KRONSTADT TAKES MEASURES OF SELF DEFENSE
The peaceful character of the Kronstadt movement was not in any doubt or question.
Kronstadt advanced its demands in the spirit of the Soviet Constitution.
In the fortress itself, power passed into the hands of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee without a single shot, by the unanimous decision and vote of the representatives of the sailors, soldiers, workers and Soviet employees.
And none the less, the Bolshevik authorities had already issued against Kronstadt a blatantly provocative order, signed by Lenin and Trotsky. This order of March 2nd calls the Kronstadt movement "a mutiny by the former general Kozlovsky." The order begins with the assertion that the mutiny was supposedly created by the hands of "French counter-intelligence." "On February 28th," says this shameless document, "a Black Hundred/SR [Socialist Revolutionary] resolution was passed (on the vessel Petropavlovsk)."
"On March 2nd," asserts this report by Lenin and Trotsky, amazing in its cynicism, "by morning, the group of the former general Kozlovsky (Commander of the Artillery) had already appeared openly on the scene. The former general Kozlovsky and three officers, whose names have not been determined, openly acted in the roles of mutineers."
"With this," said Lenin and Trotsky, "the meaning of events is fully explained. Behind an SR cover stands yet again a tsarist general. In view of all this, the Soviet of Labor and Defense declares: 1) the former general Kozlovsky and his associates to be outlawed; 2) the town of Petrograd and Petrograd Province to be in a state of siege; 3) all power in the Petrograd consolidated region to be placed with the Petrograd Defense Committee."
In its turn, the Defense Committee published an order throughout Petrograd Province, ending with the words, "in event of street gatherings, troops are ordered to act with armed force. Opposition is to be answered with execution on the spot."
Lenin and Trotsky were not greatly bothered by the fact that the former general Kozlovsky, like all the other generals, had been in service with the Bolsheviks. While he was with them, they didn't notice that he was a tsarist general. Kronstadt had to revolt for the Bolsheviks to discover a tsarist general in their very own "spets".
There were very few spetsi at all in Kronstadt, and by the words of Kozlovsky himself, no one listened to their opinions and they played no role. The Bolsheviks needed all these lies solely in order to discredit the Kronstadt movement in the eyes of workers, as being supposedly "counterrevolutionary." Later, after the fall of Kronstadt, a correspondent of a Russian socialist newspaper asked members of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee, "What role, in fact, did General Kozlovsky play?" Several people answered almost in one voice, "You saw him!" and all broke out laughing.
General Kozlovsky himself related the following about his role ["Zritel," No 195, p. 2]. "The Communists used my name in order to represent the uprising in Kronstadt in the light of a White Guard conspiracy only because I was the single 'general' located in the fortress. Along with me, they made reference to my aide in the artillery defense of Kronstadt, the officer Burkser, and others of my aides, like Kostromitinov and Shirmanovsky, one of whom was a simple draftsman. They, by their own individual qualities, were unable to play any kind of role in the movement."
It is not superfluous to add to this, that when the Provisional Revolutionary Committee was formed, the Commander of the Fortress, a Bolshevik, fled. By the existing regulations, his duties were to be fulfilled by the Commander of the Artillery, that is, by General Kozlovsky. In view of the fact that he declined, considering that since the Revolutionary Committee was now in control the former regulations were no longer valid, the Committee, having considered the matter, named from among the body of officers Solovianov as Commander of the Fortress. Kozlovsky was assigned to direct only the technical work of the artillery, as a specialist.
This then was the role of Kozlovsky, whom the Bolsheviks, moving against Kronstadt with all the "spetsi" inherited by them from the tsarist structure, tried to represent as "leader of the mutiny." Particularly comical was the reference by Lenin and Trotsky to "three officers," whose names they couldn't even give...
Soon after this order declaring the Kronstadt rebels outlawed, threats began to rain down from Trotsky and the Defense Committee, "to shoot them like grouse," and so on and so forth.
Kronstadt was required to take measures for self defense. In the presence of threats by the Bolshevik authorities, the Provisional Revolutionary Commitee instructed military specialists to come to the Petropavlovsk on March 3rd at 4 P.M., for discussion of measures necessary for defense of the fortress. At that conference it was decided that the Committee would move to the "House of Soviets," and the staff of the defense to the fortress headquarters. In the last several days there had been several other joint sessions of the Prov. Rev. Com. with military specialists, a Military Soviet of Defense was selected, and a plan established for the defense of the fortress.
To all recommendations by the military specialists to go on the offensive, open military action and use the convenient moment of initial Bolshevik confusion, the Provisional Revolutionary Committee [Petrichenko in "Zritel," No 187, p. 2] answered with decisive refusal. "Our uprising was founded on the basis that we didn't want to spill blood. Why draw blood, when even without that everyone will understand that our cause is correct. However the Bolsheviks attempt to deceive the people, all will now know that if Kronstadt has risen, it means it is for the people's causes, and it means it is against the Communists. All know that it cannot be otherwise, for under the Communists there are rights only for Communists, and not for the people."
Members of the Prov. Rev. Com. declared this later. This entire unusual "uprising" rested on the deep faith of the sailors that they were supported by all Russia, and first of all by Petrograd.
The movement blazed up spontaneously. Had it been the result of an earlier prepared plan, it would not of course have begun in the first days of March. At the cost to the people of Kronstadt of waiting a bit longer, Kronstadt, liberated from the surrounding ice, would have become an unapproachable fortress, possessing also a powerful fleet, a terrible threat to Petrograd. There was no uprising, as we are accustomed to understand that word. There was a spontaneously ignited movement of peaceful character, catching an entire town, garrison and fleet.
Kronstadt answered the Bolshevik ultimatum to, "give up the instigators," retract its demands and so on with refusal. Then the Bolsheviks declared the people of Kronstadt to be outlaws, and began to concentrate troops. Kronstadt was forced either to submit, or to defend itself. It chose the latter.
And just at this point began that which is called "the Kronstadt Uprising."
Trotsky and the Defense Committee actively pulled in, from all directions, the most trustworthy officer cadets and Communist regiments. The command of all forces destined to act against Kronstadt was given to Tukhachevsky, Commander of the 7th Army [and a former lieutenant in the tsarist army (Avrich, p. 149)]. All the "spetsi," all the famous figures of the tsarist structure, now serving the Bolsheviks, feverishly worked on the formation of a plan of siege and attack on Kronstadt.
The defenders of Kronstadt, slandered by their cynical adversary, had at their disposal the insignificant Kozlovsky, who played no role, and a few third-rank, unnoticed specialists.