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Russian History: XX century

Russian History: XIX entury

Krupskaya's Reminiscences of Lenin

On the next day, December 15, Ilyich spoke at the Second All-Russian Congress of Peasants' Deputies at which Spiridonova presided. The congress was a very stormy one. The Right S.-R.'s walked out.

It became increasingly clear that a sharp struggle would break out over the Constituent Assembly, vacillations and Right-wing moods began to make themselves felt among the Bolshevik group of the Constituent Assembly. A meeting of the Party Central Committee devoted to this question was held on December 24. It was decided to have a C.C. report made at the group of the Constituent Assembly and theses drafted on the question of the Constituent Assembly. Lenin was entrusted with both tasks. He drew up the theses and the next day made a report in Smolny at a meeting of the Bolshevik group or the Constituent Assembly. The theses were unanimously adopted and published the next day in Pravda. They set before the Constituent Assembly a clear demand: recognition of the Soviet Government and of the revolutionary policy that it was pursuing on the questions of peace, the land, workers' inspection and the struggle with the counter-revolution.

The opening of the Constituent Assembly was fixed for January 18, 1918.

The preparations for the Constituent Assembly, which the Party, under Ilyich's leadership, had been making with such care and thoroughness, were an important phase in the consolidation of the Soviet power; it was a struggle against formal bourgeois democracy for genuine democracy enabling the working masses to develop immense revolutionary activities in all fields of socialist construction.

The work done in connection with the convocation of the Constituent Assembly showed how, step by step, it had struck deep-root among the masses and gained their support, how it had organized the masses for the struggle, and helped the Soviet and Party cadres to form close links with the masses.

A great deal still remained to be done in the way of organizing preparations for and conducting the Constituent Assembly.

The Right Socialist-Revolutionaries were pressing for a fight against the Bolsheviks. The extreme Right-wingers set up a military organization, which made an abortive attempt on Lenin's life on January 1. This organization made active preparations for an armed revolt, which was planned for January 18, the opening day of the Constituent Assembly. Although the Central Committee of the S.-R. party did not officially support this military organization, it was aware of its activities and shut its eyes to them. This military organization associated itself with the Constituent Assembly Defence League, whose object was to coordinate the activities of all the anti-Bolshevik organizations. The Defence League consisted of extreme Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, Menshevik Defencists, Popular Socialists, and certain Constitutional Democrats. Although it developed a great activity, the Defence League did not succeed in winning over to its side either the workers or the garrison of Petrograd.

The demonstration of January 18 was a one-sided limited affair, but rumours were rife in town that an armed revolt was being prepared. The Bolsheviks got ready to face it. The Constituent Assembly was to meet at the Taurida Palace. A military staff was set up. Among its members were Sverdlov, Podvoisky, Proshyan, Uritsky and Bonch-Bruyevich. The city and the Smolny area were marked off into sectors, and the workers volunteered to guard them. The crew of the cruiser Aurora and two companies of the battleship Respublika were called out to guard the Palace and patrol the streets in the vicinity. The armed revolt which the Constituent Assembly Defence League had been planning did not come off. Its hybrid demonstration, held under the slogan of "All Power to the Constituent Assembly," came up against our workers demonstration marching under the slogan of "Long Live the Soviet Power" at the corner of Nevsky and Liteiny prospekts. There was an armed clash, which was quickly liquidated. Bonch-Bruyevich was as busy as can be, phoning, giving orders, and surrounding Ilyich's trip to the Palace with the greatest secrecy. He rode with Ilyich in the car himself, I, Maria Ilyinichna, and Vera Bench Bruyevich being the other occupants. We drove up to the Taurida Palace by way of a side-street. The gates were locked, but on the horn giving the pre-arranged signal, they were opened to let us through and then locked again. The guard conducted us into a special apartment set aside for Ilyich. It was somewhere on the right side of the main entrance, and the way to the meeting hall ran through a glassed-in passage. The main entrance had a queue of delegates and crowds of spectators standing round it, and of course it was more convenient for Ilyich to use a different entrance. But all this mysterious theatricality rather irritated him. We sat drinking tea, talking to the different comrades who came in. I remember Kollontai and Dybenko among others. We sat there rather long, as a meeting of the Bolshevik group was in progress, and it was a pretty stormy one. Varvara Yakovleva, a Muscovite was in the chair. The Muscovites stood firm on the question of the Constituent Assembly, and some of them even went a bit too farthey were for breaking up the Constituent Assembly at once, overlooking the fact that things had to be done in such a way that the masses would clearly realize why the Constituent Assembly had to be dismissed.

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