Left SR uprising

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The Left SR uprising or Left SR revolt was an uprising against the Bolsheviks by the Left Socialist Revolutionary Party in July 1918. The uprising started on 6 July 1918 and was claimed to be intended to restart the war with Germany.[1] It was one of a number of left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks that took place during the Russian Civil War.

Background[edit]

The revolt was led by the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries in Moscow. Previously, the Socialist Revolutionary Party had supported the continuation of the war by the Provisional Government after the February Revolution of 1917. The Bolshevik Party came to power in November 1917 through simultaneous election in the soviets and an organized uprising supported by military mutiny. Several of the main reasons the population supported the Bolsheviks were to end the war and have a social revolution, exemplified by the slogan "Peace, Land, Bread". The Bolsheviks invited left SRs and Martov's Menshevik Internationalists to join the government. Left SRs split from the main SR party and joined the Bolshevik coalition government, supporting the Bolsheviks immediate enactment of the Socialist Revolutionary Party's land redistribution program. The Left SRs were given four Commissar positions and held high posts within the Cheka. The Left SRs still diverged with the Bolsheviks on the issue of the war, and were dismayed that the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk gave up large amounts of territory. They left the Council of the People's Commissars in protest in March 1918.

The Left SRs agreed with extrajudicial execution of political opponents to stop the counterrevolution, but opposed having the government legally pronouncing death sentences, an unusual position that is best understood within the context of the group's terrorist past. The Left SRs strongly opposed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and opposed Trotsky's insistence that nobody was allowed to attack German troops in the Ukraine.[2]

On June 14, 1918 Bolsheviks excluded the Right SRs and Mensheviks from the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and ordered all local Soviets to exclude Right SRs and Mensheviks.

At the 5th All-Russia Congress of Soviets of July 4, 1918 the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries had 352 delegates compared to 745 Bolsheviks out of 1132 total. The Left SRs raised disagreements on the suppression of rival parties, the death penalty, and mainly, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

Assassination of Mirbach[edit]

On July 6, 1918, at about 2:15 PM two chekists, who were also members of Left SR party, Yakov Blumkin, and N.A. Andreev, arrived at the German legation in Moscow. They showed a letter of introduction, supposedly signed by the head of Cheka Felix Dzerzhinsky and asked to see German envoy. During the conversation - at about 2:50 PM, Blumkin drew up a revolver and shot at Count Mirbach, Dr. Riezler, and the interpreter, Lt. Mueller, but failed to injure any of them. Riezler and Mueller took shelter under a large table, whereas Mirbach, who tried to escape, was then shot by Andreev. The assassins fled and disappeared in a car that was waiting for them in front of the legation

Mirbach had been assassinated by order of the Left SR Central Committee. The Leadership of the Left SRs incorrectly believed this assassination would lead to a widespread popular uprising in support of their aims. They claimed to be leading a revolt against the peace with Germany and not necessarily against the Bolsheviks and soviet power.[1]

A few weeks later, Hermann von Eichhorn was assassinated in Kiev by Left SRs.

Uprising[edit]

Shortly after the assassination, Lenin ordered Yakov Peters to put under guard the whole Left SR faction of the Fifth Congress of Soviets (approximately 450 people). Bolshoi Theatre, where session of Congress took place, was surrounded by chekists and Latvian riflemen. Bolshevik delegates of congress were allowed to leave the theater, while Left SRs were arrested inside the theater.

Blumkin and Andreev drove to the building of a Cheka detachment under the command of Left SR D. I. Popov, where at the time the Central Committee of the Left SR party was in session. At about 5:00 p.m., Dzerzhinsky, who had been given responsibility for investigating the assassination, followed a lead as to the murderers' likely whereabouts and went to the building in order to arrest Blumkin and those who concealed him. But instead of arresting Blumkin, Dzerzhinsky himself was arrested by Popov.

The main rebel force was a Cheka detachment, commanded by D. I. Popov. Popov's unit was manned by red Finns and sailors, and according to Leon Trotsky's estimate had between eight hundred men and two thousand men, several guns, machine-guns and armored cars.[3] Popov ordered to undertake reconnaissance in the streets of Moscow. Group of soldiers from Popov's detachment arrived to Cheka headquarters, arrested Martin Latsis, and brought him to the building where Popov's unit was located.

For a short time the Left SRs seized the telephone exchange and telegraph office. They sent out several manifestos, bulletins and telegrams in the name of the Left S.R. Central Committee declaring that the Left S.R.s had taken over power and that their action had been welcomed by the whole people.

At night, Lenin ordered Jukums Vācietis to gather forces to launch an attack against the Left SRs. By the early morning of 7 July, the Bolsheviks had gathered enough forces, mainly Latvian riflemen under the command of Vācietis, to start an attack. At about 10:00 a.m., they set up their artillery only two hundred yards in front of the building where Popov's unit was located. After an unsuccessful negotiation attempt, the Latvians opened fire. The very first salvos hit the Left SR headquarters, after which the Left SR Central Committee left the building at once. By about 2:00 p.m., the uprising was crushed and the Left SRs took flight.

A telegram from the Left SR Central Committee stating that the Left SRs had seized power in Moscow, was sent to M. A. Muravyov, a Left SR and Commander of the Eastern Front. On the pretext of attacking the Germans, he seized Simbirsk and tried to march his forces on Moscow in support of the left socialist revolutionaries. However, Muravyov could not convince his troops to oppose the bolsheviks, and was killed when arrested.

Results[edit]

The end result of the revolt was the suppression of the Left SRs, the last major independent party other than the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks differentiated between the Left SR leadership and the remainder of the party and soon proclaimed the innocence of the latter. The "Party of the Populists-Communists" and "Party of Revolutionary Communism" split from Left SRs and supported the Bolsheviks.

At the same time, the Bolsheviks began purging local Soviets and Soviet institutions of Left SRs. Many SRs who did not participate in the uprising were afterwards integrated into the Bolshevik Party. In 1921, there was another SR-led[citation needed] revolt called the Kronstadt Rebellion. The Left SRs collapsed as a party by 1922 and only existed as small cells through 1925.

Mirbach assassins, Blumkin and Andreev, managed to evade capture. In early 1919, Blumkin was pardoned by Bolsheviks and rejoined Cheka.

During the Moscow Trials in 1937, it was claimed that Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev were involved in this plot.[4]

Yuri Felshtinsky claimed the revolt was staged by the Bolsheviks as a pretext to discredit the Left SRs. However, this was disputed by L. M. Ovrutskii and Anatolii Izrailevich Razgon.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Boniece, Sally A. - link "Don Quixotes of the Revolution"? The Left SRs as a Mass Political Movement. Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 5.1 (2004) 185–194
  2. ^ Carr, E.H. - The Bolshevik Revolution 1917–1923. W. W. Norton & Company 1985. (162–167)
  3. ^ Trotsky, L. THE REVOLT: Report to the Fifth All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’, Cossacks’ and Red Army Men’s Deputies, on July 9, 1918, the day following the suppression of the revolt by the Left SRs which took place on July 6–8, 1918
  4. ^ Spitzer, Alan B. - John Dewey, the "Trial" of Leon Trotsky and the Search for Historical Truth. History and Theory, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Feb., 1990), pp. 16–37

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