October Strikes of 1916
October Strikes of 1916
in Petrograd, a series of strikes that took place amid a growing revolutionary situation in Russia. The strikes were mainly political and reflected the mass protest of the proletariat against the antipopular policies of tsarism, against the war, and against the critical shortage of food.
In late September and early October the capital was hit by spontaneous food riots, accompanied by the sacking of stores. Striving to give the movement organization and conscious direction, the Petrograd Bolsheviks attempted to explain to workers the reasons for the food crisis. They called upon the working class to attend mass meetings and demonstrations and to widen their strike activities.
The October Strikes began on October 17 at the large metal-working plants in the Vyborg district. The strikers’ actions were supported by revolutionary soldiers of the 181st Reserve Infantry Regiment. The strikers and soldiers were dispersed only by the arrival of detachments of the Moscow Guard Regiment. On that and following days, the strike spread to enterprises in the Petrograd, Vasil’evskii Island, and Moscow districts and became a city-wide political strike. The number of strikers exceeded 83,000. Concluding that the aim of the strike had been attained, the St. Petersburg committee of the RSDLP called a halt to the strike, which ended on the morning of October 21.
However, the revolutionary mood continued to grow rapidly, as was evidenced by a second strike that began on October 26. This second strike was sparked by news of the trial, scheduled to begin that day, of 130 soldiers from the 181st Regiment and of members of the Kronstadt Squadron group of the RSDLP. The St. Petersburg committee of the RSDLP called upon the proletariat of the capital to stage a three-day political strike in defense of the lives of the revolutionary sailors and soldiers. The strike was accompanied by mass meetings and demonstrations in the Vyborg, Vasil’evskii Island, and Narva districts; there were also clashes between workers and police and gendarmes.
On October 27 and 28 the commander of the Petrograd Military District ordered the closing of 15 large enterprises for “an indefinite period” in the hope of ending the strike; 39,300 workers lost their jobs. In response, the workers heeded an appeal by the St. Petersburg committee of the RSDLP and agreed to strike until the lockout was ended. More than 91,000 men took part in the strike; the wave of political protests by the Petrograd proletariat saved the lives of the revolutionary sailors and compelled the authorities to end the lockout on November 1 and to reopen the plants. Strike-related demonstrations also took place in the industrial cities of the Central Zone, the Donbas, Transcaucasia, the Volga Region, and the Ukraine. The October Strikes of 1916 were a prologue to the bourgeois democratic revolution in Russia.
REFERENCESRabochee dvizhenie v Petrograde v 1912–1917 gg: Dokumenty i materialy. Leningrad, 1958.
Shliapnikov, A. Kanun 17–go g., 2nd ed., part 1. Moscow-Petrograd, 1923.
Istoriia rabochikh Leningrada, vol. 1. Leningrad, 1972. Pages 500–11.
I. P. LEIBEROV