Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Kornilov Affair

General Lavr Kornilov became the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed forces on July 18, 1917.  He was seen by the people of Russia as a hero after he returned from being held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Hungary.  When he returned and was exalted, he was determined to end the disorder of the revolution.


Kornilov ordered an assault on Petrograd (Saint Petersburg) on August 27, 1917.  He did this because he held the Provisional Government responsible for the chaos in Russia, and deemed it unworthy of survival.  Aleksandr Kerenskii, leader of the Provisional Government, did not want to abolish the Soviet institution, just to slow it down.  Kornilov did not agree and decided that this government needed to go.

The assault was a terrible failure.  General Krymov, appointed to lead the assault, had committed suicide and Kornilov and the other leaders of the movement were under arrest.  The Soviets were so well organized and clearly passionate about what they were doing; they could not be beaten.

This attempted assault proved that the Soviets, particularly the Bolsheviks, were stronger and that they were determined to realize “all power” of Russia.  The Provisional Government was severely comprised after the Kornilov affair, giving the Soviets more momentum and making Lenin’s goal that much closer to realization.


Read more about the Kornilov Affair here:

Photograph & more information on General Kornilov:

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The Intentions of the October Manifesto


In the aftermath of Bloody Sunday, Nicholas II issued the October Manifesto.  This document was an effort to end the autocracy of the Russian empire, create a constitutional monarchy, guarantee certain civil liberties to citizens, and include more socio-economic classes in the political process.  This could be compared to the Articles in Confederation in the United States: it put forth a good effort in governing its people, but it just didn’t cut it.

If you look into the events leading up to the October Manifesto, you may also find that the intentions of Nicholas II were not as civil as the document may imply.  He did not issue the manifesto out of good-will and want for change, it was out of desperation.

The people of Russia expressed their desperation for change with Bloody Sunday and it was reiterated time after time with peasant revolts.  Britain was pressuring the imperial government to change its’ policies and to stop its’ obvious antisemitism.  The Russo-Japanese war was also particularly embarrassing for the tsar due to his own army mutinying and losing the lives of many Russian soldiers.  Nicholas II needed to show the people of Russia and leaders of other countries that he was actively implementing change to their benefit, whether he wanted to or not.  Count Witte, his adviser, even told the tsar that repression would not work because the army was disloyal and a constitutional document was the only choice.

I believe that intention is everything.  For that reason, I believe that the October Manifesto, which was the precedent for the Fundamental Laws (constitution), did not work in the long run because its’ intention was not to improve Russia.  Its’ intention was to appease the revolutionaries and to divide them in order to weaken the revolution.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think that Nicholas II was forced to issue the October Manifesto or did he have other options and chose this route?



The October Manifesto:



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Jews in Russia: Paled in Comparison to Other Ethnic Groups

Screen shot 2013-09-01 at 9.45.39 PM
Group of Jewish Children with a Teacher

Russia is and always was a place of great ethnic diversity.  Being so large geographically, how could it not be?  Not all ethnic groups were treated equally.  The Jews living in Imperial Russia suffered legal discrimination and were blamed for many problems in the empire.

The photo taken here by Prokudin-Gorskii shows a group of young children learning with a Jewish teacher.  All seems well in this photograph, but what this picture does not portray is the persecution that they likely suffered by living in Imperial Russia as Jews.

The Pale of Settlement was a region of czarist Russia where Jewish settlement was allowed and beyond which Jewish movement was restricted.  The Pale covered the area between the Baltic and the Black Sea.  This territory was acquired during the late 1700’s-early 1800’s in military conquests.  Many Jews already lived in this area and were for the most part required to stay there.


First created by Catherine the Great for economic and nationalist purposes, the Pale of Settlement turned into a region closely associated with antisemitism.  There were large numbers of Jews living there in shtetls, or small towns with a large Jewish population.  The high concentration of people in these areas led to a poverty-stricken population.  On top of that, it made it easy for antisemitic mobs to riot and terrorize those people.

Many pogroms, a violent persecution, were aimed at Jews at this time.  They were not only forced to live in one place and restricted from another, but they were physically attacked by antisemitic mobs.  The pogroms of 1881-1884 were very notable.  The Jews were wrongly blamed for the assassination of  Tsar Alexander II.

An ethnic group, the Jews, being blamed for a problem and consequently being exiled, attacked, and even killed.  Sound familiar?

This type of religious and ethnic purging is characteristic of a regime beginning to shift.  Things always get out of hand when a big change is about to happen, which is definitely the case here.  Russia was on the verge of a major revolution and this is a tell-tale sign of that.

What do you think?  What does the Pale of Settlement mean to you in regards to leading up to the Soviet Union?

Read more about this topic at these links:
Prokudin Gorskii –
The Pale of Settlement –
Catherine the Great –
The pogroms –

***After reading many comments, I feel that I should update this and post this link to the history of Bukharan Jews.  In the 1880’s, there was a mass exodus of Jews to Samarkand, where the above picture was taken by Prokudin-Gorskii.  The goal of this blog post was to shed light on the persecution of the Jews in imperial Russia, focusing on the Pale of Settlement.  Just as some minorities are discriminated against in certain parts of our own country and not in others, the same concept applies to imperial Russia.  There are always exceptions.  This photo just led me to discover what life was like for the Jewish community in the Pale, even though the setting and the conditions of the photograph were not exactly the same.  It was simply the beginning to a route that I took to learn something new about a people and and an area that I have a limited knowledge of.


September 2, 2013 · 2:06 AM