Revolutionary Military Committees RMC
Revolutionary Military Committees (RMC)
in Russia, combat groups set up by the Bolshevik Party organizations, as a rule under the Soviets of workers and soldiers’ deputies during the preparation and implementation of the Great October Socialist Revolution (October 1917-March 1918). The revolutionary military committees were a powerful tool for leading the uprising and establishing and consolidating Soviet power. They functioned as provisional extraordinary organs of proletarian rule.
It was V. I. Lenin’s idea to organize a combat center to plan the armed uprising for the seizure of power by workers, soldiers, and toiling peasants. In the letter “Marxism and Insurrection,” sent in September 1917 to the Central Committee of the RSDLP (Bolshevik), Lenin, putting the task of preparation for an armed uprising on the agenda, wrote: “In order to treat insurrection in a Marxist way, i.e., as an art, we must at the same time without losing a single moment organize a headquarters of the insurgent detachments” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 34, p. 247). The decisions of the Central Committee of the RSDLP (Bolshevik) on Oct. 10 (23) and 16 (29), 1917, to intensify preparation for the uprising speeded the formation of the bases at the center and in the provinces. The revolutionary military committees were elected from representatives of the Bolshevik Party, the soviets, trade unions, factory and plant trade union committees, soldiers’ committees, the military organizations of the Bolsheviks, the Red Guard, and so forth. There were province, city, district, raion, and volost (small rural district) revolutionary military committees, and in the army there were front, army, corps, division, and regimental revolutionary military committees. In some cases the functions of the RMC were carried out by revolutionary committees. The revolutionary military committees had a heterogeneous social and political composition. Representatives of the Bolsheviks predominated in most of them.
The first headquarters of the armed uprising was the Petrograd RMC, which was set up by the Petrograd soviet on Oct. 12 (25), 1917. By the time of the victory of the uprising in Petrograd, there were more than 40 revolutionary military committees in the country whose basic activity amounted to the preparation of war materiel for the impending uprising.
Many revolutionary military committees sprang up in the period of the triumphal march of Soviet power. The Moscow RMC was set up on October 25 (November 7). Many revolutionary military committees were formed on the initiative of delegates to the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies when they returned to their provinces. Upon the directive of the Central Committee of the RSDLP (Bolshevik) the Petrograd RMC sent a large detachment of commissars, emissaries, and agitators on missions to different regions of the country. The Bolshevik Party directed experienced organizers to work in the revolutionary military committees.
The Estonian Krai RMC, which was set up on October 22 (November 4), included I. V. Rabchinskii (chairman), I. I. Anvelt, and V. E. Kingisepp. The RMC of the region of the Twelfth Army, which was set up on October 18 (31) and worked clandestinely in Cēsis until October 26 (November 8), included I. Čariņš, A. G. Vasil’ev, K. A. Gailis, and I. M. Krūmiņš. The Minsk RMC, set up on October 27 (November 9) and renamed in early November as the RMC of the Western Front and of the Northwestern Oblast, included A. F. Miasnikov (chairman), M. I. Kalmanovich, V. G. Knorin, and K. I. Lander. The chairman of the Pskov RMC, set up on October 22-23 (November 4-5) and renamed the RMC of the Northern Front on October 26 (November 8), was V. L. Paniushkin. The chairman of the Smolensk revolutionary committee, set up on October 29 (November 11), was S. S. loffe. The chairman of the RMC of the Southwestern Front, set up on November 18 (December 1), was G. V. Razzhivin, and the deputy chairman was V.I. Kikvidze. The RMC of the Rumanian Front, set up on Dec. 2 (15), 1918, included P. I. Baranov (chairman), A. S. Krusser, M. N. Troitskii, and V. G. ludovskii. The Kiev RMC, set up on Oct. 29 (Nov. 11), 1917, included L. L. Piatakov, A. V. Ivanov, V. P. Zatonskii, I. Kudrin, A. E. Karpenko, M. S. Bogdanov, and A. B. Gorvits. The Kiev revolutionary committee, which was set up on Jan. 15 (28), 1918, included A. V. Ivanov, M. S. Bogdanov, la. B. Gamarnik, A. B. Gorvits, M. Kostiuk, I. Kudrin, N. N.Lebedev, and I. M. Kreisberg. The Kharkov RMC, reestablished on Dec. 10 (23), 1917, included Artem (F. A. Sergeev; chairman), V. I. Mezhlauk, and M. L. Rukhimovich. Other committees included the Ekaterinburg RMC, N. N. Krestinskii, chairman; the Vinnitsa RMC, N. P. Tarnogrodskii, chairman; the Odessa RMC, V. G. ludovskii, chairman; and the Simferopol’ RMC, Zh. A. Miller, chairman. The chairman of the Sevastopol’ revolutionary committee, set up on Dec. 16 (29), 1917, was lu. P. Gaven. The chairman of the Voronezh revolutionary committee, set up on October 25 (November 7), was A. S. Moiseev. The chairman of the Tula revolutionary committee, set up on October 27 (November 9), was G. N. Kaminskii. The chairman of the Astrakhan revolutionary committee, set up in January 1918, was M. L. Aristov. The chairman of the Shuia RMC was M. V. Frunze. The chairman of the Samara RMC, set up on October 27 (November 9), was V. V. Kuibyshev. The chairman of the Orenburg RMC, set up on Nov. 14 (27), 1917, was S. M. Tsvilling. The chairman of the Riazan’ RMC, set up on Oct. 26 (Nov. 8), 1917, was A. S. Syromiatnikov. The chairman of the Barnaul RMC, set up on Dec. 7 (20), 1917, was M. K. Tsaplin. The chairman of the Dagestan RMC, set up on Nov. 8 (21), was lu. D. Buinakskii. The chairman of the Kuban-Black Sea RMC, set up on Jan. 17 (30), 1918, was la. V. Poluian. The chairman of the Caucasus Army RMC, set up on Dec. 28, 1917 (Jan. 10, 1918), was G. N. Korganov, and the deputy chairman was B. P. Sheboldaev. The chairman of the Tomsk RMC, set up on Oct. 28 (Nov. 10), 1917, was A. I. Belenets. The chairman of the Semirech’e RMC, set up on Mar. 2, 1918, was P. M. Vinogradov. On Jan. 10 (23), 1918, the Don RMC was set up under the chairmanship of the cossacks G. F. Podtelkov and M. V. Krivoshlykov. During the establishment and consolidation of Soviet power more than 220 revolutionary military committees were set up in various localities.
The local revolutionary military committees acted in concert with the Sovnarkom (Council of People’s Commissars) and the Petrograd RMC and enjoyed their political, military, and financial support. On Nov. 6 (19), 1917, Pravda published, with Lenin’s signature, the Sovnarkom appeal “;To the Population,” which called on the masses to provide bold creative solutions to the pressing questions of the revolution without waiting for directives from the center. Under the leadership of the revolutionary military committees, detachments of the Red Guard and revolutionary soldiers took power into their hands, in some cases without armed struggle, in other cases overcoming the armed resistance of the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie. They removed officials and abolished the institutions of the Provisional Government, the committees of salvation, bourgeois and petit-bourgeois newspapers, and other counterrevolutionary bodies. The revolutionary military committees established control over communications and transportation, supply organs, arsenals, and military garrison headquarters. They fought for revolutionary order and against speculators, employers who locked out their employees, and saboteurs. The committees organized the work of transportation and of supply organs, as well as aid in the form of food to Petrograd, Moscow, and the front. Acting as plenary organs of the Soviet government, the revolutionary military committees implemented the decrees of Soviet power and the resolutions of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and of the Sovnarkom; they organized reelections of Soviets that had compromised with the enemies and reelections of soldiers’ committees, participated in the nationalization of enterprises, and summoned oblast and provincial congresses of soviets. The revolutionary military committees interpreted the Decree on Land to the peasants, convoked peasant congresses, and promoted the merger of the Soviets of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies with the Soviets of peasant deputies. The committees of the fronts organized the conclusion of truces on the Russian-German front. The revolutionary military committees published bulletins, newspapers, and leaflets. In a number of regions the committees held congresses, conferences, and plenary sessions, which played an important role in strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat. During the Civil War clandestine revolutionary military committees were set up in territories occupied by the White Guards and foreign forces.
As the Soviet state apparatus was organized and as Soviet power was consolidated in the center and in the provinces, the need for revolutionary military committees and revolutionary committees lessened. Full power was concentrated in the hands of the Soviets of workers’, soldiers’, and peasants’ deputies. The revolutionary military committees and the revolutionary committees were abolished at different places at different times depending on the specific conditions.
REFERENCESLenin, V. I. “Marksizmi vosstanie.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 34.
“ Ankety Sovetov Tsentral’no-promyshlennovo raiona (oktiabr’ 1917 g.-ianvar’ 1918 g).” Istoricheskii arkhiv, 1960, no. 5.
Bor’ba za ustanovlenie i uprochenie sovetskoi vlasti: Khronika sobytii 26 oktiabria 1917-10 ianvaria 1918 gg. Moscow, 1962.
Triumfal’noe shestvie Sovetskoi vlasti. Parts 1-2: “Dokumenty i materialy.” (In the series Velikaia Oktiabr’skaia sotsialisticheskaia revoliutsiia). Moscow, 1963.
Istoriia KPSS, vol. 3, book 1. Moscow, 1967. Pages 291-431.
Istoriia SSSR s drevneishikh vremen do nashikh dnei, vol. 7. Moscow, 1967. Pages 159-240.
A. F. RASSTRIGIN