Bloody Sunday (1905)
Bloody Sunday (Russian: Крова́вое воскресе́нье, IPA: [krɐˈvavəjə vəskrʲɪˈsʲenʲjə]) was the name that came to be given to the events of 22 January [O.S. 9 January] 1905 in St Petersburg, Russia, where unarmed demonstrators marching to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II were fired upon by soldiers of the Imperial Guard when approaching the city center and the Winter Palace from several gathering points. The shooting did not occur in the Palace Square. Bloody Sunday was an event with grave consequences for the Tsarist regime, as the disregard for ordinary people shown by the reaction of the authorities undermined support for the state. The events which occurred on this Sunday have been assessed by historians, including Lionel Kochan in his book Russia in Revolution 1890-1918, to be one of the key events which led to the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The previous December in 1904, a strike occurred at the Putilov plant, which filled military orders during the Russo-Japanese War. Sympathy strikes in other parts of the city raised the number of strikers up to 150,000 workers in 382 factories. By 21 January [O.S. 8 January] 1905, the city had no electricity and no newspapers whatsoever. All public areas were declared closed. Father Gapon, a Russian priest who was concerned about the conditions experienced by the working and lower classes had since October 1903 headed an organization known as "The Association of Russian Factory and Plant Workers". During 1904 the membership of the association had grown rapidly, although more radical groups saw it as being a "police union" - under government influence.
The decision to prepare and present a petition was made in the course of discussions during the evening of 19 January [O.S. 6 January] 1905, at the headquarters of Gapon's movement - the "Gapon Hall" on the Shlisselburg Trakt in Saint Petersburg. The petition, as drafted in respectful terms by Gapon himself, made clear the problems and opinions of the workers and called for improved working conditions, fairer wages, and a reduction in the working day to eight hours. Other demands included an end to the Russo-Japanese War and the introduction of universal suffrage. It concluded: "And if Thou dost not so order and dost not respond to our pleas we will die here in this square before Thy palace". Gapon, who had an ambiguous relationship with the Tsarist authorities, sent a copy of the petition to the Minister of the Interior together with a notification of his intention to lead a procession of members of his workers' movement to the Winter Palace on the following Sunday.
Troops had been deployed around the Winter Palace and at other key points. Despite the urging of various members of the imperial family to stay in St. Petersburg, the Tsar left on Saturday 21 January [O.S. 8 January] 1905 for Tsarskoye Selo. A cabinet meeting, held without any particular sense of urgency that same evening, concluded that the police would publicize his absence and that the workers would accordingly probably abandon their plans for a march.
In the pre-dawn winter darkness of the morning of Sunday, 22 January [O.S. 9 January] 1905, striking workers and their families began to gather at six points in the industrial outskirts of St Petersburg. Holding religious icons and singing hymns and patriotic songs (particularly "God Save the Tsar!"), a crowd of "more than 3,000" proceeded without police interference towards the Winter Palace, the Tsar's official residence. The crowd, whose mood was quiet, did not know that the Tsar was not in residence. In so far as there was firm planning, the intention was for the various columns of marchers to converge in front of the palace at about 2pm. Estimates of the total numbers involved range wildly from police figures of 3,000 to organizers' claims of 50,000. Initially it was intended that women, children and elderly workers should lead, to emphasize the pacific nature of the demonstration. On reflection however, younger men moved to the front to make up the leading ranks. 
A report had been made to the Tsar at Tsarskoe Selo on Saturday night on the measures being taken to contain the marchers. Substantial military forces were deployed in and around the environs of the Winter Palace. These comprised units of the Imperial Guard, who provided the permanent garrison of Saint Peterburgh, as well as cossacks and infantry regiments brought in by rail in the early morning of 9 January from Revel and Pskov. The troops, who now numbered about 10,000, had been ordered to halt the columns of marchers before they reached the palace square but the reaction of government forces was inconsistent and confused. Individual policemen saluted the religious banners and portraits of the Tsar carried by the crowd or joined the procession. Army officers variously told the marchers that they could proceed in smaller groups, called on them to disperse or ordered their troops to fire into the marchers without warning. When the crowds continued to press forward, cossacks and regular cavalry made charges using their sabers or trampling the people. There was no single encounter directly before the Winter Palace, as often portrayed, but rather a series of separate collisions at the bridges or other entry points to the central city. The column led by Gapon was fired upon near the Narva Gate. Around forty people surrounding him were killed, however he was not injured.
The first instance of shooting occurred between 10 and 11am. As late as 2pm large family groups were promenading on the Nevsky Prospekt as was customary on Sunday afternoons, mostly unaware of the extent of the violence elsewhere in the city. Amongst them were parties of workers still making their way to the Winter Palace as originally intended by Gapon. A detachment of the Preobrazhensky Guards previously stationed in the Palace Square where about 2,300 soldiers were being held in reserve, now made its way onto the Nevsky and formed two ranks opposite the Alexander Gardens. Following a single shouted warning a bugle sounded and four volleys were fired into the panicked crowd, many of whom had not been participants in the organized marches.
The number killed is uncertain but the Tsar's officials recorded 96 dead and 333 injured; anti-government sources claimed more than 4,000 dead; moderate estimates still average around 1,000 killed or wounded, both from shots and trampled during the panic. Another source noted that the official estimate was 130 persons killed. Nicholas II described the day as "painful and sad". As reports spread across the city, disorder and looting broke out. Gapon's Assembly was closed down that day, and Gapon quickly left Russia. According to one version,[which?] returning in October, he was assassinated by the order of the Combat Organization of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party after he revealed to his friend Pinhas Rutenberg that he was working for the Okhrana or Secret Police.
Although the Tsar was not at the Winter Palace and did not give the order for the troops to fire, he was widely blamed for the inefficiency and callousness with which the crisis had been handled. While it was unrealistic for the marchers to expect Nicholas to ride out into the Palace Square to meet them, his absence from the city, against at least some advice, reflects a lack of imagination and perception that he was to show on other occasions. The killing of people, many of whom had seen the Tsar as their "Father", resulted in a surge of bitterness towards Nicholas and his autocratic rule. A widely quoted reaction was "we no longer have a Tsar".
This event was seen by the British ambassador as inflaming revolutionary activities in Russia and contributing to the Revolution of 1905. Media commentary in Britain and the United States was overwhelmingly negative towards the actions of an already unpopular regime. The writer Leo Tolstoy was emotionally affected by the event, reflecting the revulsion of liberal and intellectual opinion within Russia itself.
In popular culture
Dmitri Shostakovich's 11th Symphony, subtitled The Year 1905, is a programmatic work centered around Bloody Sunday. The second movement, entitled "The Ninth of January", is a forceful depiction of the massacre. The sixth of Shostakovich's Ten Poems on Texts by Revolutionary Poets is also called "The Ninth of January". Shostakovich's father and uncle were both present at the march that day, a year before the composer's birth.
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