THE BLOODY STRUGGLE
At that time, great-spirited, heroic Kronstadt was set afire by the enthusiasm of the struggle for all Russia, for the entire laboring people. Under the thunder of a cannonade, it sent its appeals and broadcasts to the workers of all the world, and to socialist parties. It rejoiced with the anniversary of the Great Revolution. It was joined in a single comradely family, creating a great miracle of the rebirth of the human spirit. And at the same time, Trotsky's troops, driven forward by chekist machine guns, came ever onward. They came dressed in white shrouds to attack this town which was demanding true Soviet power.
"Over the course of the entire night of the March 10th," reads the Summary of Operations, "the Communist artillery bombarded the fortress and forts with intensive fire from the southern and northern shores, meeting from our side an energetic repulse. Around 4 A.M., from the southern shore, Communist infantry made the first attack, but was repulsed. Communist attempts to attack continued until 8 A.M., but all were repulsed by the artillery and small arms fire of our batteries and garrison units."
These short lines raise to the eyes a terrible picture of night and early morning attacks, by units driven by the Communists to slaughter on the ice of the Gulf of Finland.
The day of March 11th passed quietly. "Thick fog interfered with firing," says the summary for the 11th. All the same, in exchanges of artillery fire that day, Kronstadt retained superiority. On that day, the Provisional Revolutionary Committee published a touching order, "to all comrade sailors, soldiers and workers, participating in the repulse of Communist attacks from March 8th through 12th."
This order reads, "Show the world of laborers, dear warriors, that however difficult may the great of struggle for freely elected Soviets become, Kronstadt has always stood, and stands now, a vigilant watch on guard of the laborers' interests."
Saturday the March 12th was the day of celebration of the Great Revolution of 1917. 'Izvestiia of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee,' went out under the banner headline: "Today is the Anniversary of the Overthrow of Autocracy, and the Eve of the Fall of Commissarocracy." And in the wonderful article, "Stages of Revolution," the people of Kronstadt advanced their favorite idea, the Third Revolution.
Having presented a clear picture of the corruption of the Soviet system, Izvestiia finished thus. "It had become stifling. Soviet Russia had turned into all-Russian katorga [hard labor prison regime]. Worker unrest and peasant uprisings testified that patience had come to an end. A toilers' uprising approached. The time to throw down the commissarocracy has arrived. Kronstadt, vigilant guard of the Social Revolution, has not overslept. It was in the first ranks of February and October. It first raised the flag of rebellion for the Third Revolution of Laborers."
The "Third Revolution of Laborers," that is Kronstadt's slogan. And these people, whom the Bolsheviks accused at that time of having dealings with the reaction and the Entente, said, "autocracy fell. The Uchredilka has passed into the land of legend. Commissarocracy too will collapse. The time has come for true power of laborers, for Soviet power..."
The people of Kronstadt formed a clear concept for themselves of the character of their uprising. They were not confused by the fact that in Petrograd itself the workers were demanding a Constituent Assembly, that around Moscow and Peter [colloquial, Petrograd] rose the glow of uprisings carrying the slogan of a new Constituent Assembly, or that in far Siberia, that slogan had already become life...
In their bricked-up fortress, surrounded by ice, they, in their own way, defended the right of the people to self-government and self-regulation. They wished to advance, and were already advancing, toward that people's self government by different paths. Their goal, however, was one and the same, the emancipation of the people. Because of this, independent of how they clothed the demand for, "power of the people," the entire Kronstadt movement possessed a great attractive force. It was, moreover, selflessly pure... It is shown as such in the pages of 'Izvestiia of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee'...
In the night from the 12th to the 13th, the Communists attacked from the South. Again the night attacks, again the white overalls, and again was repulsed the wild storm of fresh units, ever newly arrived from provincial officer academies, from Communist regiments, from selected alien detachments.
On the 14th, Kronstadt was, as before, cheerful, strong and self-assured. And this despite the terrible, sleepless nights, when it was necessary to repulse the attacks of enemy forces, moving like specters in white shrouds over the snowbound ice surrounding the fortress and forts.
Guard duty on the ice. Rounds, patrols, pickets on the ice. In storm and blizzard, and horrible cold. What a terrifying picture...
And there on the shore, "Bloody Fieldmarshal" Trotsky and Commander of the Army Tukhachevsky gathered ever new units. They exchanged the unreliable red army soldiers for the devoted cadet oprichnina, for specially selected detachments, for Bashkir and alien regiments. There on the shore were woven thick nets of lies and deceptions, intended to seperate Kronstadt from the entire world. In important centers abroad, Riga, London, Rome and Warsaw, Soviet agents stooped to any abasement, any concession, in order to gain the aid of the Entente governments. And they wished to use this aid, from the very Entente with which the Bolshevik authorities accused Kronstadt of having relations, to blockade a free town, and prevent food from being brought it...
Kronstadt, a handful of heroes, a town lost in ice in the middle of the sea, was none the less strong and cheerful. It believed in its own rightfulness, and in the inescapability of a gigantic, all-Russian explosion. "We are the shock troops of the Revolution," it said.
And it felt a wave of energy and cheerfulness go out from itself in all directions, like a gigantic electric discharge.