HOPES OF THE KRONSTADTERS
Trotsky continued to pull in ever new forces. Select units - cadets, chekists and alien divisions - were brought in from all directions.
The garrison of the fortress did not increase of course. In the fortress and forts, the entire garrison was 12-14 thousand people. About 10 thousand of these were sailors. This garrison was required to defend a huge front, and a mass of forts and batteries spread across the boundless ice field of the Gulf of Finland. The Kronstadt batteries were designed for battle against an enemy coming from the sea, and in no way for one from the Russian shores. By the calculations of the military specialists, to one Kronstadt combatant, there were about five sazhen of front... [1 sazhen is equal to 2.134 meters] From the general mass of the garrison, it was possible to detail no more than three thousand bayonets for performance of active operations.
Repeated attacks by the Communists, who brought in ever new troops, insufficiency of provisions, constant sleeplessness in the cold, and unrelieved guard duty all sapped the strength of the garrison. And none the less, the people of Kronstadt not only did not lose hope of victory, but believed in it. They believed in it because they believed in the aid of Petrograd and of all Russia. To them, it seemed impossible that Petrograd, for the defense of which they had risen in rebellion, would not support them, and that Russia would not respond to their call.
One of the members of the Prov. Rev. Com. [Petrichenko in "Zritel," No 187, p. 2] later said, "We did not act for ourselves. We acted for the people, for the laborers. When they say 'yes,' we also say yes, and when 'no,' then no. It was not we who said, 'down with the Communists,' but the laborers, and not only Kronstadt, but all Russia. Only in Russia do chekists, bought with gold, harrass the people, but of course, gold won't last for long. It isn't possible to take any more. I have been about Russia a lot. I've seen the people in towns and in villages. Laborers everywhere hate the Communists."
And was there not before their eyes the worker unrest in Petrograd? Did they not know from the Soviet press itself of peasant uprisings in Siberia? In Tambov and the central provinces? In the Ukraine? They believed that this movement would spread, that the Kronstadt Uprising would shine through all Russia with a bright flame, hearten the people's masses, push them onto the path of rebellion, organize the entire dissatisfied nation... And did they not have the hope of holding out at least until icebreak on the Gulf of Finland?
These considerations were also not unknown to the Soviet authorities. They, continuing to bring in ever new echelons of troops, understood that the battle occurred not only on the ice of the Gulf of Finland, on the tragic approaches to Kronstadt, but also in the streets and factories of Petrograd and Moscow. And, bombarding Kronstadt, throwing bombs from airplanes on the peaceful populace of the besieged town, the Bolsheviks attempted to defame and slander their great-spirited adversary. They attempted to undermine the faith of the people's masses in him, to frighten the masses with the Kronstadt movement. For Kronstadt's calls possessed a powerful strength...
"In Kronstadt there is neither Kolchak, nor Denikin, nor Yudenich. In Kronstadt are laboring folk," says the 'Appeal to Comrade Workers and Peasants' in No 9 of 'Izvestiia of the Prov. Rev. Com.' And, refuting the lies and slanders of the Bolsheviks, the appeal ends with the call, "Comrades, the people of Kronstadt have raised the banner of rebellion, and are certain that tens of millions of workers and peasants will answer their call. It cannot be that the dawn which has appeared here has not become clear for all Russia. It cannot be that the Kronstadt explosion has not made all Russia, and first of all Petrograd, shake and arise. Our enemies have filled the prisons with workers, but there are still many daring and honest ones at liberty. Arise comrades, to battle with the Communist autocracy..."
And there came response to this Kronstadt explosion. The people of Kronstadt learned of it first of all from confused Bolshevik broadcasts, in which reports of uprisings in all parts of Russia were incidentally reported among the lies and slander. They knew of it from deserted army units, escaping to Kronstadt, and from the stories of Communist prisoners, saved from death on the ice of the Gulf of Finland...
Every extra hour of Kronstadt's existence, every shot from its batteries, raised ever new enemies against the Bolsheviks. The Communists remained alone. Trotsky had to form units from cadets, chekists, and anti-smuggling detachments, and to bring in Chinese and Bashkir units.
That is why the Bolsheviks authorities so doggedly, so furiously, drove ever new battalions across the Gulf ice to certain death. They needed, come what may, to destroy Kronstadt as quickly as possible. Otherwise, Kronstadt would have blown them apart. That is why all means were acceptable to the Soviet authorities. That is why it spared no means, no violent acts, to defame and slander Kronstadt.