Loyalist soldiers from Petrograd assault across the frozen sea to Kronstadt.

Loyalist soldiers from Petrograd assault across the frozen sea to Kronstadt.

One would think that looking at Russia in the early twentieth century would think that by 1921 they would be tired of revolutions and riots and would want to take a break for a while. However that was not the case at Kronstadt, a naval base off the mainland of Russia near Petrograd. This base was taken by Peter the Great in the eighteenth century and basically turned into an impenetrable island that was used as a deterrent to countries who would try to invade Russia from the sea. The sailors that were stationed there were loyal soviets and were committed to the Bolsheviks cause up until they realized that the Bolsheviks were no better than the Romanovs when they were in power. On February 28 upon realizing that they were supporting another dictatorship party they went into open rebellion and established marshal law on the island. “Anger at material deprivations was compounded by the authoritarian regime the Bolsheviks were building, which seemed to violate the spirit of the revolution that the sailors had helped win.” (SMSH) Loyal Bolsheviks such as a sailor named Petrichenko who separated from the main party led the Kronstadt Soviet and drafted fifteen articles that would be unanimously passed. This uprising was a serious problem for Lenin and the Bolsheviks in power in Moscow. Upon realizing how bad this could be on the newly formed communist regime reputation, a “media blackout” was ordered by Lenin and the island was quickly surrounded by the Red Army.

The water froze solid around the island and created access point for infantry soldiers to attack the island. This uprising needed to be crushed quickly and relatively silently because the civil war was the main concern for the men in power in Moscow. Therefore using the classic Russian strategy, Lenin denounced these freedom fighters as traitors and conspirers against the communist regime and branded them enemies of the state. On March 7 Petrograd opened up fire on the island and began a ten day bloodbath against the fortified base. Troops from Petrograd crossed the frozen sea and attempted to take the base by force. However this was a idiotic attempt due to the fact that they were crossing open, coverless ground and were slaughtered by the sailors in the base. However this proved effective in the long run because supplies started to dwindle and eventually the Red Army was able to surround the base from three sides and  commence their final assault on the base on March 16. The base was overrun and taken back by the communist forces. This small uprising hindered the Lenin led Bolsheviks reputation but inspired them to make the New Economic Plan and essentially change the way they were to run the country.

 

Sources:

Seventeen Moments in Soviet History (SMSH) – http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1921tenth&Year=1921

Photo- Russian State Film & Photo Archive at Krasnogorsk. 2000. – http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&show=images&SubjectID=1921kronshtadt&Year=1921&navi=byYear