Historical Significance of Pravda o Kronshtadte

The Kronstadt Rebellion

Pravda o Kronshtadte is a product of the Kronstadt Rebellion, which took place in March 1921 in the naval port of Kronstadt located on Kotlin Island near the Gulf of Finland.

The rebellion was organized and conducted largely by the sailors from the naval base. Initially, they had supported the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution, but sided with striking workers to form the anarchist Provisionary Revolution Committee after the Bolshevik government refused to respond to critical food and energy shortages, imposed political repression, and enforced unreasonable labor regulations.

The actual takeover of the local government was peaceful; the aftermath was not.

Leon Trotsky and Mikhail Tukhachevsy deployed troops to crush the uprising. Over the course of two-week-long siege, most of the rebels were captured or killed, and a few managed to flee to Finland.

While the Bolsheviks successfully quelled the rebellion, they ultimately realized that they needed to address the economic crises fuelling disenchantment with the government. They adopted the New Economic Policy within the month.

 

Pravda o Kronshtadte

Unsurprisingly, most of the existing Soviet documents give a negative account of the Kronstadt Rebellion -- it is depicted as an instance in which the courageous Bolsheviks prevailed against a set of criminals.

The fact that Pravda o Kronshtadte is a rare piece of pro-rebellion propaganda is one of the reasons why it is interesting as a historical text. It was published after the uprising by the newspaper Volia Rossii (Russia's Will), and includes in the appendix all fourteen issues of the pro-rebellion daily, Izvestiia of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee. According to the title page, all proceeds from the sale of this publication were to go to the "Kronstadt refugees and their families."

This work is also interesting as a report of political and economic conditions during 1921. The contents of Izvestiia provide insights on the food shortage and the people's response, the political structure of governmental bodies, and the occupations of Kronstadt's inhabitants at the time of the uprising.