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The Left SR uprising or Left SR revolt was a coup and other assassinations and uprisings against the Bolsheviks by the Left Socialist Revolutionary Party in 1918. The revolt started on 6 July 1918 and was aimed at restarting the war with Germany.[1] It was one of a number of left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks that took place during the Russian Civil War.



The revolt was led by the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries in Moscow. Previously, the Socialist Revolutionary Party had supported the continuation of the war by the Provisional Government after the February Revolution of 1917. The Bolshevik Party came to power in November 1917 through simultaneous election in the soviets and an organized uprising supported by military mutiny. Several of the main reasons the population supported the Bolsheviks were to end the war and have a social revolution, exemplified by the slogan "Peace, Land, Bread". The Bolsheviks invited left SRs and Martov's Menshevik Internationalists to join the government. Left SRs split from the main SR party and joined the Bolshevik coalition government, supporting the Bolsheviks immediate enactment of the Socialist Revolutionary Party's land redistribution program. The Left SRs were given four Commissar positions and held high posts within the Cheka. The Left SRs still diverged with the Bolsheviks on the issue of the war, and were dismayed that the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk gave up large amounts of territory. They left the government in protest in March 1918.

At the 5th All-Russia Congress of Soviets of July 4, 1918 the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries had 352 delegates compared to 745 Bolsheviks out of 1132 total. The Left SRs raised disagreements on the suppression of rival parties, the death penalty, and mainly, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The Bolsheviks excluded the Right SRs and Mensheviks from the government on 14 June for associating with counterrevolutionaries and seeking to "organize armed attacks against the workers and peasants", while the Left SRs advocated forming a government of all socialist parties. The Left SRs agreed with extrajudicial execution of political opponents to stop the counterrevolution, but opposed having the government legally pronouncing death sentences, an unusual position that is best understood within the context of the group's terrorist past. The Left SRs strongly opposed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and opposed Trotsky's insistence that nobody was allowed to attack German troops in the Ukraine.[2]


Defeated at the Congress, the Left S.R.s pursued their aim of sabotaging the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and dragging Soviet Russia back into war with Germany by using their positions within the Cheka to assassinate the German Ambassador in Moscow, Count Wilhelm von Mirbach, on July 6, 1918.3 The Leadership of the Left SRs incorrectly believed this assassination would lead to a widespread popular uprising in support of their aims. They claimed to be leading a revolt against the peace with Germany and not necessarily against the Bolsheviks and soviet power.[1]

The main rebel force was a detachment commanded by D. I. Popov, a Left S.R. and member of the Cheka. About 1,800 revolutionaries took part in the insurrection, bombarding the Kremlin with artillery and seizing the telephone exchange and telegraph office. During the two days that they remained in control there, they sent out several manifestos, bulletins and telegrams in the name of the Left S.R. Central Committee declaring that the Left S.R.s had taken over power and that their action had been welcomed by the whole people. The Fifth Congress of Soviets instructed the government to suppress the insurrection at once, and the group of Left S.R.s at the Congress was arrested.

Left S.R.s and some anarchists also started insurrections in Petrograd, Vologda, Arzamas, Murom, Yaroslavl, Velikiy Ustyug, Rybinsk and other cities. A telegram from the Left S. R. Central Committee stating that the Left S.R.s had seized power in Moscow, was sent to M. A. Muravyov, a Left S.R. and Commander of the Eastern Front. On the pretext of attacking the Germans, he seized Simbirsk (later Ulyanovsk) and tried to march his forces on Moscow in support of the left socialist revolutionaries. However, Muravyov couldnot convince his troops to oppose the bolsheviks, and was killed when arrested.

On Aug 30, 1918 Lenin survived an attempted assassination leaving a bullet in his neck -- a wound which has been speculated may have led to his stroke five years later. The SR terrorist Boris Savinkov claimed to have been financed by France to organize these revolts, though he did not claim to be responsibe for the assassination of Mirbach.[2]

The end result of the revolt was the suppression of the Left SRs, the last major independent party other than the Bolsheviks. Many SRs who did not participate were integrated into the Bolshevik Party afterward. In 1921, there was another SR led revolt called the Kronstadt Rebellion. The Left SRs collapsed as a party by 1922 and only existed as small cells through 1925.

During the Moscow Trials in 1937 it was claimed that Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev were involved in this plot.[3]

Iurii Georgievich Fel'shtinskii claimed the revolt was staged by the Bolsheviks as a pretext to discredit the Left SRs. However this was disputed by L. M. Ovrutskii and Anatolii Izrailevich Razgon.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Boniece, Sally A. - link "Don Quixotes of the Revolution"? The Left SRs as a Mass Political Movement. Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 5.1 (2004) 185-194
  2. ^ a b Carr, E.H. - The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923. W. W. Norton & Company 1985. (162-167)
  3. ^ Spitzer, Alan B. - John Dewey, the "Trial" of Leon Trotsky and the Search for Historical Truth. History and Theory, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Feb., 1990), pp. 16-37

See also

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