Left Socialist-Revolutionary Revolt of 1918

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Left Socialist-Revolutionary Revolt of 1918


a counterrevolutionary action of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries (Left SR’s) on July 6–7 in Moscow, decided on by the Left SR Central Committee in order to wreck the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, provoke a war with Germany, and overthrow the Soviet government.

On July 5, At the Fifth All-Russian Congress of Soviets, the Left SR group of 352 delegates declared its lack of confidence in the Soviet government. However, the majority of delegates at the congress did not support the views of the Left SR’s, whereupon they resorted to acts of provocation. On July 6, the Left SR la. G. Bliumkin, who had forged a pass purportedly from the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission (All-Russian Cheka), gained access to the German embassy on Denezhnyi Lane (now Vesnin Street), killed the German ambassador, Count W. von Mirbach, and then took refuge in the headquarters of a Cheka detachment under the command of the Left SR D. I. Popov (on Trekhsviatitel’skii Lane, now Bol’shoi Vuzovskii Lane). A number of Left SR Central Committee members had gathered there, including M. A. Spiridonova, lu. V. Sablin, B. D. Kamkov, V. A. Karelin, P. P. Prosh’ian, and V. A. Aleksandrovich (vicechairman of the Cheka); they transformed the headquarters into the focal point of the rebellion. The insurgents arrested the chairman of the Cheka, F. E. Dzerzhinskii, who had come to them with the demand that the assassins be surrendered. Subsequently they arrested M. I. Lācis, who had been appointed provisional chairman of the Cheka, P. G. Smidovich, chairman of the Moscow Soviet, and 27 other Communists. On the night of July 7, the insurgents, consisting of about 1,800 men, 80 cavalry, six to eight artillery pieces, and four armored cars, according to data compiled by N. I. Podvoiskii, began the insurrection under the leadership of Popov, Sablin, and Aleksandrovich. They occupied the central telegraph office and appealed to the Moscow garrison to join the rebellion.

The suppression of the revolt was directed by V. I. Lenin, with the immediate supervision of military operations entrusted to the chairman of the Supreme Military Inspectorate, N. I. Podvoiskii, and the commander of the Latvian Rifle Division, I. I. Vācietis (Vatsetis). The soviets, party committees, and Communist delegates at the Congress of Soviets mobilized the workers of the capital to combat the insurgents. During the night the Latvian units were brought up (about 720 infantry, 70 cavalry, a machine-gun unit, 12 artillery pieces, and four armored cars). At 6 a.m. on July 7 they began the attack. When the insurgents refused to surrender, an artillery bombardment of their headquarters was begun. After several hours the revolt was suppressed, with some 300 insurgents taken into custody. Lenin characterized the revolt as “senseless and criminal folly” and a “mad attempt … to embroil us in war by assassinating Mirbach” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 36, pp. 525, 532), and he referred to the leaders of the revolt as “empty-headed” hysterical intellectuals “who have turned out to be henchmen of the White Guards, the landowners, and the capitalists” (ibid., p. 526; see also p. 531).

On July 8, 13 insurrectionists, including Aleksandrovich, all of whom had been captured with arms in their possession, were shot by order of the Cheka. On Nov. 27, 1918, the Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal, having reviewed the case against the organizers of the revolt, sentenced Popov in absentia to death by firing squad; Popov had managed to escape and was in hiding. Nine members of the Left SR Central Committee were sentenced in absentia to three years imprisonment (including Prosh’ian, Kamkov, and Karelin). Bliumkin, Andreev, Spiridonova, and Sablin were sentenced in absentia to one year imprisonment, but on November 29 the latter two were amnestied by the AllRussian Central Executive Committee because of their earlier services to the revolution.

After the revolt in Moscow, there was a revolt on the Eastern Front, organized by the commander in chief of the front, the Left SR leader M. A. Murav’ev. Arriving in Simbirsk on July 11 with a detachment of 1,000 men from Kazan, the front headquarters, Murav’ev occupied a number of points in Simbirsk and arrested the leading Soviet personnel, including the commander of the First Army, M. N. Tukhachevskii. The Communists who had not been arrested, led by the chairman of the province party committee, J. M. Vareikis, disarmed the insurgents and ended the rebellion. Armed clashes also occurred when Left SR combat squads were disarmed in several other cities, including Petrograd, Vitebsk, Vladimir, and Orsha.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.