Ninth of January 1905

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ninth of January 1905


(Bloody Sunday), the day of the mass shooting by the tsarist government on a peaceful march of more than 140,000 St. Petersburg workers, who were marching to the Winter Palace to present petitions to Nicholas II.

The march was planned by the monarchist organization the Assembly of Russian Factory and Plant Workers of St. Petersburg, which had been founded by the priest G. A. Gapon. During discussions of the petitions at workers’ meetings that were held at the beginning of a general strike in St. Petersburg, the Bolsheviks explained that the proletariat could obtain its rights only through revolutionary struggle. However, faith in the tsar was still so strong that the Bolsheviks were unable to stop the march, and therefore, they decided to participate in the demonstration.

The government called in troops from Pskov, Tallinn, Narva, Peterh of, and Tsarskoe Selo to reinforce the St. Petersburg garrison, and by January 9 more than 40,000 soldiers and police were concentrated in St. Petersburg. The plan to disperse the march was confirmed by the government on January 8 at a meeting in the office of the minister of internal affairs, P. D. Sviatopolk-Mirskii. The troops, consisting of more than 18 battalions, 21 squadrons, and eight sotnias (hundreds), were concentrated in the eight military districts into which the city was divided. On the evening of January 8 a delegation of the intelligentsia, including M. Gorky, visited the chairman of the cabinet of ministers, S. Iu. Witte, and presented an appeal, hoping to avoid bloodshed. Witte sent the delegation to Sviatopolk-Mirskii, who would not receive them.

Early in the morning on Sunday, January 9, tens of thousands of workers, including old men, women, and children, moved toward Palace Square from all districts of St. Petersburg carrying icons and portraits of the tsar. On the order of the governor-general of St. Petersburg, Grand Prince Vladimir Aleksandrovich, the troops fired on the workers; approximately 4,600 persons were killed and wounded. The news of the bloody reprisal against the workers of St. Petersburg provoked a nationwide wave of strikes under the slogan “down with the autocracy!” In January 1905 there were 444,000 strikers in 66 Russian cities. “It is in this awakening of the tremendous masses of the people to political consciousness and revolutionary struggle that the historical significance of Jan. 22, 1905, lies” (V. I. Lenin,Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 30, p. 310). The events of Jan. 9, 1905, marked the beginning of the Revolution of 1905-07 in Russia.


Istoriia KPSS, vol. 2. Moscow, 1966. Pages 23-29.


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