Russian Revolution at 100: Welcome to Kronstadt Revolt

The Kronstadt rebellion took place in March, 1921.  Located on an island in the Gulf of Finland, Kronstadt is a naval fortress on an island in the Gulf of Finland which has served as the base of the Russian Baltic Fleet and to guard the city of St. Petersburg thirty-five miles away.

Russian naval ships at the Kronstadt base.

Kronstadt sailors had been early supporters of the revolution, but soon frictions would emerge.  In 1921, the sailors sympathized with a wave of urban strikes against the Bolsheviks and demanded free elections within the Soviets, freedom of speech, and freedom to assemble for peasants, anarchists and left-socialists.

Submarine hull at Kronstadt.

Kronstadt turned against the Communist government while promoting the slogan of the 1917 revolution “All Power to the Soviets,” to which was added “and not to parties.” The sailors coined their revolt as the “Third Revolution” which would complete the work of the first two Russian Revolutions in 1917.

The Communist Government claimed the revolt had “undoubtedly been prepared by French counterintelligence” and ex-Czarist officers.  After 10 days of constant attack the Kronstadt revolt was crushed by the Red Army. The Soviet forces suffered over 10,000 casualties storming Kronstadt, though it is not known how many rebels were shot by the Cheka or sent to prison camps.

Naval cadet at Kronstadt.
Kitschy items for sale at a gift shop on Kronstadt.

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