The Kornilov Betrayal(s)


After his successful repression of uprisings during the April Crisis, General Lavr Kornilov was appointed Supreme Commander of the Russian armed forces by Prime Minister Alexander Kerensky.  Kerensky tasked Kornilov with restoring the fighting capability of the Russian army, an undertaking the Kornilov had no intention of fulfilling as he had no confidence in the 2nd Coalition’s ability to compete in World War I or calm the Russian home front.  Kornilov saw the Provisional Government as a puppet of the Soviets and believed that it was his duty to end the practice of dual power.

On August 27, 1917 the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief led a military coup against the Russian Provisional Government in Petrograd.  Kornilov ordered General Krymov to lead the “Savage Division” and the Third Cavalry Corps in an assault on Petrograd.  Within 4 days General Krymov had committed suicide and the Soviet Red Guards quickly put down the uprising and arrested Kornilov and the rest of his conspirators.

While Kerensky implicitly approved of Kornilov’s actions, he was not hesitant to deny any connection between himself and the general.  Ultimately, Kerensky’s plotting would be revealed to the public and virtually all support of his government would dwindle.  This failed coup provided fuel for the political left to discredit Kerensky’s authority.  The Kornilov Affair would serve as a catalyst for the upcoming Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 (during which Kornilov would ironically escape his imprisonment and later fight the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War).  As a result of this “counter-revolutionary thrust”, the Soviet cause gained mass support and it became clear that the time for the Bolsheviks to assume power was fast approaching.

Sources Cited:

Image Source: kornilov.jpg

Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 287-288. Print.

4 Responses to “The Kornilov Betrayal(s)”

  1. September 17, 2013 at 1:55 am #

    Great post! I think your post is similar to mine in the fact that it really accentuates just how poorly things went for the Provisional Government after the initial revolutionary zeal wore off. Although spirits were high in February of 1917, the mood quickly turned when the new government did not live up to expectations. As you discussed in your post, the Kornilov affair served as fuel for the October revolution because it further discredited the authority of the Provisional Government (along with the continuation of World War I and Lenin’s “April Theses” like I discussed in my post).

  2. A. Nelson
    September 18, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    I concur! As with this nuanced assessment of the April Crisis (, this post highlights the importance of the Provisional Government’s mis-steps and the significance of the Kornilov affair to the erosion of popular support for the PG.

  3. piàta randki on line
    August 2, 2015 at 5:45 am #

    I couldn’t resist commenting

  4. LR 308
    December 16, 2015 at 8:14 am #

    The very core of your writing whilst sounding reasonable originally, did not really sit very well with me after some time. Somewhere throughout the sentences you managed to make me a believer but just for a short while. I nevertheless have a problem with your leaps in assumptions and one might do nicely to help fill in all those breaks. In the event you can accomplish that, I could certainly end up being fascinated.

Leave a Reply

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private.