November 4, 2017

FIGHTING FOR THE VICTORY OF THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION (MARCH-OCTOBER 1917)

As a result of the bourgeois February Revolution of 1917, the autocracy was overthrown, and a peculiar political situation evolved in the country. There were two governments, two dictatorships: the bourgeois Provisional Government was the vehicle of bourgeois dictatorship, while the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies represented the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. 

The Bolshevik Party, which was no longer obliged to remain underground, had to tackle new tasks stemming from the transition to the socialist stage of the revolution. These were defined by Lenin in the very first days of the revolution in his “Letters from Afar" and some other works. 

After his release from prison, Dzerzhinsky spent some time in Moscow. He was ill and worn out but in high spirits. He was not in the habit of concentrating on his personal life or his illness, and plunged into revolutionary work straight away. In the evening of March 1, 1917, he was already speaking at the second sitting of the Moscow Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, where he was brought still wearing prison clothes. Dzerzhinsky hailed the victory of the Russian revolution and congratulated the revolutionary workers and soldiers who had overthrown the autocracy. 

The meeting adopted important decisions designed to promote the revolution. The Soviet requested the workers employed in the services to resume work. The rest of the factories were to continue the strike in order to consolidate the victory of the revolution. District workers’ committees were being set up, and soldiers’ representation was introduced. The soldiers were to form the Moscow Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies. 

Dzerzhinsky also spoke at a workers’ and soldiers’ meeting held in Skobelev (now Soviet) Square. His sister J. 68 Dzerzhinskaya, who was living in Moscow at the time, wrote later: “On that day, he spoke many times before Moscow workers and got back home to me only at night, still wearing prison clothes. At that time I was living with my daughter in Krivoy Alley. Felix made his home with us. 

“His friends were always in and out of the flat. From the Polish Committee (for assistance to the refugees—Auth.) I brought coats and suits for my brother and his friends. Our room was very damp and dark and Felix, my daughter and I moved to another room at 5 Uspensky Alley.” 

On assignment from the Moscow Committee, he spoke almost daily at workers’ and soldiers’ meetings all over Moscow, explaining to his audiences the reactionary nature of the Provisional Government’s, Mensheviks’ andSRs’ policies, and calling on the people o join the campaign for peace and the withdrawal of the country from the imperialist war. 

Dzerzhinsky thought it very important to work in the Polish community (in the war years, about 3 mln Poles were living on Russian territory). Most of the Poles were soldiers who had been recruited by the tsarist army in the first days of the war, railway and industrial workers evacuated from the Kingdom of Poland, refugees, and prisoners whom the revolution had set free. This motley assembly of people comprised quite a few members of the SDKP and L, the PSP and other Polish political parties, including those of the bourgeoisie. 

Bourgeois and pseudo-socialist parties were making a great effort to persuade Polish workers and soldiers not to ’interfere into Russian affairs”. At the same time, they urged the Poles to form national detachments to be used against the revolution and for the restoration of the Polish bourgeois state. 

Dzerzhinsky and the other Polish revolutionaries who had arrived in Petrograd and Moscow from prison, exile and through emigration were faced with the need to organise the Polish Social-Democrats residing in Russia along Bolshevik principles and launch a determined propaganda campaign to win Polish workers and soldiers over to the side of the revolution. 

On March 3, 1917, the first, organisational meeting of the SDKP and L members was held in Moscow. About 50 people met and unanimously adopted a resolution which confirmed the community of interests of the Polish and Russian 69 proletariat and called on Polish workers to extend support to the revolution in Russia. 

The SDKP and L group assisted by the Moscow Party Committee began an active organisational and political campaign among the Polish workers evacuated to Moscow. Dzerzhinsky was a driving force behind the new tactics. Nearly every day he could be seen at workers’ meetings. On March 5, the group held a Polish meeting, at which Dzerzhinsky proposed adopting a resolution which stated that the Polish and Russian workers were striving towards the same goals. The resolution was adopted by a 700 to 5 vote majority. On March 12, a proletarian demonstration organised by the Moscow Party Committee was held in the city. Taking part in it alongside with Russian workers and soldiers were about 6,000 Poles who carried banners of the SDKP and L and the PSP. 

The hard work and tension became too much for Dzerzhinsky, and he fell ill in mid-March. He wrote about his condition to his wife, who at that time was in Switzerland with their son Jan. 

“For several days now I have been taking it easy almost in the countryside, in Sokolniki, for the impressions and frenzy of the first days of freedom and the revolution proved too strong, and my nerves, weakened as they are by all those years of prison silence, failed to stand up to the burden placed on them. I fell slightly ill, but now, after a few days in bed, the fever is completely gone and I am feeling quite well. The doctor hasn’t found anything alarming either, so I shall probably be back in the thick of things in a week at most. 

“I’m using the time to fill in the gaps in my knowledge [of the political and Party situation] and put my thoughts in some sort of order... I am totally engrossed in the work.” 

On March 26, 1917, Dzerzhinsky chaired the conference of the Moscow group of the SDKP and L, which confirmed the decision adopted on March 3 and unanimously approved the resolution on the unity of action with the Bolshevik Party and the advisability of joining it. 

The address issued by the conference, “To All Russian Workers”, read: “We Polish workers united under the banner of social-democracy address you so that all the world may hear what you already know: we are with you, comrades. We are with you now as we were with you before, 70 throughout the time of our suffering and our glorious struggle of 1905. Our joint effort and our sacrifices have not been in vain. We, the people and the soldiers have dealt a powerful blow to the autocracy, which has fallen for good. The executioner of the working class and all peoples inhabiting Russia is no more.” 

Carrying out the orders of the Moscow Party Committee, Dzerzhinsky did a great deal of work among the evacuated Polish railwaymen, who formed a separate workers’ group (branch). Dzerzhinsky often attended its meetings, as well as general assemblies of railway workers, talked to the men about the goals of the working class and its Party in the revolution, and helped draw up resolutions. 

In late March-early April 1917, the Executive Committee of the Moscow Soviet of Workers’ Deputies was re-elected at the suggestion of the Moscow Party Committee. Dzerzhinsky was among nine Bolsheviks on a list of candidates to the Moscow Soviet Executive Committee, and was elected at the plenary meeting of the Moscow Soviet held on April 11. 

The leadership of the Bolshevik Party, including Dzerzhinsky, stressed the importance of the work among the soldiers of the Moscow garrison, which numbered about 50,000 men. Dzerzhinsky was active in the Military Bureau of the RSDLP (B) Moscow Committee. 

in April, the Moscow Committee formed a special commission, headed by Dzerzhinsky, which was entrusted with restoring Bolshevik organisations in the army, and to start creating the Red Guards. Dzerzhinsky tackled the new task in his usual vigorous manner. Soon, a large-scale propaganda campaign was under way in the army. Soldiers’ groups or sections were set up in a number of units of the Moscow garrison which worked in cooperation with district Party organisations. At factories, workers began to form the first Red Guards detachments and detachments of armed workers consisting of Party members. 

The garrison had quite a number of Polish soldiers; the most active were united into a group under the Moscow Committee Military Bureau. Dzerzhinsky often attended and spoke at the meetings of Polish soldiers. It is interesting to read a short report which he wrote in Polish, probably for the Polish section of the Moscow Party Committee. It is an account of a meeting (held not earlier than April 17) of 71 Polish soldiers employed at the Moscow heavy artillery workshops. “About 40 people in all were present,” reads the report. “The subjects under discussion were the war and the International... The assembled men requested that we regularly send our people to tell them about the situation and settle organisational matters. The meetings will convene on Sunday mornings.” The report stressed that there was a fairly large number of Social-Democ’rats among the soldiers. 

Dzerzhinsky’s prestige and popularity in the Moscow Party organisation continued to grow. He was directly involved in the work of city Party conferences and meetings and helped draw up resolutions. The first city conference held in April 1917 elected him its deputy chairman. 

The conference ended in a demonstration of delegates and the workers and soldiers who had joined them to mark the fifth anniversary of the events on the river Lena. Meetings were held at which Dzerzhinsky, Ivan Skvortsov– Stepanov and other leaders of the Moscow Bolsheviks spoke about the need to form a united revolutionary front of workers and soldiers. 

On April 3, Lenin returned to Petrograd from exile. Thousands of workers, soldiers and sailors assembled in the square at the Finland Railway Station to greet him. Standing on an armoured car, Lenin made a speech—the first for many years—voicing his appreciation of the feat performed by the workers and soldiers “who had succeeded not only in liberating Russia from tsarist despotism, but in starting a social revolution on an international scale...". [71•1 

On April 4, Lenin spoke before the Central Committee, the Petrograd Committee and the Bolshevik delegates of the All-Russia Conference of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. His report was entitled “The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution”, or the April Theses, which supplied answers to the questions posed by the revolution: the transition from the democratic to the socialist stage, the attitude of the proletariat and its Party to the war and the bourgeois Provisional Government, the republic of Soviets, the ways of gaining a majority in them, the urgent 72 changes to be introduced in town and the countryside, the tasks of the Party in the new historical situation, and the establishment of the Third, Communist International. 

In April, Moscow hosted three Party conferences to deal with the questions stemming from Lenin’s April Theses. Dzerzhinsky was present at all of them. The Second City Conference elected him a delegate to the Moscow Regional and Seventh All-Russia Party conferences. 

The latter was held in Petrograd in April 1917. Apart from Dzerzhinsky, Polish Social-Democrats Stanislaw Budzynski, Julian Leszczynski and Josef Unszlicht took part in the conference. 

The conference discussed and adopted decisions on major political and organisational issues. Lenin spoke about 30 times: he delivered reports on the main items on the agenda, was very active in the debate, and drew up almost all draft resolutions. He supplied answers to all the principal questions posed by the war, peace and revolution, carried further and specified the points he made in the April Theses. 

Universal approval was extended to Lenin’s resolution on the current situation, which approved his idea that socialism was capable of winning in one individual country, i.e., Russia. 

The resolution on the agrarian question which Lenin proposed provided for the confiscation of landed estates and nationalisation of all land in the country. 

Dzerzhinsky, who spoke in the debate on the national question, held the erroneous opinion that the principle of self-determination for every nation was incompatible with internationalism, and that this principle would play into the hands of bourgeois nationalists and separatists, and as far as Poland was concerned, would bolster the campaign of Polish nationalists and chauvinists. 

Lenin, who had profound respect for Dzerzhinsky, tried to convince him not only at the meetings but in private talks during the breaks that his views were unsound and should be revised. Lenin appreciated the Polish SocialDemocrats’ internationalist stand and the striving for an alliance with the proletarians of all countries, but contended that to promote internationalism, one does “not have to repeat the same words. What you have to do is to stress, in Russia, the freedom of secession for oppressed nations and, in Poland, their freedom to unite. Freedom to unite implies 73 freedom to secede. We Russians must emphasise freedom to secede, while the Poles must emphasise freedom to unite." [73•1 

Lenin’s efforts were not in vain. His draft resolution on the national question was adopted by a majority vote. 

Later, after the October Revolution, Dzerzhinsky criticised the erroneous views of Polish and Lithuanian SocialDemocrats and his own initial ideas on the national and certain other questions. He stressed that Lenin’s proposal was the only way for the working people of Poland to succeed in building an independent socialist state. 

The April Conference proposed electing Dzerzhinsky as a member of the Central Committee, but he requested that his candidature be withdrawn due to his bad health, and his request was granted. 

The conference elected a new Central Committee headed by Lenin, which acted as a legal collective Party organ. 

Having returned to Moscow from the conference, Dzerzhinsky and other Party leaders began work to carry out its decisions. Preparations for the socialist revolution were proceeding. The Moscow City Conference held in May 1917 approved Lenin’s course towards a socialist revolution and outlined what had to be done to further build up the Party. 

Thanks to the thorough and persistent campaign of Moscow Bolsheviks, the slogan “All Power to the Soviets!" was growing more and more popular, and Dzerzhinsky was one of the people who had helped promote it. But in May his health sharply deteriorated, and the Moscow Party Committee decided to send him to Orenburg Region to drink kount’;s 

(fermented mare’s milk), which was thought to be an effective TB cure. 

In June 1917, a Central Executive Committee of the groups of the Social-Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania in Russia was set up in Petrograd. Its members were Stanislaw Bobinski, Stanislaw Budzynski, Felix Dzerzhinsky, Julian Leszczynski, Josef Unszlicht, Edward Prochniak, and Jakub Fenigstein (Dolecki). Candidate members of the Central Executive Committee were Stefania Przedecka, Samuel Lazowert, Bronislaw Wesolowski, and Mieczyslaw Warszawski (Bronski). 

The Committee was to coordinate the work of all SDKP 74 and L groups in Russia, keep in touch with the SocialDemocratic Party in Poland, represent it in the SDKP and L and prepare and convene conferences of the groups in Russia. It was also to supervise the publication of the printed organ, the Trybuna newspaper, which began to circulate in Petrograd on May 27, 1917, and enjoyed the support of the Bolshevik Party Central Committee. 

Dzerzhinsky returned to Moscow in early July. By that time, the situation and the alignment of class forces in Russia had changed dramatically. 

After ’he July shooting of demonstrations of workers and soldiers in Petrograd, the SRs and Mensheviks had voluntarily surrendered power to the bourgeoisie. The dual power was no longer in effect. The peaceful stage of the revolution was over; counter-revolution assumed the offensive. 

On July 5, military cadets raided the headquarters of Pravda; its publication was banned along with that of Tiybuna. The Trybuna staff was arrested, and on July 7 the government issued an order for Lenin’s arrest. 

In light of the July events the Bolshevik Party was faced with new tasks: to explain to the people what had happened and to work out a new tactics which would be effective under the changed circumstances. 

On July 10, Lenin wrote “The Political Situation”, which stated, in part, that, aided and abetted by the Mensheviks and SRs, counter-revolutionary elements had seized state power. “The aim of the insurrection,” he wrote, “can only be to transfer power to the proletariat, supported by the poor peasants, with a view to putting our Party programme into effect." [74•1 

He suggested, in view of the changed situation, that the slogan “All Power to the Soviets!" should be temporarily withdrawn, for it was effective only as long as the revolution developed peacefully and had lost its validity after the July events. [74•2 Now Lenin called on the Bolsheviks to regroup and employ both legal and underground forms of work. His views on the more important issues of the revolution and its new tactics formed the basis of the decisions adopted by the Sixth RSDLP(B) Congress held in Petrograd from July 26 to 75 August 3, 1917. Party conferences of more than 20 major Party organisations were held prior to the congress. 

Dzerzhinsky represented the Moscow city organisation at the congress. Lenin was unable to personally attend, but his presence was felt. The Central Committee Secretariat supplied the delegates with Lenin’s work “On Slogans”. One of the first questions discussed at the congress was whether Lenin should make an appearance at a counter– revolutionary court trial. Grigory (Sergo) Orjonikidze, who was the principal speaker on the question, was against it. 

Dzerzhinsky, who spoke first after Orjonikidze’s opening remarks, also opposed Lenin’s appearance at a trial. ’ I shall be concise,” he said. “The comrade who spoke before me has voiced my viewpoint... We must give a definite answer to the recriminations of the bourgeois press, which seeks to drive a wedge into our ranks... We must make it clear to our comrades that we do not trust the Provisional Government or the bourgeoisie, and that we shall not surrender Lenin.” 

The congress unanimously decided that Lenin must not appear at a trial, and voiced protest against police persecution of the leader of the revolutionary proletariat and claimed its solidarity with Lenin and the other Bolsheviks working underground or languishing in prison. 

On all the major issues, Dzerzhinsky shared the Leninist viewpoint; he unhesitatingly supported an armed uprising. He was elected to the Central Committee and sent to Petrograd. 

Lenin continued to direct the preparations for the uprising from underground. He was living not far from Petrograd, in Razliv, where he was secretly visited by (Sergo) Orjonikidze, Joseph Stalin, Felix Dzerzhinsky, and Yakov Sverdlov. They informed Lenin of the situation in Petrograd and received advice and instructions from him. 

Dzerzhinsky was soon totally engrossed in the work of the Central Committee and Petrograd Party Committee and the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. On August 5, 1917, the Central Committee plenary meeting elected him to the “narrow” CC consisting of 11 people, and the next day he was made a member or the CC Secretariat, which was in charge of all organisational Party work. 

Having seized state power during the July events, the bourgeoisie, aided by the Mensheviks and SRs, was preparing to establish a military dictatorship. General Kornilov, 76 who had the support of imperialist quarters in Britain, France and the USA, was to be made dictator. 

On August 25, General Kornilov moved the 3rd Cavalry Corps commanded by the monarchist General Krymov from the front to Petrograd. Responding to the appeal of the Bolshevik Party, workers and soldiers of Petrograd took up arms against Kornilov’s rebellion. 

Together with the other Central Committee members, Dzerzhinsky helped arm the workers, form Red Guard units, and prepare them for combat. He was a member of the Petrograd Committee of Popular Struggle Against CounterRevolution, which helped to mobilise and arm the workers who had risen against the rebels. 

Kornilov made an attempt to enlist the services of the Polish officers who centred around the so-called Supreme Polish Military Committee in Petrograd. One of the goals.of the Committee, which was headed by members of the bourgeois National-Democratic Party, was to combat “ Bolshevism and defeatist propaganda in the army”. 

On September 2, the Polish Trybuna newspaper published Dzerzhinsky’s article “The Polish Allies of Kornilov”, which revealed that the Polish counter-revolutionary officers were involved in the Kornilov plot. On September 5, it was reprinted in the Russian Bolshevik Rabochy Put ( Workers’ Path) newspaper. “The Polish counter-revolution,” wrote Dzerzhinsky, “is not a myth, it is a reality with which not only the Polish but the Russian revolutionary democratic circles must reckon.” 

The efforts to suppress the counter-revolutionary rebellion brought the Party and the working people even closer together; the Bolsheviks were coming to dominate in the Soviets. In late August-early September 1917, both the Petrograd and the Moscow Soviets adopted Bolshevik resolutions on the issue of state power. The slogan “All Power to the Soviets!" was resurrected, but now it implied an armed uprising against the Provisional Government and the establishment of proletarian dictatorship. 

Acting on Lenin’s directions, the Party concentrated on preparing for an armed uprising. 

In the meantime, the revolutionary crisis was ripening. The situation required that Lenin return to the capital. On October 3, the Central Committee voted for Lenin’s return from Finland to Petrograd in order to “make constant and 77 close contacts possible”. On October 7, Lenin secretly arrived in Petrograd and began personally to supervise preparations for the uprising. 

Dzerzhinsky and the other Central Committee members were now accountable directly to him. They visited Lenin at his secret flat, informed him of the mood prevailing among the workers, the garrison soldiers and sailors, and received instructions from him. 

On October 10, Dzerzhinsky was present at the historic meeting of the Central Committee at which Lenin made a report on the current situation. His in-depth analysis of the domestic and international situation showed that an armed uprising was imminent, and could very well end in total success. All practical Party work, he stated, must be geared towards the uprising. The Central Committee adopted Lenin’s resolution by a vote of ten to two. The resolution read: “Recognising that an armed uprising is inevitable and quite ripe, the Central Committee suggests that all Party organisations be guided by this, and that all practical matters be discussed and resolved from this stand.” 

At the same meeting, Dzerzhinsky proposed that a Politbureau be formed to exercise political leadership over the preparations for the uprising. It was to comprise seven people and be headed by Lenin. 

During this time, Dzerzhinsky and other prominent Party members frequently spoke at factories urging the workers to join the organisational and technical work involved in preparations for the uprising. 

On October 12, a Revolutionary Military Committee (RMC) was set up at the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies on an order from the Party Central Committee. As one of its members, Dzerzhinsky was entrusted with ensuring the reliable protection of Smolny, the headquarters of the revolution, and with maintaining contacts with the city suburbs. 

The decisive events were already close at hand. On October 16, Dzerzhinsky was present at the extended Central Committee meeting at which Lenin delivered a report on the tasks to be tackled by the Party in preparation for the uprising. “The position,” said Lenin, “was clear—either Kornilov’s dictatorship or the dictatorship of the proletariat and the poorer strata of the peasantry... From a political 78 analysis of the class struggle in Russia and in Europe there emerged the necessity to pursue the most determined and most active policy, which could be only armed uprising." [78•1 

Dzerzhinsky took part in the debates following the report. He criticised those who vacillated when it came to setting the date of the uprising, claiming that it was not yet ripe nor well enough prepared technically. 

The Central Committee meeting elected the Revolutionary Military Centre to exercise leadership over the uprising. The members were Yakov Sverdlov, Joseph Stalin, Andrei Bubnov, Moissei Uritsky and Felix Dzerzhinsky. The Centre was incorporated in the Revolutionary Military Committee (RMC) and became its Party core. 

Soon after the extended Central Committee meeting, Smolny hosted an assembly of the Petrograd Party activists— about a hundred representatives of larger enterprises and army units. On behalf of the Central Committee, Dzerzhinsky made a report on the preparatory work to be done by the Petrograd Bosheviks before the uprising. He commented on Lenin’s resolutions of October 10 and 16, and called on Party activists to promote them in all possible ways. The assembly unanimously voted to begin the uprising immediately. 

The Central and Petrograd committees were thoroughly checking the city Party organisations’ readiness for the uprising and the strength of their links with workers, the soldiers of the Petrograd garrison and the sailors in the Baltic fleet. 

Beginning with October 20, twentv-four hour guard duty was introduced at the RMC, and regular contacts were maintained with the district Soviets, army units and battleships. The RMC Members of the Revolutionary Military Centre were busy for almost 24 hours a day and nearly forgot what sleep and rest meant. They received workers, soldiers, sailors, Party members, commanders of Red Guard detachments, Bolsheviks who arrived from Moscow, the Ural area, Siberia, the Ukraine, Byelorussia and the fighting fronts, listened to what they had to say, gave advice and directions, and kept in touch with factories and army units. 

RMC commissars, who were handpicked and instructed by Dzerzhinsky and Sverdlov, helped to attain a state of combat readiness in the troops and on battleships, and supervised and controlled the factories’ production and distribution of goods, especially military materiel. 

A tremendous amount of work fell to the lot of the Central Committee headed by Lenin. The CC meetings discussed reports on the developments at the fighting fronts, the convening of a congress of Soviets, the alignment of forces and reports of the MRC and its Party Centre, and gave detailed consideration to everything that was likely to be required for a successful armed uprising. 

In the decisive weeks and days just before the uprising, ties between the Central Committee and local Party branches were strengthened. The latter were given instructions and assistance through letters and personally by Bolshevik propaganda workers. Leaders of local Party branches and activists from among the workers, soldiers and peasants came to Petrograd whenever necessary. 

They were also doing a great deal of work required for successfully carrying out the Bolsheviks’ organisational, propaganda, military and technical plans. The Central Committee sent its representatives to the provinces to direct the uprising. 

The RSDLP(B) Central Committee acted as the headquarters of the revolution and worked along the principles of collective leadership. In the three months preceding the October Revolution it held over 30 meetings. 

On October 22, at the suggestion of the Central Committee, the Bolsheviks held the Day of the Petrograd Soviet, an inspection of the revolutionary forces before the decisive attack. Dzerzhinsky spoke at workers’ meetings in a number of city districts. 

The Party was also working to bring up to mark the armed forces of the revolution, the Red Guard detachments, which by October 22 numbered over 20,000 men. On that day, the first Petrograd conference of Red Guards was held, at which about 100 people, mostly Bolsheviks, assembled. Guided by Lenin’s advice and directions, the city Bolsheviks had managed to organise and train a competent body of men capable of prompt action. 

The Day of the Petrograd Soviet and the Red Guards’ conference declared seizure of power by the Bolsheviks as top priority. 

On the morning of October 24, an extraordinary meeting of the Central Committee took place. Dzerzhinsky was among those present, while Lenin was still working underground. The first CC decision obliged all members not to leave Smolny without the special permission of the Central Committee. 

On October 24, the Petrograd RSDLP(B) Committee passed a decision to immediately overthrow the Provisional Government and transfer state power over to the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies both in the centre and the provinces. The first unit of soldiers and Red Guards that was to seize the enemy strongholds marched off from Smolny on the morning of October 24 under Dzerzhinsky’s command. By night, the soldiers had captured the Central Telegraph. 

Soon after the seizure of the telegraph, Lenin instructed the RMC to promptly advise the Bolshevik organisations in other towns and regions that the armed uprising was under way. Closely following the progress of events, he urged the RMC to lose no time storming the Winter Palace and placing the Provisional Government under arrest. 

On October 24, Lenin left his secret flat, arrived at Smolny and assumed the immediate leadership of the uprising, which was rapidly gaining momentum. By the morning of October 25, all premises housing government bodies, with the exception of the Winter Palace, and all major strongholds were in the hands of the insurgents. 

That same day, under the guidance of the Bolshevik Party Central Committee, Petrograd workers, soldiers and sailors carried out the plan Lenin had mapped out for an armed uprising and overthrew the Provisional Government. The RMC made public Lenin’s appeal “To the Citizens of Russia!”, which stated in part: “The Provisional Government has been deposed. State power has passed into the hands of the organ of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies—the Revolutionary Military Committee, which heads the Petrograd proletariat and the garrison." [80•1 

On the night of October 25, the Second Congress of Soviets opened in Petrograd. It adopted Lenin’s address “To Workers, Peasants and Soldiers!” announcing that the uprising had been victorious. 

On the night of October 25, the storming of the Winter Palace began and lasted for several hours. At 2 a.m. on October 26, the last stronghold of counter-revolution fell. The members of the Provisional Government were taken into custody. 

On October 26 Lenin spoke at the Second Congress of Soviets on the issues of peace and land. The congress approved his decrees on peace and on land, and formed the first worker and peasant government, the Council of People’s Commissars headed by Lenin. 

Dzerzhinsky was a delegate at that historic congress. Speaking on behalf of the Polish proletariat on the subject of Lenin’s report on peace, he said: “The Polish proletariat has always fought side by side with the Russian proletariat. The Decree (on peace.—Auth.) has been enthusiastically welcomed by the Social-Democrats of Poland and Lithuania. We know that the only force capable of emancipating the world is the proletariat which is fighting for socialism. When socialism triumphs, capitalism will be smashed and national oppression will be abolished.” 

The congress elected Dzerzhinsky to the All-Russia Central Executive 

Committee. [81•1 

Notes 

[71•1] V. I. Lenin, “Speech in the Finland Station Square to Workers, Soldiers and Sailors, April 3 (16), 1917”, Collected Works, Vol.,41, 1969, p. 399. 

[73•1] V. I. Lenin, “The Seventh (April) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.),” Collected Works, Vol. 24, 1974, p. 298. 

[74•1] V. I. Lenin, “The Political Situation”, Collected Works, Vol. 25, 1964, p. 180. 

[74•2] Ibid., p. 179. 

[78•1] V. I. Lenin, “Meeting of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.), October 16 (29), 1917”, Collected Works, Vol. 26, 1964, pp. 191–92. 

[80•1] V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 26, 1964, p. 236. 

[81•1] The supreme legislative, administrative and controlling body of state authority in Soviet Russia in 1917–37.