THE END OF KRONSTADT
Finally, Trotsky had dug up a huge mass of troops. Unreliable units had been removed, exchanged for faithful ones. Mutinies among the soldiers (as occurred in Oranienbaum) had been suppressed. The people of Kronstadt, cheerful of spirit, had been brought to the final degree of physical exhaustion. Scattered among the forts and batteries, they had to defend giant Kronstadt, spread over the boundless ice besetting it from all sides, across which the terrible enemy might attack from South, North and East. And their weaponry was designed for defense only against... the West. There was not even an icebreaker to open the ice around the island...
Here it is imperative to point to yet one more legend dreamed up by the Bolsheviks. The Communist press frightened the populace of Petrograd, saying that Kronstadt, a peaceful and great-spirited town, had supposedly decided to bombard... the former capital.
Having opened fire first, from all sides, on the forts and on Kronstadt, the Bolsheviks didn't hesitate to send airplanes to bombard the besieged town. And at the same time, lied and slandered against it.
As was already pointed out above, the very defense system of the fortress was disadvantageous for the people of Kronstadt and advantageous for the Bolsheviks. In fact, Kronstadt's natural purpose was to be defender of Petrograd against foreign enemies attacking from the sea. Moreover, in view of the possibility of the fortress falling into the hands of an external enemy, the shore batteries and forts of Krasnaya Gorka were calculated for battle, in such event, with Kronstadt. Its rear was intentionally, with foresight to such a possibility, unfortified.
Who could ever have thought that against worker-sailor Kronstadt would advance not hostile squadrons from the West, but troops mustered by the supposed Russian Worker-Peasant Power? On the strength of these considerations alone, the rumors spread by the Bolsheviks were blatant lies. And to the question, "Why did you not succeed in forcing Krasnaya Gorka to silence?" the 'spets' Commander of the Kronstadt Artillery Defense [Kozlovsky in "Zritel," No 195, p. 2] answered, "Because we were closer to them, and they farther from us. They were on a hill, and we at the bottom. We had to shoot 'at a mountain,' and this was meaningful over long distance. You know of course that even their rounds only flew to Kosa in Kronstadt; that means we hadn't the faintest chance of hitting them. Besides, we could only shoot in clear weather, and there was always fog. They also had firing records, left from the battle during Yudenich's attack. We had absolutely nothing."
Such were the results of the battle with Krasnaya Gorka, placed ahead and to the Southwest, but all the same located under the fire of the Kronstadt forts. The distance between Petrograd and Kronstadt was one and a half times greater than between Krasnaya Gorka and Kronstadt. It is enough to glance at a map of the Gulf of Finland to understand the complete impossibility of Kronstadt firing on Petrograd. And never the less, the Bolsheviks lied, and with that lie frightened the populace of Petrograd.
The attack on Kronstadt from the rear was carried out by the Bolsheviks with stern conformation to a prepared plan. "The battle plan," said Dybenko, former Bolshevik Commissar for Naval Affairs, and appointed dictator of Kronstadt, in an interview with representatives of the Soviet press, "was worked out down to the finest details, according to the orders of Tukhachevsky, Commander of the Army, and in the field staff of the Southern Group. The brigade commanders took part in development of the plan, and then all unit leaders, starting with regimental commanders, were acquainted with it in great detail."
In a word, this entire tsarist general staff was not on the side of the Kronstadt sailors. There was the whole lot of them, helping the Dybenkos to destroy their former comrade sailors. "On the 16th began the artillery preparation for the battle," said another butcher of Kronstadt, General Kazansky. "Firing was carried on by our side with an account, and as was later shown, the hit percentage was good. With the fall of night, we made our approach to the numbered forts. White overalls, which made us almost invisible on the mantle of snow, and the courage of the cadets, allowed us to move in columns."
From all sides, North, South, and East, cadet detachments advanced on small handfuls of Kronstadters, spread in the dark of the winter night among seperate forts lost in the ice.
By morning a number of forts were taken. Through Kronstadt's weak point, the Petrograd Gates, cadets burst into the town. Local Communists, shown mercy by the people of Kronstadt, now betrayed them, arming and acting from the rear. Kuzmin and Vasiliev, released by the chekists who had burst into Kronstadt, took part in the "liquidation" of the "mutiny." Still, the rebels' desperate resistance, and the merciless massacre, continued until late in the night of the 18th.
The enemy exceeded the Kronstadters many many times in strength. Those who could, left for Finland, and over the revolutionary fortress again rose the flag of oppression. The merciless Dybenko, appointed commandant of the town which had yesterday still been free, set out for reprisal. The town where in fifteen days of uprising not one drop of human blood had spilled became a center of shootings, lynchings, and murders.
And in Petrograd, for the freedom of which Kronstadt had risen, a "court" hastily met. With its own unjust trial, selecting 13 heroes from among those being shot, it "judged" those who had shown mercy on hundreds and hundreds of Communists.
And having taken into account all the "circumstances" and "faults," it resolved:
"Denier, 24 y., Aide to the Commander of the battleship Sevastopol, former midshipman, of the former hereditary nobility of Petrograd Prov.; Mazurov, 28 years, artillerist of the same ship, former lieutenant, of the hereditary nobility of Petrograd Prov.; Bekman, 23 years, navigator, former midshipman, of the hereditary nobility of Perm Prov.; Levitsky, 35 years, tower commander, former senior captain, of the hereditary nobility; Sofronov, 27 y., platoon commander, former midshipman, of the hereditary nobility of Tver Prov.; Timonov, 37 y., assistant manager, former priest, from the bourgeoisie of Seva District, Orel Prov.; seamen and members of the ship committee: Sugankov, 25 years, from the peasantry of Gomel Prov., Chernigov District, Stavinsk Region, village Staraia Kamenka; Stepanov, 33 years, from the peasantry of Novgorod Prov., Starorussky District, Vysotsk Region, village Pestovo; Efremov, 29 years, from the peasantry of Petrograd Prov., Iamburg District, Moskovskaia Sloboda; Steshin, 30 years, from the peasantry of Bryansk Prov., Karbachev District, Dragunsk Region, Collective Farm Bratstvo; and Chernousov, 23 years, Commander of the Military Plant, of the peasantry of Minsk Prov., Igumensk District, Ustdensk Region, village Zabolotie, to execute."
"The sentence will be carried out without appeal; it is subject, in light of the current situation in Kronstadt of establishment of revolutionary order, to immediate completion."
The memory of these pure, great-spirited hero/martyrs remains, forever sacred to mournful, suffering humanity, struggling for freedom and a better future. Glory to them, and to Kronstadt, and to the unknown heroes, perished in the struggle...