many collisions occurred. That day the secret police reported no less than thirteen big demonstrations in various parts of the city. During one encounter, when the crowd attempted to rescue a worker who had been arrested, the police drew their revolvers and fired on the crowd. A hand to hand fight followed and, despite a stubborn resistance, the police, armed with sabres and whips, finally gained the upper hand over the unarmed workers. Similar skirmishes took place in other districts and the demonstrations were distinguished by the determination and vigour of the workers.

The government and the capitalists sensed the threat behind this movement and at once passed to the counter-attack. On March 20 the Manufacturers' Association declared a lock-out which directly involved 70,000 workers. All the biggest works were closed and the Assistant Minister for the Navy ordered the Baltic shipyards to stop work. It was announced that the works would remain closed for a week and in the event of further strikes there would be mass dismissals. Police patrols were posted at all works.

The government promptly came to the assistance of the employers in this open war on the workers and suppressed the metal-workers' union in order to weaken the workers' resistance. By order of the city governor the activities of the union were suspended "pending a further decision," which meant until the St. Petersburg proletariat again succeeded in wresting from tsarism the right to restore their union to life. The offensive against the workers proceeded along the whole front.

The lock-out, which threw tens of thousands of workers on to the streets, caused a great deal of commotion among the St. Petersburg proletariat and some alarm in bourgeois circles. This alarm explains the decision of the municipal authorities to allocate 100,000 rubles for the organisation of soup kitchens for those out of work. It is characteristic that this decision was repealed as soon as the labour troubles were somewhat allayed, although there were as many unemployed in St. Petersburg as before.

Representatives from the factories and works involved called at our fraction headquarters and requested us to take measures to end the lock-out which doomed thousands of workers to starvation. The organised workers of the Narva district sent in the following resolution:

We regard the lock-out as a provocative challenge from the Manufacturers' Association. We call on the workers' deputies of the Social-Democratic Workers' Fraction to question the Minister of Trade and Industry and demand an answer within three days. We also propose that all employed workers lend monetary assistance to their comrades who are being victimised.

As in previous lock-outs, our fraction organised a collection on behalf of the dismissed workers. At the same time, through the columns of Pravda, we called on the workers of those factories where work had been stopped "for an indefinite period" to sue their employers for a fortnight's wages in lieu of discharge. Pravda warned the workers to watch carefully that the management did not insert in their pay-books the phrase "I have no further claims," which if signed inadvertently by the worker would prevent him obtaining justice.

On March 21, protest demonstrations were again held in the Narva district and several arrests were made. At the same time another demonstration in connection with the funeral of two workers, who were killed by an explosion at an electrical station, revealed the revolutionary enthusiasm of the St. Petersburg proletariat. More than 3,000 workers attended the funeral and many wreaths bearing revolutionary inscriptions were laid on the coffins.

Closely watched by the police, the workers walked eighteen kilometres from the Obukhov hospital to the Preobrazhensky cemetery. Detachments of mounted police were posted at the gates of every works on the route to prevent more workers joining the procession; nevertheless the crowd continually increased.

On the previous day, the workers had asked me to attend the funeral. I did so, and as the coffins were being lowered into the grave I began my speech. "New victims have been torn from the vast family of the St. Petersburg workers. What do the stony-hearted capitalists care?" A police inspector approached me and demanded that I should stop; I ignored him and continued: "Exhausting toil, noxious gases in the workshop, premature death, and on top of all this, lock-outs – such is the lot of the working class. Lately the victims claimed by capitalism have become more numerous. Explosions, poisonings...."

Before I could finish the sentence, the mounted police rode into the crowd and the whips began to hiss; the crowd was forced back, and left the cemetery singing the revolutionary funeral march. Several hundred workers returned by rail and, after singing revolutionary songs in the train, they raised me shoulder high at St. Petersburg station and carried me out into the square. Police arrived from all directions and quickly dispersed the crowd.

I hurried from the station to the Duma where I was due to take part in the postponed debate on the poisonings. But here too I was unable to finish my speech. Rodzyanko interrupted it just as the police inspector had done at the cemetery.

The Black Hundred majority had decided that no Social-Democratic deputy should be allowed to speak on that day. When, immediately after me, one of the "seven" protested against the calumny about the poisonings, Rodzyanko stopped him and with the approval of the Duma majority suspended him for two sessions. This created an uproar on the Left and all the members of the two Social-Democratic fractions demanded the right to speak to protest against this action. Rodzyanko, however, refused and, taking advantage of the late hour, closed the sitting.

A similar scene occurred during the next Duma sitting. Zamyslovsky, one of the most rabid of the Black Hundreds and a leader of pogroms, repeated the vile calumny about a "committee of poisoners."

Shouts of "Liar! agent-provocateur!" arose from the Left; Rodzyanko was powerless and unable to restore order. We continued to protest while the Rights applauded their leader and shouted threats at us.

Taking advantage of a lull in the riot, Rodzyanko suspended Chkheidze for two sessions and allowed Purishkevich to address the house. Purishkevich continued the provocation: "The Treugolnik and Provodnik factories have hitherto been regarded, so to speak, as 'Black Hundred'; it was difficult to persuade the workers there to strike, so the friends of those who sit there" – here Purishkevich waved his hand towards our benches – "resorted to those measures...." Shouts of "Get out," "Remove him," drowned the rest of the sentence. He continued: "Since this crime is unparalleled and strikes at the very foundation of stable government and social life, these gentry" – pointing to us – "should be tried by court martial and hanged."

Whilst any of our workers' deputies would undoubtedly have been suspended for using words much milder than these, Purishkevich was allowed to pour out what abuse he liked. He resumed his seat without the slightest remark from the president but amidst the jeers of the Left.

The whole episode had assumed such importance in St. Petersburg that even the Black Hundred Duma dared not reject our interpellation. But they defeated our proposal for a special parliamentary commission to inquire into the causes of the poisoning by an overwhelming majority, and turned the interpellation itself over to the general commission which had already had so much experience in burying the most urgent of Duma interpellations.

The fact that the Duma did not reject the motion unconditionally did not hamper the government or the employers in their general offensive against the workers. After keeping the workers unemployed for some time, the owners lifted the lock-out, but, when reinstating their employees, carefully sifted out all the “unreliable” and “troublesome” elements.

Chapter XVI

Obstruction in the Duma

Prosecution for a Duma Speech – Obstructing Goremykin – Suspension of the Left Deputies – Demonstrations and Strikes – The Counter-Offensive of the Black Hundreds – The Liquidators Support the Liberals – Declarations by the Three Fractions on the Termination of the Suspension – The Importance of the Duma Obstruction

The general political situation throughout Russia and, in particular, the situation within the labour movement, invariably determined the forms which the struggle inside the Duma would take. It is this consideration which gave special interest to the obstruction in the State Duma in April 1914, as a result of which all Social-Democrats and Trudoviks were suspended for fifteen sittings. The incidents which occurred in the Duma directly reflected the development of the working-class struggle, which, as often happens, temporarily rendered the liberal parties more radical. The whole episode, however, revealed another normal feature of liberal tactics. As soon as the Duma position became somewhat acute, the Liberal parties quietly dropped their opposition and resumed their place in the ranks of the counter-revolutionary Duma majority.

The immediate cause of the obstruction was the prosecution of Chkheidze for a speech made in the Duma. On the initiative of Maklakov, the Minister of the Interior, the Council of Ministers decided to prosecute Chkheidze for referring to the advantages of a republican regime. The tsarist government had frequently prosecuted deputies in court or by administrative order for activity outside the Duma, but this was the first case of prosecution for a speech delivered within the Duma itself. This was a direct attempt by the government to destroy freedom of speech from the Duma tribune, a freedom which was already restricted by the actions of the Black Hundred presidium. If it succeeded, it meant that the entire Left would be crushed.

The Liberal parties, the Cadets and the Progressives, were also alarmed by the prosecution of Chkheidze. They were not concerned with the fate of the Social-Democratic deputies, but regarded the event as an attack on the "constitutional guarantees" to which they clung as the principal achievement of the "emancipation struggle." Some Cadets, stimulated by the unrest in the country, even began to talk about refusing to vote the budget, whilst the Progressives introduced a bill on the immunity of deputies for speeches made in the Duma.

Rodzyanko at once took counter measures. After having consulted Goremykin, the newly appointed Premier, he arranged for a series of clauses to be introduced into the bill in committee which imposed still greater penalties for "abuse of freedom of speech." These clauses were particularly directed against the extreme Left and entirely destroyed the value of the rest of the bill. In fact it handed over the Social-Democrats and Trudoviks to the tender mercies of the government.

Since the Black Hundred Duma held up even this distorted version of the "freedom" of speech bill, the Social-Democratic fraction decided to introduce a motion proposing that all Duma work be suspended until the discussion and passing of the bill dealing with the immunity of deputies. This, however, was too drastic for the Liberals, and so they introduced another motion which proposed to postpone discussion of the budget until the bill was passed. This motion was, of course, defeated, somewhat to the relief of the Liberals themselves. The two Social-Democratic fractions and the Trudoviks, however, refused to surrender and planned to organise obstruction in the Duma to prevent discussion on the budget. In view of the rise of the revolutionary spirit in the country, such a demonstration within the Duma was of far greater importance than a dozen or two of the most radical speeches directed against the government.

The first budget debates coincided with the second anniversary of Pravda, when our Party organised "Labour Press Day." The demonstrations held by the St. Petersburg workers, the numerous resolutions received by the editors and the collections made for the Pravda "iron" fund, the wide circulation of the jubilee number of Pravda, of which 130,000 copies were sold, made us absolutely sure that our demonstration in the Duma would assist in the new forward movement of the masses and would be supported by the entire working class.

Before the opening of the sitting on April 22, the two Social-Democratic fractions and the Trudoviks introduced a resolution to postpone the budget discussion until after the freedom of speech bill had become law. The Duma listened impatiently to speeches from the representatives of the three fractions and then decided by a huge majority to start the debate on the budget immediately. During the speech of the representatives of the budget commission, the members of the three fractions left the hall to discuss their further action. We decided to return in time for the expected speech of Bark, the Minister of Finance, and to prevent him from speaking.

Instead of Bark, Goremykin, the new President of the Council of Ministers, made his way to the tribune. Goremykin, an elderly tsarist dignitary appointed in place of Kokovtsev, because the latter was considered too soft-hearted and liberal, was charged with the task of ruthlessly checking the revolutionary movement, which was daily becoming more menacing. Thus our plan of obstruction was more appropriate than we had hoped; it would now be directed against the head of the government and would be a demonstration against tsarism itself.

Goremykin had barely managed to begin, "Gentlemen, members of the State Duma," when pandemonium broke out on the benches of the Left, with shouts of "Freedom of speech for deputies" rising above the noise. Powerless to stop the noise, Rodzyanko apologised to Goremykin and proposed that the deputies concerned should be suspended for fifteen sittings. Goremykin then left the rostrum, which was ascended in turn by the offending deputies, each of whom, according to Duma regulations, had the right to speak in his own defence before being excluded. One by one they protested vehemently and members of our "six" seized the opportunity to hurl accusations at the government and to reveal the cowardice and impotence of the Liberals.

The suspensions followed one another rapidly and any defence which lasted too long was unceremoniously cut short by Rodzyanko. Some of the suspended deputies refused to leave the Duma hall; then the procedure was as follows. Rodzyanko adjourned the house and during the interval a military detachment entered the hall, the soldiers lined the barrier while the officer approached the suspended member and demanded his withdrawal. Only then, with the words "I submit to force," did the deputy leave the hall.

This use of force was unprecedented in the history of the Duma; the ministerial benches were full and all the ministers watched Rodzyanko's efficient work. After the removal of a deputy, the sitting was resumed and then the whole process was re-enacted. Finally, when all who had offended had been removed, Goremykin reappeared at the rostrum. Once again, however, he was unable to utter a word – the surviving members of the Left fractions resumed the obstruction. The Rights demanded "Suspend them all," and Rodzyanko again excused himself and the procedure of expulsion recommenced.

For the third time, Goremykin was greeted with the banging of desks and shouts from the Left, and it was only after every surviving member of the three fractions had been suspended and removed by force that the president of the Council of Ministers was able to begin his speech. He uttered a few incomprehensible words about mutual understandings, common work and the "regrettable incidents" which had just occurred and was then followed by the Minister of Finance, Bark. Freed from the "pernicious" speeches of the Left deputies, the Duma settled down to the discussion of the budget.

The behaviour of the Cadets and Progressives during these suspensions was typical of Liberals whose real allegiance was to the counter-revolution. But yesterday they had used high-sounding phrases about the struggle for freedom of speech, but, far from taking part in the obstruction, some even voted for Rodzyanko's motion of exclusion. It was true that some abstained from voting, but not one was bold enough to vote against. More than that, in their press the Cadets went so far as to defend the use of force because " was not simply brute, physical force, but the action of a disciplined body acting under the orders of the head of the institution representing the people." The Cadets openly revealed their abject flunkeyism towards tsarist autocracy and the Black Hundreds.

But the whole question of obstruction and our suspension was in no way decided by the attitude which the Liberals adopted towards it. As was the case in all our Duma work, the efficacy of our action depended on the support which we could muster among the workers. Though the Duma reflected to some extent the political struggles which occurred in the country, the question had ultimately to be settled at the factories and in the streets and not within the walls of the Taurida Palace.

Our fraction, together with other Party organisations, began to prepare workers' demonstrations in connection with the Duma events. Through trade unions, educational societies and other working-class organisations, in all of which strong Bolshevik cells existed, the movement was started. Foreseeing this development, the secret police redoubled their activities. Every member of the fraction was closely watched and the fraction's rooms were besieged by spies. In the evening of the day on which the deputies were suspended the secret police arrested six Party members, workers who had come to our rooms to discuss the question of organising strike action.

These arrests forced the fraction to take more precautions. Representatives of Party organisations were forbidden to visit the fraction and our work with Party cells was conducted in strict secrecy. We arranged with the comrades from the various organisations to meet at a concert in one of the halls where working-class concerts and lectures were usually held, and while there made the final arrangements for the protest-action.

The protest strike began on the day after the expulsions, April 23, and although only about 4,000 workers (mainly printers) left work, it was a beginning which flared up into a mass strike on the following day. On April 24 the number of strikers had swollen to 55,000 and these were joined by another 17,000 on the third and fourth days. The movement spread to Moscow where over 25,000 men left work. Everywhere the strikes were started at meetings, at which protest resolutions were adopted.

The Manufacturers' Association replied as usual by closing down all the big establishments. On April 24 sixteen large works were closed and about 25,000 workers discharged. The Manufacturers' Association, which was called the " lock-outers' association," thus revealed itself as an organisation for political as well as economic struggle against the workers. Work was resumed at most of the factories on April 29, but some employers prolonged the lock-out until May 2 in order to punish the workers in advance for the anticipated strike on May Day. The capitalists thought that they could destroy the revolutionary enthusiasm of the working class by starvation and unemployment, but this was not enough for the Black Hundreds, who called for ever more severe measures against the workers.

The reactionary Russkoye Znamya (Russian Banner) with cynical frankness proposed that wages should be reduced and that all representation of the workers, e.g. in the Duma or on insurance bodies, should be abolished. The Black Hundreds were forced to acknowledge the existence and growth of revolutionary feeling among the masses and they thought that the causes were to be found in the agitation carried on by the workers' press and in the activity of the Social-Democratic deputies. In a leading article on April 26, Russkoye Znamya wrote as follows:

Since the workers' press, which is entirely controlled by the Social-Democratic deputies, was incautiously allowed to develop, very close connections have been established between the deputies and the workers. A year ago the workers were almost unmoved by events in the Duma: Social-Democrats were excluded from meetings, their friends, escaped convicts, were rearrested and their premises searched, and yet the workers remained quiet. Now on the other hand, every speech in the Duma arouses a response among 200,000 organised workers. All live questions in working-class circles are immediately re-echoed from the Duma rostrum, whence the Social-Democrats censure the government and still further excite the ignorant masses. At the same time all utterances of the Social-Democratic deputies are taken up by the workers. The objectionable obstruction in the Duma organised by the Social-Democrats as a protest against their arrogance being curbed, entailed a mass strike which though only partially successful was of considerable extent. It is time to take stock of the position and consider the danger of this close connection between the cannon fodder and the trouble-makers.

Russkoye Znamya then proceeded to enumerate its proposals, such as deprivation of political rights and wage reductions, since in the words of the pogrom-makers "hunger does not lead to strikes; it is only the well-fed who engage in riots." The paper then drew the following conclusion:

Only in this way will calm be restored. It will then not be necessary to have cavalry regiments galloping about St. Petersburg to maintain order in the streets every time the Social-Democrats make a demonstration in the Duma.

It will be noticed that the Black Hundreds correctly estimated the importance of the ties which bound the workers' deputies to the masses. The existence of these ties was amply demonstrated by the support which our activity received from the workers of St. Petersburg, Moscow and other cities.

Whilst our fraction and the two others which took part in the obstruction received from all quarters messages of approval and support, the Cadets were forced to invent all sorts of excuses for their behaviour in order to placate their constituents. The most outspoken representative of the Right Cadets, Maklakov,* the deputy for Moscow, complained bitterly that he was obliged to go to Moscow and explain why he did not vote against the exclusion of the Left deputies. He said: "A new movement of protest is sweeping the countryside which ignores our party and which regards the lawful channels of protest as discredited." Milyukov, the leader of the Cadets, supported him: "If it is true that revolutionary tendencies are growing, then it is very regrettable." The only object of the Liberals was to hold back the revolution; even in their speeches against the government their chief argument was that the government's policy was stimulating and provoking the revolution.

* Not to be confused with the Minister for the Interior – a brother of the deputy.

It was at this moment, when the Cadets and their allies, the Progressives, were showing their hands so cynically, that the Liquidators broached the question of joint action with the Liberals. In their press they wrote that the proletariat would be only too willing to work with the progressive bourgeois parties. Having analysed the situation they attempted once again to foist on the working class their policy of "freedom of association for the workers." The Menshevik Severnaya Rabochoya Gazeta (Northern Workers' News) wrote: "The questions of liberty of speech in the Duma and of the immunity of deputies have become the most vital in the political life of the country. These questions are closely associated with the fundamental demands which were formulated in August 1912" (the August Bloc).

This standpoint was directly opposed by Pravda on the grounds that the question of freedom of speech in the Duma, etc., was not of fundamental importance for the workers and that the Duma could only serve as one of the means of strengthening the revolutionary struggle. Pravda wrote:

The Liberals were fresh from the crime of assisting Messrs. Rodzyanko and Purishkevich in their attack on the Social-Democrats and Trudoviks when they received offers of collaboration from the Liquidators. Such offers at this time are gravely prejudicial to the interests of the working-class movement. The slogan of the moment is not collaboration with the bourgeoisie but forward with the revolution despite the hesitations and betrayals of the bourgeoisie. The Liquidators may obtain joint action with the bourgeoisie inside the Duma, but it is outside that we must seek the true policy.... The working class also accepts "joint action," but on a basis which is rejected both by Liberals and Liquidators.

The attitude of the Mensheviks to the wave of strikes which spread over St. Petersburg when the Left deputies were expelled from the Duma, was characteristic of their fear of any mass action. Confronted with the possibility of revolutionary developments, they completely lost their heads and attempted to hold back the movement.

A secret police report reproduces the minutes of a meeting of the Menshevik fraction on April 25, at which, in the presence of Dan, the question of strikes and demonstrations in St. Petersburg was discussed. At the meeting several members expressed the opinion that "it was necessary to thank the workers for their support and ask them to postpone the strike until May 1." The resolution adopted by the fraction was framed in that spirit, stating that "it was necessary to refrain from striking now in order to act with increased vigour on May 1."

The same report contains further accounts of meetings of the "seven," giving many examples of vacillations and waverings within the Menshevik fraction itself. The strength and extent of the revolutionary revival had its effect on individual Mensheviks. According to the police report, Chkhenkeli argued that "the fraction should discard its old tactics of purely parliamentary work and its old slogan of 'preserve the Duma at all costs' and pass on to more revolutionary work." This argument, however, met with no support from the other members of the "seven." Chkheidze, opposing Chkhenkeli, called on fraction members "to keep their heads cool during these difficult times and endeavour to achieve something within the limits imposed by the law."

There is no need to state that such damping down of the strike movement during a period of revolutionary enthusiasm could only be harmful. The influence of the Mensheviks, however, weakened considerably at this time and they were powerless to prevent the spread of the movement. Eighty thousand workers participated in the protest strike against the exclusion of the Left deputies, creating a powerful impression throughout the country.

Whilst the Left deputies were absent from the Duma, the Liberals spoke against the government and introduced motions condemning it, but they were in no way able to delay the passing of the budget, which was approved in its entirety by the Duma majority. This quiet atmosphere delighted the government and all the ministers endeavoured to have the estimates of their departments passed before the suspended deputies returned. According to newspaper reports the Ecclesiastical Department was particularly anxious; one of their chiefs said: "They will return from their enforced absence more enraged than ever – they will bite."

Meanwhile the deputies of the three Left fractions discussed the tactics that should be followed when they returned to the Duma. Proposals were made to continue the obstruction, to delay debates by making very long speeches and, on the other hand, to regard the conflict as finished and to resume the usual Duma work. Finally the deputies of all the fractions agreed to make a joint statement on their return and to have it read in the Duma.

The statement was drafted and adopted at a joint meeting of the three fractions. Despite our precautions we discovered later that Rodzyanko was informed by the secret police of the text. Hence when the deputies returned to the Duma on May 7 Rodzyanko was in the chair and determined to prevent the reading of the statement. But we also were prepared. We had arranged for a number of speakers, so that if Kerensky, who was entrusted with the reading of the statement, was stopped, another speaker could continue. A prolonged struggle ensued between the president and the Left fractions, but in the end the whole of the statement was read.

Thus the return of the suspended deputies to the Duma was, with the involuntary assistance of Rodzyanko, transformed into a fresh demonstration against the government and brought to the notice of the whole country.

The April events in the State Duma and the mass response which they aroused from the workers played an important part in the subsequent strengthening and development of the revolutionary movement. The effects were immediately visible in the First of May demonstration, which in 1914 far excelled those of previous years. In St. Petersburg 250,000 workers struck, in Moscow about 50,000, whilst First of May strikes were organised and carried out with exceptional enthusiasm in provincial cities where the labour movement had hitherto been relatively weak. Everything pointed to the fact that the working class was preparing to enter into a decisive struggle with tsarism. The admission of Purishkevich, the greatest enemy of the revolution, is significant. Speaking in the Duma on May 2, with the impression of the May Day strikes fresh in his mind, he said:

We are witnessing remarkable scenes; we are passing through a period strikingly similar to 1904. If we are not blind we must see that despite certain differences there is much in common between what is happening now and what took place in 1904. We must draw the necessary conclusions.

This time it was not the workers' deputies but Purishkevich himself, the leader of the Black Hundreds, who spoke of the approach of a new revolutionary year. This itself demonstrates the intensity of the revolutionary movement among the working class.

Although the main provisions of the budget had already been sanctioned before the deputies returned, we managed to participate in the later stages of the debate. Every time we spoke we dealt not only with the particular estimate under discussion, but with the entire policy of the tsarist government. At the request of the fraction, I spoke on the estimates of the Ministry of Education, which at that time were arousing great public interest.

Kasso, the new Minister of Education, had initiated a number of repressive measures, driving out professors from the universities, arresting and banishing students; he had even arrested a number of juveniles from secondary schools for taking part in very harmless circles. My speech was based to a large extent on material sent by Lenin from Cracow. It was a damning exposure of these measures and at the same time it dealt with the hypocrisy of the "remedies" proposed by the Cadets and other liberal parties.

Chapter XVII

Roman Malinovsky

Malinovsky Leaves the Duma – The Fraction Appeals to the Workers – Malinovsky, agent-provocateur – Malinovsky and the Secret Police – Arrest of Sverdlov and Stalin – Why Malinovsky left the Duma – Malinovsky's Trial

During the afternoon of the day after the return to the Duma of the suspended deputies, Malinovsky entered Rodzyanko's office, threw a document on the table and said: "Good-bye."

Rodzyanko asked what this meant, and Malinovsky answered: "Read that – you will see for yourself," adding hurriedly that he had resigned and was going abroad.

Muranov, the only member of our fraction present in the Duma at the time, at once communicated with the fraction, but by the time we had met in the fraction's rooms, Rodzyanko had already read Malinovsky's statement of resignation in the Duma.

Malinovsky's resignation came as a bolt from the blue; until then there had been no hint that he contemplated any such action. The resignation of his seat without the consent of the Party and without making any statement to the Party was such a flagrant and extraordinary breach of Party discipline that we could not imagine the cause.

The fraction instructed Comrade Petrovsky to call on Malinovsky and demand that he come immediately to the fraction and explain his action. Malinovsky refused, stating that he was too excited to be able to give any explanations at the moment. We at once sent Petrovsky back to insist on Malinovsky's presence. He refused the second time and, in a state of great excitement bordering on insanity, shouted: "Try me, do whatever you please, but I won't speak," and at the same time declared that he was leaving the country that evening.

All other attempts to obtain an explanation from Malinovsky proved futile and letters sent to him by the fraction and Comrade Kamenev were only handed to him just before the train left.

Malinovsky's desertion from the Duma and his sudden flight from St. Petersburg placed our fraction in a difficult position. This action, in itself treacherous to the Party and the workers' struggle, supplied a weapon to our enemies. Statements were issued, sensational in character, alleging; that something serious was wrong in our Party. Slanderous insinuations and lying rumours were circulated about the Party and the fraction.

At that time nothing authentic was known about Malinovsky's real activities, but all sorts of rumours and gossip were spread by bourgeois parties and Liquidators with the obvious object of damaging the reputation of our entire fraction. It was necessary to clear up the case and the fraction decided to place all its information at the disposal of the workers.

We published in Pravda a full statement setting out in detail all the facts known to the fraction. A precise chronological account was given of all the steps taken by the fraction to elucidate the causes and attendant circumstances of Malinovsky's behaviour. The fraction had no facts on which to base any accusation against Malinovsky, but it violently and uncompromisingly condemned his undisciplined action. The statement concluded:

At the time of his election, Malinovsky asserted that he consented to stand at the request of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. This statement bound him to work in a disciplined way within the Party. Class-conscious workers understand the necessity of strictly maintaining this principle in the struggle against all bourgeois parties. In contravention of this principle Malinovsky resigned his mandate as a deputy without consulting the leading Party committees or his own immediate organisation, the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Fraction. Such action is inadmissible and as an anarchic breach of discipline deserves thorough condemnation; it is no better than the action of a sentry deserting his post. Malinovsky's statement that he did not consider his responsibility when embarking on this course does not in any way mitigate his offence. He has placed himself outside our ranks. The Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Fraction invites all class-conscious workers to endorse this decision in order to render impossible repetitions of such action among the organised proletariat in the future.

The masses reacted to Malinovsky's desertion in the way that we expected. Telegrams, greetings and resolutions began to pour into the fraction and Pravda, condemning Malinovsky's treachery and expressing full confidence in the work of our fraction. The temporary damage done by Malinovsky's desertion was made good by the way in which the advanced organised workers rallied to our support. Our fraction, now reduced to five, re-formed its ranks and continued its work in the revolutionary struggle both from the Duma rostrum and outside.

No true explanation for Malinovsky's action was forthcoming at that time. We explained it by certain traits in his character, nervous tension, hot-headedness and lack of balance, which he had often displayed in his dealings with his associates. It was only after the revolution that the true motives actuating his behaviour were fully revealed, when the archives of the police department showed that Malinovsky had acted as an agent-provocateur. The material then made public and his subsequent trial provide us with the complete history of his treason.

Malinovsky began his career as an agent-provocateur in 1910, when he was enrolled as an agent of the Moscow secret police under the name of Portnoi. He had settled in Moscow after being expelled from St. Petersburg and, although there are some grounds for believing that he had had dealings with the secret police before, it was in Moscow that his real work as an agent-provocateur commenced.

He offered his services to the police after he had been arrested with a group of Party workers, and immediately became a very active and important secret agent. Malinovsky was a very capable and intelligent man and succeeded in penetrating very deeply into Party organisations. He appeared at all meetings, attended workers' clubs, trade unions, etc., and actively participated in organisational work. For a long time he maintained relations with both Mensheviks and Bolsheviks and betrayed both to the secret police. He was responsible for the arrest of Party workers and for the destruction of entire organisations, and supplied the police with particulars about meetings which had been arranged, the real and assumed names of Party comrades who were living in illegality, the names of the members of leading Party committees, addresses where literature was stored, in fact, all features of Party life.

His activities resulted in the arrest in Moscow of the Russian collegium of the Central Committee and the conciliatory group "Vozrozhdenie" headed by Comrade Milyutin. Information supplied by him resulted in the break-up of the newly formed Bolshevik centre in Tula when some leading comrades were arrested.

In order to safeguard Malinovsky from exposure, the police used to arrest him together with others present at an illegal meeting, but after a few days he would be released while the others were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment or exile. Sometimes, for the sake of precaution, the secret police would release all those arrested and then re-arrest all but Malinovsky in the course of a couple of weeks.

Owing to his cleverness and undoubted talents, Malinovsky soon made his name in Party circles. Even earlier in St. Petersburg, he had shown himself a capable and forceful worker in the trade union movement. From 1906 to 1909, he was secretary of the St. Petersburg Metal-Workers' Trade Union, one of the biggest and most progressive unions. This alone shows his organising ability and his power to gain the confidence of the workers.

Malinovsky was exceedingly ambitious and exerted himself to ensure his election to the State Duma; his popularity made it easy for him to be nominated as candidate. But he was also guided by other motives. Byeletsky, the Director of the secret police department, in his evidence on the Malinovsky case (Byeletsky was arrested after the revolution and subsequently shot), stated that Malinovsky in trying to enter the Duma reckoned on strengthening his position with the secret police and thereby raising the salary which they paid him. Malinovsky had begun to delight in his treacherous work and was preparing to extend it on a much larger scale.

Malinovsky impressed on the secret police how convenient it would be for them to have their own "informer" in the Duma. Needless to say, the police were soon persuaded and the question was discussed by the highest police officials; the project received the blessing of Makarov, the then Minister of the Interior. Code messages were sent to Moscow by Byeletsky and his notorious assistant, Vissarionov, instructing the Moscow secret police to facilitate Malinovsky's election.

The first obstacle to be tackled was the fact that Malinovsky had been arrested several times on criminal charges. According to the law, a person who had been condemned on a criminal charge was disqualified from being elected to the Duma. With the help of the secret police, Malinovsky went to his native district in Poland and by bribery obtained a false certificate declaring that he had never been convicted.

The second difficulty was that it was necessary for the candidate to have worked at his factory for six months prior to the election. Malinovsky was employed in a small factory near Moscow, and a few weeks before the election, when he had not quite completed six months' service, he quarrelled with the foreman and was under threat of dismissal. Thereupon the police arrested the foreman and kept him in prison until after the elections. Nevertheless Malinovsky was dismissed from the factory and had to bribe a clerk to give him a certificate that he was "on leave." Thus, with the help of the secret police, the way was clear for his election.

After his election to the Duma, Malinovsky became one of the most important agents of the police, and was tutored in his new duties by Byeletsky himself. The St. Petersburg secret police referred to him as "X" in their documents and paid him a salary of 500 rubles a month, later raised to 700 with additional amounts for special information. A telephone was installed in his apartment at the expense of the police and all his conversations with Byeletsky were conducted in code. He used to meet Byeletsky and his assistant Vissarionov in a private room at some restaurant. There Byeletsky, as he stated during the trial, would ask a list of questions drawn up beforehand and his assistant wrote down Malinovsky's answers. Arrests, searches and deportations followed, although great care was taken not to compromise Malinovsky. When the police department decided in February 1913 to arrest Comrade Rozmirovich, Malinovsky advised that the arrest should be made in Kiev, and when a month later her arrest aroused suspicions in the foreign centre, she was released at his request.*

* The police finally dealt with Comrade Rozmirovich in April 1914, when she was arrested together with Comrades Samoylova and Kudelli at an editorial meeting of Rabotnitsa (The Woman Worker).

The information which he supplied was particularly valuable because he was well informed about the underground work of the Party as well as the work of the Duma fraction. He regularly related to the police everything which took place at the editorial offices of Pravda. He gave full particulars about the persons who attended meetings there, the decisions reached and the financial state of the paper. This enabled Byeletsky to arrange for fines, confiscations of issues, etc., at times which were most critical for the paper. He also supplied lists of all persons contributing to funds for the support of Pravda and the names of subscribers. These lists were of great assistance to the police when repressive measures were decided upon.

Malinovsky's oratorical powers made him one of the frequent speakers of our fraction. But a careful analysis of his speeches reveals the fact that the blunt revolutionary content characteristic of the speeches of our workers' deputies was absent. Whereas the other workers' deputies deliberately accentuated their speeches, sticking at nothing, Malinovsky always tried to work round the dangerous passages, to avoid in one way or another the revolutionary presentation of the question and took great pains to make his speeches innocuous so as to deprive them of that revolutionary content which the Party insisted should be present in all speeches of our fraction members. When he addressed open-air meetings, he arranged with the police department that police agents should be present who would cut short his speech when he reached an agreed passage. Such was the case on the important occasion when he addressed the Congress of Clerical Workers in Moscow.

Although while he was in the Duma his main activities were confined to St. Petersburg, he did not entirely break his connections with the Moscow secret police. During his visits to Moscow, each of which entailed new arrests of revolutionary workers, he supplied information to the police and received a special remuneration.

In St. Petersburg, Malinovsky informed Byeletsky of the meetings of the fraction, the ideas and plans of the deputies, the routes of their journeys and their impressions of local conditions. On the basis of information transmitted from the police department, the local police were able to break up meetings arranged by the visiting deputy. On one occasion, Malinovsky even allowed Byeletsky to inspect the fraction's documents and files and to copy passages which interested him.

Byeletsky also referred in his evidence to an occasion when Malinovsky delivered to the police the larger part of a consignment of illegal literature which only reached St. Petersburg after great difficulty.

Fear of exposing the agent-provocateur caused the secret police to be very cautious in arresting Party comrades who worked in close touch with Malinovsky, but when Sverdlov and Stalin returned to St. Petersburg, the police department demanded that he should help to arrange their arrest.

Sverdlov was arrested in the following circumstances. He had escaped from exile and was hiding in my apartment; the police had begun to watch for him, acting on information supplied by Malinovsky. One day the dzornik (janitor) came to see me and, after describing Sverdlov, asked whether he was not in my apartment. Of course I replied that there were no strangers with me, but we decided that it was no longer safe for Sverdlov to stay there and that he ought to leave at once. As soon as it became dark, Malinovsky and I went out and seeing that there was no one about we lit cigarettes; on this agreed signal, Sverdlov went out into the courtyard at the back. We helped him climb over a wall and then across a timber yard over another wall and out on to the embankment where a droshky was waiting. We then went to Malinovsky's room and later Sverdlov went to stay with Petrovsky. But he was arrested there the same night. It turned out that Malinovsky, who had been showing so much concern for Sverdlov's safety, had phoned the address of his new refuge to the police.

At about the same time, Malinovsky betrayed Stalin in a similar way. Stalin had recently made one of his periodic escapes from exile and was in hiding, not venturing into the streets. The police knew that he had returned and were waiting for him to appear in order to rearrest him. A concert had been arranged in the Kalashnikov hall for the benefit of the funds for Pravda. Such concerts were usually attended by sympathisers among the intellectuals and Party members who seized the opportunity, while among the crowd, of meeting and talking to people whom it was inadvisable to meet openly. Stalin decided to attend the concert and Malinovsky, who was aware of this, informed the police department, with the result that Stalin was rearrested there and then.

These two arrests show the depths to which Malinovsky had descended. He betrayed into the hands of the police the most prominent Party workers who had only recently escaped from exile after great difficulty and suffering.

Relations between Malinovsky and the rest of the fraction were strained from the first. During discussions he often became hysterical or lost his temper over quite unimportant questions. The other members of the fraction objected to such conduct on his part and this led to constant friction and conflicts. One such scene occurred in the fraction a few days before he left the Duma. When the fraction was discussing what action it would take in reply to its exclusion for fifteen sittings, Malinovsky insisted on the necessity of leaving the Duma completely and of appealing to the masses for revolutionary action. There is no doubt that this plan was of a provocative nature and the fraction quite rightly rejected it. But it must be assumed that in advocating such a form of protest, Malinovsky was also preparing the ground for his own withdrawal from the Duma, since, as it became known afterwards, it was at this time that the police department decided to dispense with his services. In the winter of 1913-14, changes took place in the Ministry of the Interior. The notorious General Junkovsky, formerly governor-general of Moscow, was appointed Assistant Minister in charge of the police and gendarmerie. This appointment led to changes in the personnel of the police department; Junkovsky appointed his own men instead of Byeletsky and his assistant, Vissarianov, and decided to get rid of Malinovsky.

In his evidence, Junkovsky stated that he could not tolerate the "nuisance" of an agent of the police acting as a deputy in the State Duma. This explanation is not to be believed; it is much more likely that Malinovsky's activity as a member of our fraction had become more than the police dared allow. It is also possible that the usual departmental jealousy was responsible for his dismissal. The new officials very often tried to discredit their predecessors and suggest to the public that they were instituting a new and much better policy.

By order of Junkovsky, the chief of the secret police department called on Malinovsky to leave the Duma and proceed abroad immediately. Before leaving he received a final payment of 6,000 rubles from the police. The only person in the Duma who knew the true cause of Malinovsky's resignation was Rodzyanko. According to his own words, somebody rang him up on the telephone on the morning of the day when the suspended deputies were to return to the Duma, and informed him of the text of their intended declaration. Rodzyanko decided to investigate the matter further and was informed by Junkovsky that Malinovsky was a police spy and that it had been decided to get rid of him. So Rodzyanko, while knowing the truth, kept it secret from the Duma.

Malinovsky then completely disappeared from the sight of the Party and public. At the beginning of the war he was conscripted and soon afterwards taken prisoner by the Germans. He returned to Russia after the revolution and was arrested.

On November 5, 1918, Malinovsky was tried in Moscow by the Revolutionary Tribunal. Numerous witnesses, including the chiefs of the tsarist police (Byeletsky, Vissarianov, Junkovsky, Makarov and others), and volumes of documents from the archives of the secret police, established the history of his treachery. His life was one long string of crimes. His intelligence and abilities were placed at the disposal of the highest bidder to the detriment of the working-class movement.

At the trial, when his activity as agent-provocateur was fully revealed, Malinovsky was, of course, unable to deny his crimes. He chose another method of defence. He alleged that he was forced to become an agent-provocateur because he was already completely in the hands of the police. He represented his career as agent-provocateur as a long martyrdom, accompanied by suffering and remorse, from which he could not escape. But at the same time, in contradiction to that theory, he confessed: "...I could not agree to the first proposal not because I felt any repugnance – I did not feel the slightest – but simply because I did not want, and did not see any possibility of being able, to play the double role required."

But when the police threatened him with revelations of his criminal past he at once consented to serve them: "Now the question was settled, I no longer hesitated and felt no remorse."

Throughout his trial, as throughout his whole career, Malinovsky lied. He tried to prove that he left the Duma of his own free will, because of his personal unhappiness, and that he obtained permission from the police to quit politics. "...The circumstances of the case are immaterial; what is important is that I obtained Byeletsky's permission to leave.... I told Junkovsky that I was leaving on account of new conditions which for moral and other reasons made it impossible for me to continue the work."

But we know now the real reasons of his resignation and we know that when Byeletsky was removed, Malinovsky begged him to help him re-establish his connections with the police department. The lies in Malinovsky’s evidence were as deliberate as the whole pose he adopted, a pose of sincere repentance while admitting the gravity of his crimes. He said that he expected nothing but the death penalty, although, in saying this, Malinovsky undoubtedly imagined that this attitude would gain him some measure of indulgence. His voluntary return to Russia after the revolution was the last desperate throw of a gambler. The revolutionary court did not forgive him for his crimes against the working class; he was condemned to be shot.

Malinovsky will be remembered as one of the most active agents-provocateurs, who was able to do enormous harm to the revolutionary cause. There is, however, another aspect of his activities which shows that they were harmful to tsarism itself. In his second role as a member of the Bolshevik fraction, Malinovsky was forced to deliver revolutionary speeches from the Duma tribune and to play his part in our agitational campaigns. These activities inevitably produced the results which we desired and the tsarist government was forced to bring grist to the mill of revolution.

V. I. Lenin described the situation in which the police were placed by Malinovsky's activity in the following way:

It is obvious that by helping to elect an agent-provocateur to the Duma and by removing, for that purpose, all the competitors of the Bolshevik candidate, the secret police were guided by a vulgar conception of Bolshevism, or rather, a distorted caricature of Bolshevism. They imagined that the Bolsheviks would "arrange an armed insurrection." In order to keep all the threads of this coming insurrection in their hands, they thought it worth while departing from their own standpoint and having Malinovsky elected both to the Duma and to our Central Committee.

But when the police achieved both these aims they found that Malinovsky was transformed into a link of the long and solid chain connecting in various ways our legal base with the two chief organs by which the party influenced the masses, namely Pravda and the Duma fraction. The agent-provocateur had to protect both these organs in order to justify his vocation.

Both these organs were under our immediate guidance. Zinoviev and myself wrote daily to Pravda and its policy was entirely determined by the resolutions of the Party. Our influence over forty to sixty thousand workers was thus secured. The same applies to the Duma fraction, particularly to Muranov, Petrovsky and Badayev, who worked more and more independently of Malinovsky, strengthened their connections with and extended their influence over the workers.

Malinovsky could and did ruin individuals, but he could neither hold back nor control the growth of the Party nor in any way affect the increase of its importance to the masses, its influence over hundreds of thousands of workers (through strikes, which increased after April 1912, etc.). I should not be at all surprised if the secret police used the following argument for Malinovsky's removal from the Duma: that Malinovsky had turned out to be too closely involved with the Duma fraction and with Pravda, which were carrying on their revolutionary work among the masses much too energetically to be tolerated by the police.

This estimate of the objective part played by Malinovsky in no way tones down, but brands still more definitely, the personality of the traitor.

Chapter XVIII

The Strike Movement in the Summer of 1914

Strike at the Izhorsky Works – Strikes in the Provinces – Struggle of the Baku Workers – Nicholas II sends a "Peacemaker" – St. Petersburg Workers Hit Back – A Visit to Maklakov, Minister for the Interior

The State Duma rose for the summer recess in June 1914, after the budget had been successfully piloted through all its stages. The session, which was the last before the war, closed during a period of a rising tide of the working-class movement throughout the country.

After the formidable demonstrations on May 1, arrangements were made for a protest strike in connection with the sentences passed on the Obukhov workers. When the first trial took place in November 1913, strikes had broken out in St. Petersburg, and now when the case was again taken in May 1914, the court condemned the Obukhov workers to two months' imprisonment for taking part in strikes. Over 100,000 workers responded to the call for a protest strike, which aroused as much enthusiasm as the May Day movement.

The next political strike of the St. Petersburg workers was caused by the trial of the defending counsel in the Beilis* case at Kiev, and the death sentence passed on a worker charged with the murder of the shop manager of the pipe-works. This strike, which occurred early in June, embraced 30,000 workers.

* Beilis – a Jewish clerk who, on the strength of some faked evidence concocted by the Black Hundreds, was tried on a charge of a ritual murder and acquitted by the jury. – Ed.

At the same time, stubborn economic struggles were being waged continually at one or another of the many St. Petersburg factories or works. One of the most prolonged of these strikes took place at the Izhorsky Works, which were controlled by the Navy Department. The movement started in the electric power station where the workers presented several economic demands; when a number of these workers were dismissed, the strike spread to the other shops, where the workers demanded a rise in wages, the eight-hour day, etc. The strike was under the leadership of our St. Petersburg Committee and, at the request of the strikers, I went to Kolpino to meet a gathering of delegates. The meeting took place at night in the cemetery and it was decided to hold firm as long as possible.

The strike caused considerable anxiety at the Naval Department. A detachment of cossacks was sent to Kolpino and quartered in barracks next to the works so as to be in readiness "to maintain order."

The next day I again went to the works and found the workers highly incensed and indignant over the calling out of the cossacks. At the meeting which followed tempers ran high and the determination to win the fight despite dismissals and other possible forms of repression was strengthened. Party organisations assisted in the preparation and distribution of leaflets enumerating the economic demands and also calling for the dismissal of the chief manager. The management of the works attempted to prevent the distribution of leaflets and sent round officials who tore the leaflets out of the workers' hands. Naturally this only made the workers more hostile.

The Izhorsky strike lasted three weeks and ended when the management promised to raise the rates of pay and to grant several other concessions. I have dwelt on this strike in order to illustrate the normal course of an economic strike during this period of revolutionary enthusiasm. The close contact between the workers and the Bolshevik Party organisations and the action of the workers under Bolshevik leadership on the one hand, and the calling out of armed forces for the suppression of the strikers on the other, are typical of the circumstances in which the workers' economic struggles were being conducted at that time.

This development of the struggle was not confined to St. Petersburg. The example set by the St. Petersburg proletariat served as a spur to the labour movement throughout the country. Strikes, both economic and political, spread from one city to another. The workers in provincial towns acted in an organised way unseen before and their persistence in the struggle revealed a high degree of class-consciousness. Consequently the strikes, although nearly always connected with definite economic demands, contained elements related to the political struggle.

A prolonged dispute arose during May in the textile industry in the Moscow district. The movement originated in the Kostroma Gubernia and quickly spread to the neighbouring Gubernias of Moscow and Vladimir, involving nearly 100,000 workers.

This was an extraordinarily large number of textile workers, who worked in small mills far removed from each other. The chief demand was for higher rates of pay, but amongst other things the strikers demanded the organisation of libraries where they could read Pravda, Prosvyeshchenye, Voprosy Strakhovania (Insurance Questions) and other newspapers and magazines.

The Bolshevik fraction led the strike and supported the textile workers by all the means at their disposal. Shagov, who was elected from the Kostroma Gubernia, toured the district as soon as the Duma session closed, calling on the workers to continue the struggle and opposing all talk of surrender to the employers. Shagov's journey was made in conditions that were now customary for workers' deputies. Everywhere he went he was accompanied by police spies, who forced their way into houses which he visited and arrested workers with whom he spoke.

The strike lasted into the summer, and thanks to the sound organisation and stubbornness of the workers, forced the employers to make a number of concessions including higher wages. The workers had chosen the right moment for the struggle as the employers were accumulating stocks for the forthcoming fair at Nizhni-Novgorod.

At the same time that the textile strike was being waged in the Moscow district, events were taking place in the far south, in Baku, which were of great importance for the entire working-class movement. The Baku strike, which was distinguished by its long duration and by the exceptional means adopted by the capitalists and the tsarist government to suppress it, gave rise to the historic action of the St. Petersburg workers on the eve of the war.

The strike at the Baku oilfields did not occur spontaneously; it was the result of careful preparation for several months. Workers' committees composed of delegates from the workers of all the big firms drew up beforehand, in consultation with Party organisations, the details of wage demands and other questions connected with the workers' conditions.

The immediate cause of the strike was an outbreak of plague in the district adjoining the oilfields. The menace of this terrible disease at once brought to the front the question of the disgusting housing conditions of the Baku workers. Prominent scientists who investigated conditions at Baku testified that they had never seen such conditions, not even in India – the permanent home of plague.

The question of housing had repeatedly been raised before and, remembering previous strikes, the oil magnates had often promised to commence the building of properly fitted houses. But when the workers' movement flagged they at once forgot their promises.

Immediately after the outbreak of plague in May 1914, the oilworkers' trade union raised the housing question with the owners' association. The association declined to move in the matter and at the same time many of the workers were arrested. Strikes at once started in several districts and soon became general. About 50,000 workers were involved, fighting under a strike committee closely connected with the Party, which issued manifestos, organised the collection of a strike fund and took other necessary steps. The workers presented a long list of demands containing more than sixty points of which the following were the most important: higher rates of pay, better housing and food, the abolition of premiums, compulsory primary education, the organisation of medical aid, etc. On some jobs the workers demanded the eight-hour day and the official recognition of May 1 as a workers' holiday.

The fact that the demands included several which were of a political nature was the result of the considerable influence exercised by our Party organisations. The demand for the abolition of premiums deserves special attention. The very fact that the workers protested against this system of degrading sops, by means of which the employers kept in hand the working masses, testified to a high degree of class-consciousness in the Baku workers. In spite of the racial differences among the workers – there were Russians, Armenians, Persians and Tartars – there was almost 100 per cent, solidarity in this fight with the capitalists.

The oil magnates flatly rejected all the demands and decided to resort to extreme measures to break the strike. When the strikers did not return within the time limit fixed by the employers, they were all discharged; their passports were handed over to the police and they were ordered to leave the miserable rooms which they occupied. The courts hastened to the assistance of the employers and issued eviction orders against the workers who lived in the oilfields. The authorities stuck at nothing; beds were carried out of the workers' barracks, stoves were broken, the electric light and water supply cut off.

The police were as active as the owners. Baku was transformed into a military camp and the usual garrison was replaced by six squadrons of cossacks, prepared to fight the "internal enemy." The trade union was smashed, all active members arrested and all workers' meetings forbidden. Martial law was proclaimed and no one was allowed to appear in the streets after 8 p.m.

At the end of June the Baku workers organised a demonstration in which over 20,000 people participated. Carrying posters stating the workers' demands, the demonstrators marched towards the headquarters of the oilowners' association. As the police were unable to cope with the crowd, they called out the cossacks who surrounded and dispersed the workers. About a hundred workers were driven into a courtyard and arrested. There were already several hundred prisoners in the central prison; the cells were full and the prison yard was packed with workers. It is significant that the city governor warned the owners that they had no right to discuss, much less grant, such non-economic demands as the establishment of factory committees, the May 1 holiday, universal education, etc. But this warning was quite unnecessary; the owners had no intention of making the least concession.

As the strike developed it aroused the interest of the whole country. The employers and the tsarist government on the one hand, and the working class on the other, eagerly watched the progress of the struggle. The shortage of oil, the production of which had almost entirely ceased, began to alarm a number of industrial organisations, particularly the shipowners, who were confronted with the necessity of laying up ships.

The tsarist government decided that the measures taken by the local authorities were too mild and the Assistant Minister for the Interior, General Junkovsky, was sent to Baku by special order of the tsar. He was given full powers and was accompanied by the head of the police department.

On his arrival, the repressive measures increased. He forbade the newspapers to refer to the strike, enforced the censorship of all telegrams referring to the strike, inquired into the destination of all money sent to Baku and confiscated all sums destined for the strikers. In short, Junkovsky, a worthy head of the tsarist police, "pacified" to the utmost extent of his power. The tsarist government was definitely allied with the oil magnates in the attempt to break down the stubborn resistance of the Baku workers.

These measures did not fail to excite the indignation of all the Russian workers and above all of the St. Petersburg proletariat. The Baku workers appealed to the Duma fraction for assistance and we organised a demonstration in St. Petersburg to help the strikers.

In a report to the director of the police department, the secret police described fairly correctly the work of our Party in organising the sympathetic action of the St. Petersburg workers:

The outbreak of the strike in the Baku oilfields quite accidentally (?) coincided with an intensification of the activity of revolutionary underground circles which were then attempting to rouse the interest of the workers in the forthcoming International Socialist Congress to be held the following autumn. Seeing in the strike a pretext for carrying on agitation and inciting the workers to disturbances, the representatives of the socialist parties hastened to seize the opportunity to develop their organisations in preparation for the election of delegates to the congress.

Later the report refers to the agitation conducted at this time:

In addition to regular bulletins of a frankly seditious character published in the legal Social-Democratic press, the leaders of the underground organisations issued instructions that the nature and significance of the Baku strike should be discussed at all workers’ meetings. It was hoped, by describing the conditions of the workers under the present regime, to rouse revolutionary feeling in working-class circles and to interest the workers in the ideal of world socialism.

Close watch has revealed that the chief agents of this work are Badayev, member of the Social-Democratic Duma fraction, and various party members who are associated with and guided by him.

The above-mentioned deputy and persons associated with him organise workers' meetings outside the town under the guise of scientific excursions. At these meetings, the aims and tasks of the forthcoming socialist congress are thoroughly examined, the Baku strike is discussed, and the desirability of establishing solidarity among the different groups of workers is urged, to take the form of both moral and material assistance.

Assistance to the Baku workers was soon forthcoming in the shape of large collections which were forwarded to our fraction. At a number of factories the workers gave a definite percentage of their wages and Pravda printed as a regular feature the list of moneys received and at the same time appealed for increased subscriptions. The authorities as well as the advanced workers realised that the appeal for further help was a form of revolutionary agitation.

As the revolutionary temper among the St. Petersburg workers continued to rise, an attempt was made to prevent the collection of funds for the Baku workers. The city governor of St. Petersburg issued an order prohibiting the collection of funds "for objects contrary to the maintenance of public order and peace, such as the support of strikers, exiles, the payment of fines imposed by the authorities, etc., by any means whatsoever." At the same time he forbade the publication of advertisements and appeals for such funds in the newspapers and threatened a fine of 500 rubles or imprisonment up to three months for any offence against this order.

Thus the city governors of Baku and St. Petersburg acted in complete accord; the former confiscated all money which arrived for the strikers, while the latter endeavoured to prevent any being sent. Pravda published the city governor's order prominently on the front page and then immediately beneath it stated in large print my address and the hours when I received visitors, i.e. money for the strikers. The collections did not cease but, on the contrary, increased considerably; the order served as a signal for renewed efforts on behalf of the Baku workers.

Within a couple of days I sent off another fifteen hundred rubles with the following telegram which was published in Pravda.

In the name of the St. Petersburg proletariat, I congratulate the heroic proletariat of Baku on the unanimity and perseverance they are displaying in their struggle. The workers of St. Petersburg are watching your fight with great interest and sympathy.

The telegraphic reply received by the paper from the Baku strike committee conveyed the comradely thanks of the Baku proletariat to the workers of St. Petersburg for their material and moral help.

Every day of the Baku strike witnessed an extension of the campaign in St. Petersburg. News of evictions, deportations and arrests of strikers led the St. Petersburg workers to organise protest strikes during the latter days of June. The movement started slowly at first and only affected a few enterprises, but all our Party organisations threw themselves energetically into the work of extending the movement and preparing for mass action.

But the secret police were also active; numerous arrests were made and a campaign inaugurated against all workers' societies. They first turned their attention to workers' educational societies and began by smashing the organisation located in the Sampsonievsky Prospect. About forty people – mainly Party members – were arrested on the premises. The police paid almost daily visits to other societies, searching and sometimes arresting those present.

After these raids, I demanded an interview with Maklakov, the Minister of the Interior. I had already a number of matters which I wanted to discuss with the Minister, such as the arrests, exiles, rough-handling by the police, etc. I was informed that Maklakov was ready to receive me the next morning.

The Minister's house in Fontanka was closely watched by uniformed and plain-clothes policemen, both inside and outside. I passed through the ranks of the police into the Minister's room. Maklakov, a relatively young tsarist dignitary, was a nominee of the empress and he tried hard to justify the confidence placed in him. He had already made all preparations for the destruction of working-class organisations and flatly refused to release the persons arrested during the raid on the Sampsonievsky Society, where he alleged an illegal library had been discovered. When I insisted that the reckless activities of the police should be restricted, he answered with generalities.

"We swore allegiance to and are now serving his majesty just as you are keeping the oath which you swore to your Party," said Maklakov, "and we are taking all measures necessary to fight the revolutionary movement."

He then decided to show how well informed he was of everything our organisation was doing. "I am aware that you are conducting underground work, printing and distributing leaflets," and opening a drawer of his desk, he produced a newly printed manifesto.

The manifesto had been drafted a couple of days before in my apartment and had been printed the previous night. Obviously Maklakov, in preparation for this interview, had ordered the secret police to supply him with some tangible evidence of our illegal activities. He wanted to prove that nothing could escape the vigilant eye of the secret police, and the manifesto was probably obtained from Ignatiev, an agent-provocateur who had helped in the printing of the leaflet.

Without showing in the least that I recognised the leaflet, I decided that no useful purpose would be served by continuing the conversation. On leaving, I said: "We shall not talk to you in a study, nor from the tribune; the working class will settle the question in the streets in a direct struggle against the present regime."

In spite of Maklakov's boasts and the mobilisation of the police, the government was unable to hold back the development of the revolutionary movement, which in the course of a few weeks grew to unparalleled dimensions.


Chapter XIX


The Shooting of Putilov Workers – At the Works – Interview with Junkovsky – "The Union of the Russian People" asks for Blood – Barricades in St. Petersburg

From the beginning of July, the strike movement at St. Petersburg factories and works grew rapidly. On July 1, the workers of the Langesippen, Lessner, Ericson, Siemens-Schuckert, Aivaz and other factories left work. Before leaving the factories, meetings were held and resolutions of protest passed against the persecution of the Baku workers. "Comrades of Baku," declared the St. Petersburg workers, "we are with you, and your victory will be our victory." At several other establishments the workers did not declare a strike, but left work an hour earlier and arranged meetings and collections for the Baku workers.

Twelve thousand persons attended the meeting arranged by the Putilov workers in the factory yard. But as soon as the first speaker had said two words, cries of "police" were heard and the meeting was broken up before any resolution could be passed. Two days later, the Putilov workers again assembled for a meeting in connection with the Baku events and this meeting gave rise to incidents which marked a turning-point in the July movement in St. Petersburg.

The Putilov workers left work two hours before the end of the working-day and about 12,000 workers attended the meeting. Two speakers described the conditions of the Baku workers and called on the workers to contribute in aid of the strikers and to declare a one-day protest strike.

At the close of the meeting the workers approached the gates and demanded that they be opened. But when they were opened, it was not to let the workers out but to allow the mounted and foot police in. Then the gates were again closed and the police, who had been concealed near the factory, called upon the crowd to disperse, although this was of course impossible with the gates closed. The workers protested and in reply the police fired a volley. With shouts of: "To the barricades," the crowd rushed to one end of the yard and from thence threw stones at the police. The police fired a second round and then began to arrest one man after another, amidst the cries of the wounded.

According to the statement of the workers, two men were killed, about fifty wounded and more than a hundred taken to the police station. As soon as I was informed of the shooting, I went to the works. A crowd of workers told me of the shooting, the use of sabres and whips and of the arrests; but no one knew the precise number of casualties. As is usual on such occasions, the most varied rumours circulated through the crowd, but all were unanimous in their indignation at the action of the police.

I applied to the works management for definite information, but all those I spoke to were afraid to commit themselves and tried to avoid all conversation. The scared medical assistant at the hospital declared that he had seen nothing and that no killed or wounded had been brought in. After repeated questions to various workers, I finally succeeded in obtaining the facts.

From the works I went to the police station to inquire into the fate of those arrested. A dozen fully armed police officers crowded the pristav's* room and listened with surprise to the insistence with which I demanded an immediate reply to a number of questions. I asked who had ordered the shooting of unarmed workers, how many had been killed and how many arrested, and on what charge.

* Police officer in charge of a ward. – Ed.

The pristav replied that he was under no obligation to give explanations to strangers and that no one had the right to interfere with the actions of the police. When I showed him my deputy's card he was rather at a loss, and rang up the city governor, who gave strict orders that no information should be given to me.

Then the police officers pushed me out of the station and refused to allow me to speak with the arrested workers. It was obvious that the workers had been cruelly beaten; many were lying on the floor too weak to stand or sit.

I went to the Pravda offices for my usual night's work with my mind full of impressions of the incident, the suffering of the wounded, the overbearing attitude of the police and the panic and indignation among the workers. There I reported on all I had seen and we drew up a brief report for the paper. At the same time we informed the editors of the Liquidationist paper Den (The Day), who used the same press.

Next day Pravda appeared with a full account of the incidents and a short note explaining their significance. The material appeared in the space usually occupied by the leading article.

During the night I telephoned to the Ministry of the Interior and asked to be received on the question of the Putilov incident. Maklakov was out of town and his assistant, Junkovsky, sent me a message saying that he would see me the next morning at his home at 8 o'clock.

A few minutes after the appointed hour, I arrived at his home in Sergeyevskaya Street. "I am late," I began, "because during the whole night I have had to deal with your raiders on Trudovaya Pravda." This excuse at once made the general feel uncomfortable.

"Of course you have no time, you are always at the factories inciting the workers to strike. I am surprised that you were allowed to enter the Putilov works. You are a deputy of the State Duma, your business is to legislate – that is why you were elected – but instead you spend your time at the workshops, hatching plots, issuing leaflets and publishing a newspaper which incites its readers to criminal acts." He pointed to the latest number of Trudovaya Pravda which was lying on the table and went on: "I have ordered a special commission for immediately prosecuting you and the newspaper."

"It is not the first time I have been prosecuted under one or other of your laws," I replied, "and I know you are able to do it, but I am here now for another purpose. Tell me what right the police had to fire on the Putilov workers; I shall report your answer to the workers at the other St. Petersburg factories and works."

"No shots were fired there," he rapped out, "the police fired two rounds of blank cartridges."

We both rose and stood facing each other across the table. "We shall not allow the workers to stone the police," he went on, "the police have rifles and sabres and in the future in similar circumstances they will shoot. That is why they are armed."

"I did not expect any other answer from our Ministers," I replied, "I shall inform the workers. You cannot prevent me going to the factories. A deputy elected by the workers will never confine himself to speeches in the Duma while the workers are being beaten up in your police stations."

I abruptly put an end to the interview and left the chief of the tsar's firing-squads.

An account of my interview with Junkovsky was published in Pravda; the number was confiscated. But in its next issue, Pravda again printed it; we were determined that the workers should know that the shots fired at the Putilov works were not accidental but part of the repressive measures that the tsarist government were bent on putting into execution.

The news of the shooting at the Putilov works made a tremendous impression on the St. Petersburg workers. Their indignation was as great as that caused by the news of the Lena shootings. The secret police, who put everything down to "criminal agitation," reported that "the publication of articles in the workers' press on the shooting of Putilov workers has made an impression on the masses which is exceptional in its intensity and effects."

The police endeavoured to localise the conflagration. All copies of Pravda containing news of the shootings were confiscated although no legal order had been issued. This occurred not only in the streets; searches were made at the homes of all newsvendors who lived in the Narva district. The police took every copy of Pravda that they could lay their hands on.

The Black Hundreds scented the danger and called on the police to do their duty to the tsar and the fatherland and stamp out all signs of the revolutionary movement. The organ of the “Union of the Russian People,” the Russkoye Znamya, hysterically called for blood in an article entitled "Badayev to the Gallows."

On the day after the shootings, strikes broke out all over St. Petersburg; no less than 70,000 left work. The workers of the Winkler Works declared in their resolution: "On hearing the news of this new blood-bath, we determined not to start work but to reply by a strike. Our indignation is beyond words and we are resolved not to tolerate this sort of thing any longer...." The next day, Pravda was full of such resolutions and the streets were crowded with demonstrators. The strikers marched round to the other factories calling on their comrades to join the movement and the demonstrations grew like snowballs.

The demonstrations in the Moscow district of St. Petersburg were particularly stormy; all the works and factories were closed and the workers came out on the streets. All inns and government vodka stores were closed at the demand of the workers and all shops had to shut down because the assistants left their work to join the demonstrators. About midday, an enormous crowd marched towards the Putilov works singing revolutionary songs, a red flag being carried before the crowd.

At the Putilov railway siding the crowd was met by the police, who fired several volleys; the demonstrators did not disperse, but replied with stones. After a struggle lasting some fifteen minutes the police were put to flight, as they had fired their last cartridges. Four workers were wounded and taken to hospital.

Another clash occurred in the Vyborg district. A big demonstration headed by the Aivaz workers was marching along the Sampsonievsky Prospect towards the centre of the city when the police attempted to bar their route. Shots were fired and stones thrown, but fortunately no one was injured and the crowd was forced back into the side streets. Smaller encounters with the police took place throughout the day in all quarters of the city.

Late in the evening of the same day, the St, Petersburg Committee of the Party discussed the further plan of action. Our task was to solidify the independent action of the workers and to transform it into a powerful, organised movement. We decided to continue the mass strike for another three days and to organise new demonstrations, first on the Vyborg side. A big demonstration was fixed for July 7, the day when Poincare, the President of the French Republic, was due to arrive in St. Petersburg.

Formerly we had issued appeals to support the Baku strikers; now the principal motive of the movement was the protest against the shooting of workers in St. Petersburg. In order to establish a general plan of action we arranged a meeting of delegates from the factories, near the Porokhovye station outside the city. A password was given to the delegates and guides were appointed to conduct anyone using it through the forest to the meeting place.

On July 5, the demonstrations and clashes with the police were repeated, but no shots were fired although the police made free use of their sabres and whips. As July 6 was a Sunday no big demonstrations were held, but preparations were made in the working-class districts for the mass action which had been fixed for the following day.

On the morning of July 7 the city looked as it had done during 1905. With very few exceptions, factories and works were closed and about 130,000 workers were on strike. The workers poured into the streets and the police patrols were totally unable to control them; they could only manage to prevent any demonstration on the Nevsky Prospect. In order to avoid any "scandal" in the presence of the French President, huge police forces were concentrated there to prevent the workers reaching the centre of the city. The movement was not confined to mere demonstration. The normal traffic was interrupted; tramcars were stopped and passengers forced to alight, and the controls were removed. Workers filled the cars and prevented them from moving. Later in the day the men at one of the tramway depots joined the strikers.

The workers again closed all the government vodka shops and beer-houses, in some cases smashing bottles and pouring away the beer. Even the bourgeois papers subsequently referred to the absolute sobriety that prevailed in those days in the working-class districts. Taught by the experience of the preceding days, the police did not venture to use firearms, but attacked scattered isolated groups and individuals with whips and sabres. The workers had lost all fear of the police; they put up a vigorous fight against the police brutality, and many hand-to-hand fights took place.

The same evening the city governor and the Minister of the Interior had an urgent consultation on the events of the day and decided to take strong measures. The next morning the city governor issued a proclamation warning the population of the consequences of these disorders and reproducing, in effect, the famous order issued by Trepov in 1905: "Spare no cartridges."

In spite of this there were no signs of slackening and the movement continued to grow during the following days until July 12. The number of strikers increased to 150,000, and on July 9 barricades were seen in the streets of St. Petersburg. Tramcars, barrels, poles, etc., served as material for the construction of barricades which were built mainly in the Vyborg district. All traffic was interrupted and in many areas the workers had complete control of the streets.

The July movement of 1914 was interrupted by the declaration of the war. Although the strikes had stopped two days before war was declared on July 17 (old style) the patriotic demonstrations had already started and the task of the police was easier. At the same time, the manufacturers who had declared lock-outs were now prepared to make concessions in expectation of war orders and profits.

It is quite possible that in any case the July demonstrations would not have led to the decisive point of the revolutionary struggle, but that moment could not have been long delayed. It would have arrived with the next turn in the revolutionary tide, which would have quickly followed the ebb after July. But that moment was postponed by the war for almost two-and-half years. Although separated by the war years, July 1914 and February 1917 are directly linked together in the general development of the revolutionary movement.

Chapter XX


Pravda's Place in the Revolutionary Movement – Pravda and the Duma Fraction – The Day to Day Struggle with the Police – The Interpellation on Pravda in the Duma – Pravda Raided

Pravda played an extremely important role in the development of the revolutionary movement before the war and, from the moment of its foundation, was one of the chief means of conducting our Party work. The editors and the workers concerned in the printing and distribution of the paper became directly engaged in the organisation of the masses. Every revolutionary worker considered it his duty to obtain and read his Bolshevik newspaper every day, despite all the difficulties which might arise. Every copy was passed from hand to hand and read by scores of workers. The paper gave expression to their class-consciousness, educated and organised them.

The popularity of Pravda among the workers can be explained by the fact that it consistently followed a firm Bolshevik policy and, unlike the opportunist Liquidationist press (Luch and other papers), it always stated the problems in simple, straightforward language. Whereas the circulation of Luch never exceeded a maximum of 16,000 copies, that of Pravda reached 40,000 a day. A similar relation in the degree of support among the workers was visible in the amounts brought in by the collections which were made on behalf of the papers. Pravda was started on the money of the workers and supported throughout by workers' subscriptions, but the Liquidators published their paper mainly on big donations given by individuals in sympathy with the Mensheviks. In 1913, Pravda received no less than 2,180 contributions from workers' groups while Luch during that period only received 660. The following year (until May) Pravda received 2,873 and Luch 671.

In connection with every political event, every battle of the working class, workers sent letters, resolutions and reports to Pravda. We were unable to publish all this material on the four pages of the paper, even in its enlarged form, and much could not be printed for censorship reasons. The workers bluntly expressed their opinions of the tsarist regime and their willingness to engage in revolutionary struggle against it and, when the editors decided to take the risk and publish such correspondence, the paper was invariably fined and confiscated. As this was such a common occurrence, the workers provided for it in advance by requesting: "In case the paper is confiscated, please publish our news once more in the following number."

Pravda maintained its close contact with the workers also through the numerous visitors to the editorial offices, which became an important centre for organisational work. Meetings between delegates from local Party cells were held there, information was received from factories and workshops and from there instructions and the arrangements about secret meeting-places were taken back to the districts.

The tsarist secret police were well aware that the Bolshevik Pravda was a very dangerous enemy to the regime. Although, owing to the growing revolutionary temper of the St. Petersburg workers, the police hesitated two years before deciding to crush Pravda, they continually worried it with minor persecutions designed to reduce its power. Throughout the existence of the paper, every issue appeared after a struggle, every article after a fight. Arrests, fines, confiscation and raids – the police gave us no rest.

The Party created its newspaper under extremely difficult conditions and the Central Committee attached enormous importance to its part in the revolutionary movement. The group of comrades who were responsible for it were assisted in their difficult work by the Bolshevik fraction in the Duma. Pravda and the fraction worked hand in hand and only with the aid of the paper was the fraction able to carry out the tasks assigned to it by the Party and the revolutionary movement. We used the Duma rostrum to speak to the masses over the heads of the parliamentarians of various shades. But this was only rendered possible by the existence of our workers' press, as the so-called liberal newspapers devoted only a few lines to our speeches and sometimes passed them over in silence. Had there been no workers' Bolshevik paper, our speeches would not have been known of outside the walls of the Taurida Palace.

This was not the only assistance which we received from Pravda. At the editorial offices we met delegates from the St, Petersburg factories and works, discussed various questions and obtained information from them. In short, Pravda was a centre around which revolutionary workers could gather and which provided the support for the work of the fraction in the Duma.

From the moment that the fraction was formed it made newspaper work one of its chief tasks. Immediately the Fourth Duma opened, the Bolshevik "six" published the following appeal in Pravda:

Being absolutely convinced that Pravda will carry out the task of welding together the forces of the proletariat during the present period, we appeal to you, comrades, to support it, distribute it and supply it with material. No doubt Pravda has its shortcomings, like any new paper which has not had the time or experience to gain strength, but the only way to remedy this is to support it regularly.

When I was charged by the Party with the task of attending to the issue of Pravda I addressed the following message to the St. Petersburg workers:

A workers' deputy and a workers' newspaper serve the same cause. There must be the closest co-operation between the two; that is why, comrades, I consider it my duty to take the most active part in bringing out our workers' newspaper, Pravda. Comrades! by our own efforts, with our hard-earned pence, we have created the first workers' daily in Russia. We, the workers of St. Petersburg, took a leading part in this work. But it is not enough to found a newspaper, we must strengthen it, and to put it securely on its feet a great deal has to be done. Every worker must become a regular reader and every reader must recruit other regular readers. We must organise collections for Pravda and ensure that it is distributed as widely as possible. Comrades! Let us all work together to build up the paper which serves the cause of Labour.

But in addition to organising support for Pravda and arranging for the means to continue its publication, I had also to struggle against the continual persecution of the police. We were constantly fighting against the confiscation of the paper and had to resort to the most varied subterfuges in order that the issue of any particular day should reach its readers.

To comply with the law a copy of the newspaper was sent from the printing shop to the Press Committee at the same time as the paper was issued for sale. As the Committee usually issued an order immediately for the confiscation of the issue we had to utilise the short interval between the dispatch of the paper from the printing shop and its receipt by the Committee for the distribution to our vendors.

Representatives from factories and works gathered in the courtyard outside of the printing office in the early dawn ready to receive the paper straight from the press and dash off to their districts. Later the police became familiar with our manoeuvres and the printing establishment was surrounded with spies and the neighbouring streets filled with detachments of mounted and foot police. Often, in contravention of the law, the officials of the Press Committee came to the printshop and confiscated the paper as it came off the presses. Then we attempted to conceal a few bundles of the paper in the attic or on the staircase in order to smuggle out at least a few copies after the police had gone.

The "immunity" which I enjoyed as a member of the State Duma somewhat facilitated our task in this constant struggle with the authorities, but, needless to say, it in no way insured either my comrades or myself from police persecution and legal prosecution. The investigating magistrates accumulated case after case against me and, when they considered that a favourable moment had arrived, they presented their bill – I was prosecuted several times in respect of the newspaper. The government did not venture to arrest workers' deputies, but during the proceedings tried to involve other more vulnerable people.

Many times I was asked: "Who edits the newspaper Pravda?" And every court official received the same stereotyped answer: "The name of the editor is printed in each copy of the paper and the collaborators are thousands of St. Petersburg workers."

In May 1913, Pravda was closed down and a few days later appeared under the new title of Pravda Truda. This very obvious camouflage was resorted to on many other occasions; the editors had a supply of titles all containing the word Pravda: Za Pravduy, Proletarskaya Pravda, Severnaya Pravda and Put Pravdy* followed one after the other. The secret police lost no opportunity of suppressing Pravda, yet our work was so well organised that the St. Petersburg workers were rarely without their daily newspaper.

* The English translation of the above titles in the order as they are printed, reads: Pravda (Truth) of Labour; For Pravda; Proletarian Pravda; Northern Pravda; The Path of Pravda. – Ed.

Not the least of our difficulties was the lack of funds. The main source of money was the regular collections made among the workers at factories and works, but we sometimes received material help from individual persons who were in sympathy with the workers' revolutionary movement, including Maxim Gorky, who helped us whenever he could. Gorky was a regular contributor to all Bolshevik publications and he not only lent material support himself, but took steps to procure funds for the paper from others.

When he returned from abroad, Gorky settled in Finland, not far from St. Petersburg, and I visited him there in the summer of 1913. His help was needed both in regard to the paper and in relation to other Party work and I went to see him at the request of the Party Centre, taking care not to compromise him and subject him to fresh police persecution.

Gorky overwhelmed me with questions concerning Party life, the state of the revolutionary movement, the underground work, the activity of the Duma fraction, etc., and displayed an enormous interest in all the details of the struggle. He was particularly insistent in all matters which concerned work in the factories and I was unable to keep pace with the rate at which he poured out questions. With regard to the particular request, Gorky promised to do all in his power and devoted much time to helping us to obtain the necessary connections and means for the publication of Pravda.

Incensed by the tenacity of Pravda, the police became ruthless and ignored all legal formalities. Although they had no orders of confiscation, they arrested newsvendors, took away bundles of Pravda, and did not even trouble to get a retrospective decision of the Press Committee to legalise their actions.

At the end of February 1914, a police detachment under the command of a high official, but without any order, raided the editorial offices late at night. Locks were wrenched off the doors, everything was turned upside down and manuscripts and correspondence thrown into a heap in the middle of the floor. I was informed of the raid by telephone and at once ran to the offices and remonstrated with the police about the illegality of the search. But, as I no longer figured as the official editor of the paper, the officer replied: "Why do you interfere? You are a stranger in this office, it does not concern you."

"It certainly does. I am a workers' deputy, and this is a workers' paper. We are serving the same cause," was my reply.

The police concluded their search and took away all the material that they wanted. On the following day I made another protest to the Minister responsible, but it was ineffective; the Minister and the police were working hand in glove.

At this time, the government introduced a new press law into the State Duma, designed to take away the last vestiges of the "freedom" conquered in 1905. The police raids on Pravda were a foretaste of the intention of this law. The fraction framed an interpellation dealing with the illegal confiscation of Pravda and on March 4 I spoke in support of the urgency of the interpellation. I dealt with the general conditions of the workers' press throughout Russia and my speech amounted to an appeal to all workers to rally to the defence of Pravda. The Black Hundred majority rejected our motion, but my speech attained its object – the workers heard our call; both the amount of collections and the number of subscribers to Pravda increased daily.

Pravda was indispensable during the July days of 1914. Full reports of the development of the struggle were published every day and the editors were in constant touch with the strike committees, helping them and organising collections in aid of the strikers. As a consequence the police persecutions increased, fines, confiscations and arrests became more frequent and day and night the offices were besieged by spies and by every variety of policemen. Every number was in danger and was only saved from the police with the greatest difficulty. We had to argue as to whether such or such an article of the law rendered the newspaper liable. I spent much time at the editorial offices helping the editors and I always carried with me copies of the relevant statutes so as to be able to confront the police officials with the actual text.

When the revolutionary movement in St. Petersburg had reached the stage where the workers were constructing barricades, the government decided to act. The secret police were instructed that our organisations must be smashed and the revolutionary movement deprived of its principal weapon, the press.

This time the raid on the newspaper was planned to take place at a moment when the principal visitors to Pravda as well as the whole editorial board could be arrested. The police descended on the offices just after dusk on July 8, when the work was in full swing and the workers had just arrived from the districts with their correspondence and the workshop collections and on other kinds of Party or trade union business. I at once went to the offices and found the building surrounded by police. After forcing my way through with some difficulty, I saw the place was in complete disorder, police officials were ransacking all drawers and cupboards and all the collaborators of the paper together with the visitors had been arrested and bundled into one room. I was not allowed to reach them and had to talk through an open door.

I at once protested against the search and the arrests and said that I would raise the matter in the State Duma. The police rang up their superiors and, on being told to proceed without ceremony, they ordered me to leave the place at once. I persisted, but they forced me out, and drew up the usual charge against me for interfering with the actions of the police.

This ransacking of Pravda was the signal for a series of attacks on labour organisations. During the few days just before the declaration of war the police destroyed all working-class papers, educational and trade union organisations. Mass arrests were made in St. Petersburg and batches of prisoners exiled to the northern provinces and Siberia.

The war brought still more stringent police measures and the Party was forced completely underground. Our fraction often discussed the question of resuming the publication of a workers' newspaper and the matter was on the agenda of the November Conference when the whole of the Duma fraction of the Bolsheviks was arrested.

Throughout the war, we were unable to resume the publication of Pravda.


Chapter XXI

Preparations for the Congress

The Decision to Convene a Congress – Lenin's Instructions – Our Congress and that of the International – The Menshevik "Plan" – Preparations – How Documents were Preserved

The last (Fifth) All-Russian Party Congress was held in London in 1907. The years that followed had witnessed many important events in the country and many important changes within the Party. It was quite impossible to convene a Party congress during the years of the reaction, but now the position had changed. At the same time, the amazing development of the working-class movement had raised enormous new problems relating to the revolutionary struggle and given rise to many internal Party problems. These matters required to be settled at a Party congress.

In September 1913, the Poronino Conference had discussed the necessity for a congress and decided that: "The growth of the working-class movement, the deepening of the political crisis and the necessity for the working class to act on an all- Russian scale make it imperative that a Party congress be convened after due preparation." The conference invited local organisations to discuss the matter, map out a preliminary agenda, submit resolutions and organise collections.

At Poronino, it was decided to call the congress about the same time that the Socialist International was to meet in congress at Vienna, in August 1914. The Central Committee regarded it as both necessary and desirable that the Bolsheviks should play as great a part as possible at that Congress. At the same time, since the preparatory work for both congresses could be combined, it became possible to conduct it more thoroughly and, what is more, to screen more effectively from the police the very fact of the convocation of the Party congress.

Speaking at the Poronino Conference on the International Congress, Lenin pointed out the necessity of ensuring that the workers participated in the congress. He said:

"Hitherto the Social-Democratic Party has been represented in the international arena either by the central Party organs or by its various groups abroad, the Vperiodists, Conciliators, etc., made up almost entirely of intellectuals. Now we must take steps to ensure that the genuine working man be directly represented by delegates elected directly from the workers' organisations, trade unions, co-operatives, etc. The Duma fraction must assume the representation of those organisations which are unable to send their own delegates. Every Bolshevik deputy must be present, since they are workers themselves and represent the Russian working class."

Lenin also emphasised the necessity of making the Party congress coincide with that of the International so that the election of delegates could take place at the same time. Preparations for the congress began immediately after the conference and discussions were started in the local organisations, but the most active work was done in the spring and summer of 1914.

In April 1914, together with the usual instructions which the fraction received from the Central Committee, there were a number of proposals from Lenin on how the preparations for the congress should be intensified.

Lenin insisted that in the first instance the underground organisations of the Party should be strengthened; without this, he argued, the growth of the Party would prove less effective since it would be deprived of revolutionary leadership. The strengthening of our underground cells was the chief means of ensuring the success of the congress and assisting it in the work of promoting the further consolidation of the Party. At this congress the Liquidators and, in particular, the Menshevik Duma "seven" would be finally defeated.

Lenin pointed out:

We have won a great victory, a victory for revolutionary Marxism. The press, the trade unions and the educational associations are ours. But this victory has its dangers. We owe it to our discipline and hard work.... If we want to maintain our position and not allow the growing movement to pass beyond Party leadership and become anarchist, we must at all costs strengthen the underground organisations. It is possible to dispense with a part of the Duma work, although it has been successfully conducted in the past, but we must reinforce our activity outside the Duma. We require well-organised, disciplined factory groups, ready to act rapidly on instructions transmitted from above.*

* These passages are reproduced from the report of the Moscow Secret Police Department, dated April 27, 19 14. The material was probably supplied by Pelageya (the agent-provocateur Romanov).

At this period the proposed agenda of the congress was as follows: (1) Report of the Central Committee and local reports; (2) The political situation; (3) The Party organisation; (4) The strike movement; (5) The new Press Bill; (6) The tactics of the trade union movement; (7) The tactics of the social insurance commissions; (8) The Party programme; (a) the national question, (b) some supplements to the minimum demands; (9) The Narodniki; (10) Attitude to the Liquidators; (11) Contributing to the bourgeois press; (12) Elections to the Central Committee and the Editorial Board of the Party paper; (13) Current affairs.

The congress was thus to deal with all fundamental and cardinal questions of internal Party organisation and the tactics of the revolutionary struggle. The number of delegates to the various local organisations was also provided for and representatives of the Bund, the Lettish, Polish and Lithuanian organisations were invited to attend as guests.

In view of the enormous preparatory work to be performed – the election of delegates, the drafting of instructions, the conveyance of the credentials, the safe passage of the delegates across the frontier and the collection of funds to defray the expenses – a special organisation committee was set up to deal with all matters concerning the congress. This committee worked in St. Petersburg and local committees were also constituted in the districts, which at once proceeded with the work of strengthening and, where necessary, rebuilding the local Party organisations; wherever possible, district and city Party conferences were arranged.

Members of our fraction also proceeded to their districts on tours of organisation and agitation in connection with the congress, and after they had covered their own district they went on to other regions in accordance with plans drawn up by Lenin. Petrovsky, after visiting the Ukraine, had to go to Esthonia, Muranov to the Urals and Shagov to Vladimir. Apart from my work in St. Petersburg, I had to go to the Caucasus and the Volga district.

Simultaneously with the strengthening of local organisations, Lenin took measures to consolidate the Central Committee working within Russia. For this purpose he proposed to arrange for the escape of Stalin and Sverdlov from exile and at the same time he arranged for several other comrades to be given responsible Party work. I received a letter from Lenin informing me of my inclusion on the Russian Bureau of the Central Committee.

Thus the work of preparation for the congress involved a general overhauling of the Party organisation and, as I mentioned before, it included the preparation for the International Socialist Congress.

The Russian Party congress was to meet before the International, to which our delegates would thus proceed with definite instructions from the supreme organisation of the Party. The International Socialist Bureau drafted the following agenda for the Vienna Congress: (1) Unemployment; (2) Alcoholism; (3) The rise in prices and the agrarian question; (4) Imperialism in connection with the colonial question; (5) The conditions of Russian political prisoners; (6) Party unity.

The inclusion of this last item was the result of the decision taken by the International Socialist Bureau in December 1913, in London, with regard to the split in the Duma fraction. The question of "unity" had been dealt with at other more recent conferences of the Bureau, but without any definite decision being arrived at. In view of the exceptional progress of Bolshevism among the workers accompanied by the practical extinction of Menshevism, it was quite out of place to raise the question of the Bolsheviks "uniting" with the Mensheviks. Not less than four-fifths of the working class now stood behind the Bolshevik Central Committee; therefore, it was no longer a question of reunion with the Mensheviks, but of recognising that they had placed themselves outside of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, and that their "centre" had no claim to existence. This was the point of view advocated by the Bolsheviks at the meetings of the I.S.B. and the latter decided to submit this question to the congress.

As in other campaigns carried out in Russia, the major part in the preparations for the two congresses fell to the Duma fraction. The preparations for the Party congress had, of course, to be kept strictly secret, but we were able to conduct a limited amount of propaganda for the International Socialist Congress in our press. But this was strictly limited; we did not even call it socialist, but referred to it as an international congress of labour organisations, congress of trade unions, or by some similar description. The masses were accustomed to the guarded language of our newspapers and understood what was meant, especially as the speeches and the illegal literature supplemented the newspaper reports. In the press we discussed a number of questions which referred to the International congress, but were essentially connected with the Party congress too.

The Mensheviks were also making their own preparations. As they understood that at the Party congress they could at best form but a small minority, many of them considered the advisability of refusing to attend the congress and organising instead a. conference of all organisations which took part in the August Bloc of 1912. But they could not refuse to take part in the International Congress since, in that case, the decision on the Russian question would almost certainly be unfavourable to them. Therefore they began a lively campaign in all workers' organisations.

But it was soon obvious that the Liquidators were fighting a lost battle. In the trade unions, insurance societies and other labour organisations, the majority of the members supported the Bolsheviks. In the summer of 1914, the Bolsheviks were in a majority on the boards of fourteen out of eighteen trade unions existing in St. Petersburg; on one of the others there was an equal number of Bolsheviks and Mensheviks and only three could be regarded as Menshevik. All the largest unions, including the metal-workers, supported the Bolsheviks. And a similar proportion of Bolsheviks to Mensheviks obtained among the representatives of the workers on the insurance societies.

When it became clear that they could not obtain a majority in the workers' organisations and might be even left without delegates to the Vienna Congress, the Mensheviks devised the idea of "double representation." They first tried this among the metal-workers, from whom, they suggested, two delegates should be sent, since one, representing the majority only, would be “factional,” and would describe the unions' activity in a one-sided way. Naturally, as soon as the Mensheviks made this suggestion, the Socialist-Revolutionaries also demanded a delegate, although their sup porters in the union only amounted to a few score. But the Liquidators could not refuse this demand, and thus their system would have brought about a multi-coloured delegation at the International Congress incapable of expressing the actual standpoint of the organisation as a whole.

The Mensheviks' scheme was overwhelmingly rejected by the workers, and as an example of the attitude of the latter, I will quote a resolution of a delegates' meeting in the Okhta district:

We, twenty-five delegates from the workshop committees of the Metal-Workers’ Union, consider it necessary to send a representative to the International Congress who should represent the majority and who can adequately and correctly express our standpoint. We consider the suggestion, that representatives should be sent from the various tendencies, to be essentially wrong since it runs counter to all ideas of organisation and discipline.

The scheme of the Mensheviks to misrepresent the workers organisations abroad was completely defeated and most of these bodies elected Bolsheviks to the Vienna Congress.

The preparation for the Party congress proceeded satisfactorily. The main task of strengthening the local Party units was greatly assisted by the growth of revolutionary enthusiasm in the country. More and more workers were drawn towards the Party, new groups of revolutionary workers joined the ranks and the leading committees of the Party gained wider influence over the masses. Therefore it was natural that the question of organising an all-Russian congress should be discussed with great interest.

These favourable conditions did not in any way lessen our work. The organisation of even the smallest party meeting, not to speak of the convocation of regional and city conferences, was attended with great difficulties. All our work had to be conducted in secrecy and required a thorough knowledge of the technique of conspiracy, since the arrest of one or two delegates might endanger the whole congress and be very prejudicial to the interests of the Party. Finally, the collection of funds for the congress was also a very serious matter.

The whole of the St. Petersburg Party organisations threw themselves into the work of preparation. Thanks to the summer weather we were able to organise meetings in the woods outside the city, where we were comparatively free from police raids. When we wished to hold large meetings we organised excursions under the auspices of some educational society. After travelling some twenty kilometres from St. Petersburg, we went for a "walk" into the thicker parts of the woods and there, after posting sentries with an agreed password, held our meeting. Such meetings were not confined to the business of arranging the congress, but discussed all questions of the revolutionary struggle which became particularly urgent during 1914.

The secret police realised that something was afoot and spies swarmed all round the party centres, particularly at the editorial offices of Pravda and the premises of the fraction. However, our technique had improved and, although individual comrades were occasionally arrested, there were no wholesale arrests.

The work was also successfully carried out in the provinces. Members of our fraction went from one city to another reorganising Party cells, giving instructions, reading reports on the congress and arranging for the election of delegates. At the same time they had to deal with current Party work in connection with the strike movement, trade union organisation, the workers' press fund, etc. Here, too, Bolshevik organisations played the leading role, while the influence of the Mensheviks vanished from month to month.

Preparations for the congress progressed. Credentials and other documents found their way to me by secret methods; the routes of delegates to the congress abroad were mapped out and they were informed where they had to cross the frontier, etc. Muranov, after touring his own district, was working in the Urals, Petrovsky was preparing to go to Esthonia, while I had already completed preparations in St. Petersburg, but was unable to leave for the Volga district because of the work entailed by the July events in the city.

By the time war was declared the principal part of the preparations both for the International Congress and the Party congress had been completed. Most of the delegates had been elected, instructions drafted and credentials collected. The technical organisation was also ready – the secret meeting-places, the routes and the passports. Sufficient funds had been collected and there was no reason to expect that the congress would not be highly successful.

The declaration of war and the rabid reaction which accompanied it radically altered the situation in the country. The convocation of a Party congress was now rendered impossible, especially since the closing of the frontiers made connections with foreign countries extremely difficult. The Party congress had to be postponed until a more favourable time and the International Congress could not meet either.

Since, however, we considered that perhaps the Party congress would be able to take place later, we decided to preserve all the documents relating to the congress. These documents, which were extremely important since they contained the whole scheme of our Party organisation, were at my home. According to the previous plan, I was to arrange that they should be forwarded to the Central Committee abroad so that the individual delegates could travel without having any compromising papers on them. Now that military operations had started at the frontier and all routes and correspondence abroad were watched by the military secret service, it was impossible to get the documents abroad.

Yet they were no longer safe at my home. Most of the workers' organisations had been destroyed and we felt that it would soon be the turn of the Duma fraction. The government had already opened a campaign against the workers' deputies and we expected the police to raid our homes at any moment. At one time we even thought of burning all the material. The days of "parliamentary immunity" were drawing to a close and it was necessary to find some safe place to keep the documents.

Finally, we decided to conceal them in Finland, at a place two or three hours' train journey from St. Petersburg. I took the documents and, having wandered about the city until I had shaken off all spies, went to Finland. We had decided that only one other comrade should know of the hiding-place; I met Comrade Olminsky at the appointed station and we buried the documents under a tree, placing a heavy stone over the spot to make matters more certain.

After a time, however, I managed to get the documents to the Central Committee. The Finnish Social-Democratic Party still had facilities for communicating with foreign countries and we agreed that their Central Committee should undertake the task. I went again to Finland, dug out the documents and took them to Helsingfors.

The Finnish Party was legal and was in a much more favourable position than our organisation; I therefore raised the question of their helping us. We had suffered setbacks all along the line and funds were necessary to re-establish our work.

"Our organisation has been smashed," I told the Finnish comrades, "you must help us. We want to borrow both money and printing equipment. We are badly in need of every thousand, nay, every hundred, rubles that we can get."

Although the Finnish Social-Democratic Party was legal and therefore open to police surveillance, the Finnish comrades found ways to lend us some assistance.

The work of preparation for the Party congress was of great importance from the point of view of organisation. All Party units took part in the work from the Central Committee down to the local cells. Although the Party congress was not held at the time fixed owing to the war, the preparations had strengthened and consolidated the Party. Party membership had increased and new cadres of Party workers had been created.

Click here to return to the Archives Material

Click here to go to Section I of Badayev