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.
I would like to thank Professor Dennis Browne for his extensive help in preparing this work. I am also grateful to Professor Steven Hochstadt for introducing me to Kronstadt, and to Professor Jane Costlow and the staff of the Reference Department of the George and Helen Ladd Library whose efforts in obtaining necessary resources were both invaluable and greatly appreciated. Professor Richard Stites of Georgetown University provided many useful suggestions toward improving the readability and usefulness of the text -- many of which it should be noted I have yet to implement. I would also like to specially thank Andrei Strukov and Maksim Kopanitsa for all their kindness and knowledge in providing information on the intricacies of the Russian language and of early Soviet-era culture.
Materials for the work were provided by the George and Helen Ladd Library at Bates College, the Library of the University of Connecticut, the Library of the University of Vermont, the Library of Congress, the Mount Holyoke College Library, the Columbia University Library, and the private collection of Professor Jane Costlow. Supplemental material for the online version of this work were obtained from the University of Michigan Harlan Hatcher Library and the University of Michigan Special Collections Library.
Translating this text would have been much more difficult without the excellent Russian-English dictionary of Professors A. I. Smirnitsky and O. S. Akhmanova, which is also the source of all weight and measure definitions.
The deepest debt of all is owed to my editor and friend Mary Huey. Her persistence, encouragement, and diligent dedication of great amounts of personal time to the project have been solely responsible for making this work available to the public in the face of a procrastinating and distracted author. She is truly remarkable.
Finally, I wish to note that all shortcomings of the text are thanks to myself.
Transliterations follow the Library of Congress system, as given in Great Soviet Encyclopedia, a Translation of the Third Edition, Index, p. x (Prokhorov ed., 1973), with several changes in the interests of readability. Diacriticals are omitted, though the soft sign appears as 'i' when it occurs before the soft 'e'. Proper names are transcribed with 'sch' instead of 'shch,' and in family names, 'aya' instead of 'aia' and 'y' instead of 'ii' or 'yi.' Where there are traditional spelling irregularities, the style used in Kronstadt 1921 by Paul Avrich has been used, to aid in identification.
Russian terms in transliteration are italicized, and when necessary are defined in the text or in footnotes on their first appearance.
The general object of the translation has been to preserve the actual content and feeling of the original text, to the degree that it does not interfere with scholarly usefulness and readability. Native Russian speakers confirm that the language and style used in 'Izvestiia of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee' is generally very simple and even colloquial, and it has been attempted to express this in the translation. Every attempt has been made to retain the multiple meanings inherent in segments which are ambiguous or poorly written in the original Russian, while clarifying ambiguities which are due to purely contextual or language differences. Similarly, where capitalization has differed from the norms of Russian usage and of the original text, this has been reflected in the translation.
There are instances in the text where a single institution or person is referred to by several variations of the same name, or by abbreviations of that name. These variations and abbreviations have been preserved or reflected in the translation to the degree that they do not interfere with the text's readability. Where the original contains differing versions of the same documents, this has been noted.
It is hoped that this translation achieves a proper balance between the original, colloquial feel of the text and scholarly clarification. The translator's goal has been to provide the scholar with an important resource, and the interested layman with a basis for understanding of the Kronstadt rebels, their actions, and the period in which they lived.
arshin -0.71 meters
Baltflot -the Baltic Fleet
Cheka- the secret police
Gorkommuna -Town Commune
Gorprodkom - Town Produce Committee
Ispolkom - Executive Committee
Kadets - Constitutional Democrats
katorga - hard labor prison regime
makhorka - low grade tobacco
Narodniks - Populists
Okhrana/Okhranka - tsarist secret police
Oprichnina - military and administrative elite under Tsar Ivan IV ("The Terrible")
Politotdels - Political Departments
politruk - head of the politotdel
pood - 15.38 kilograms
Rabkrin - Worker-Peasant Inspection
Raikoms - Regional Committees
Retroika - Revolutionary Tribunal
SR - Socialist Revolutionary
sazhen - 2.134 meters
Sevtsentropechat - North Central Publishing
spets - military "specialist" formerly in the tsarist armed forces
Uchkoms - District Election Committees
Uchredilka - (slang) Constituent Assembly
versta - 1.06 kilometers
zolotnik - about 4.65 grams
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