Revolution of november 1917

   The revolution that brought the Bolshevik Party to power in Petrograd in November 1917 was little more than a military putsch. The provisional government that had come to power following the March Revolution had little credibility in the countryside. Divided among radical and liberal parties, it had lost control of the army garrison in Petrograd and lacked any security service to protect it from enemies on the left and right. In Petrograd, the Soviet, composed of radical parties but dominated by the Bolsheviks, occupied the power vacuum left by the death of imperial authority.
   Vladimir Lenin saw strategic and tactical opportunities in the situation in Petrograd. He ordered that his senior subordinates, including Leon Trotsky and Feliks Dzerzhinsky, arm Red Guards to form an organized Bolshevik militia capable of seizing power. Lenin also insisted on tight operational security in the run-up to the putsch. Agents of the Bolsheviks, called commissars, worked with naval and army units around the capital. This ensured that the party would not face an organized resistance. The storming of the Winter Palace on the evening of 7 November went off like clockwork in large part because of Lenin’s planning and the gross incompetence of his adversaries.
   The November revolution did not create Soviet power in Russia; it took five years of civil war and several million dead to accomplish that. Rather the events of 7 November signaled the Bolsheviks’ willingness to seize and hold power by any means necessary. Many of the leaders of the November Revolution were appointed to the new Soviet security service, the Cheka, in December 1917.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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