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From Communism to Anti-Communism

 | 
Andre Liebich
, 
Svetlana Yakimovich

From the Revolution to the Comintern

Demonstration, Petrograd, 18 June 1917

Alexander Rabinowitch

Texte intégral

The banners in the center and on the right of the photograph read in Russian: “Мир всему миру. Вся власть народу. Вся земля народу”; “Долой министров-капиталистов” – [“Peace worldwide. All power to the people. All land to the people”; “Down with the capitalist ministers”] The line at the bottom of the photograph reads in Russian: “Политическая манифестация 18-го июня 1917 г. Петроградъ” – [“The political manifestation of 18th June 1917. Petrograd”]. Postcard; black and white; 9 x 13.5 cm.

1The photo represents the second of three major anti-government demonstrations held between February and July 1917. On 18 June, the Bolsheviks successfully turned a 400,000-strong mass march on the Field of Mars conceived by moderate soviet leaders as a show of socialist unity and a demonstration of support for their moderate policies into a strong expression of the expanding popularity of the radical Bolshevik program.

2In early June the Bolsheviks – partly in response to pressure from militant elements among Petrograd factory workers and soldiers of the city’s war inflated garrison threatened with transfer to the front – began preparations for a mass political protest demonstration on 10 June. The Bolshevik leadership was forced to abort this event at the last minute, after it was banned by the moderate socialist-controlled First All-Russian Congress of Soviets, then meeting in Petrograd. However, the Bolsheviks eventually got the better of this clash with the 18 June demonstration depicted here.

3Sunday, 18 June, was a clear, windy day – ideal parade weather. It was already warm in the early morning, when crowds of sailors and workers began assembling at designated points throughout the city, and promptly at 9:00, to the strains of the Marseillaise, the first elements in the parade began moving down Nevsky Prospekt. The Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet and the Presidium of the Congress marched at the head of the parade. At the tomb of the heroes of the February Revolution on the Field of Mars long columns of soldiers and workers, several abreast, filed silently by, lowering their fluttering banner in tribute to the fallen heroes, only to raise again as they marched proudly away.

4The huge demonstration (it lasted until late in the afternoon) was turned into a clear indication of the attractiveness of the Bolshevik program and the effectiveness of Bolshevik techniques. Regiments marched unarmed under predominantly Bolshevik slogans. Occasionally, one saw specifically Socialist Revolutionary and official Soviet slogans but they were the exception. Pavel Miliukov, the liberal Kadet (Constitutional Democrat) minister who had, by then, resigned as Foreign Minister, conceded that the 18 June Demonstration revealed that in Petrograd the Bolsheviks had the upper hand, as had been shown even in a demonstration intended to be friendly to the Provisional Government.

Bibliographie

Alexander Rabinowitch, Prelude to Revolution: The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 Uprising, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1968 (Midland Book Edition, 1991).

Table des illustrations

Légende The banners in the center and on the right of the photograph read in Russian: “Мир всему миру. Вся власть народу. Вся земля народу”; “Долой министров-капиталистов” – [“Peace worldwide. All power to the people. All land to the people”; “Down with the capitalist ministers”] The line at the bottom of the photograph reads in Russian: “Политическая манифестация 18-го июня 1917 г. Петроградъ” – [“The political manifestation of 18th June 1917. Petrograd”]. Postcard; black and white; 9 x 13.5 cm.
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