Memorandum on the Question of Organizing an Uprising in Kronstadt*
Top Secret 1921
Top Secret 1921
Information emanating from Kronstadt compels one to believe that during the coming spring an uprising will erupt in Kronstadt. If its preparation receives some outside support, one may count entirely on the success of the rising, towards which the following circumstances will be favorable.
At the present time, concentrated in Kronstadt harbor are all the vessels of the Baltic Fleet, which still maintain their military importance. In this connection, the predominant force in Kronstadt rests with the sailors of the active fleet, as well as the sailors on shore duty in the Kronstadt Fortress. All power is concentrated in the hands of a small group of Communist sailors (the local Soviet, the Cheka, the Revolutionary Tribunal, the commissars and party collectives of the ships, and so on). The rest of the garrison and the workers of Kronstadt do not play a significant role. Meanwhile, one can observe among the sailors numerous and unmistakable signs of mass discontent with the existing order. The sailors unanimously will join the ranks of the insurgents, once a small group of individuals by quick and decisive action seizes power in Kronstadt. Among the sailors such a group has already been formed, ready and able to take the most energetic actions.
The Soviet government is well informed about the hostile attitude of the sailors. In this connection, the Soviet government has seen to it that not more than a week's supply of food is available in Kronstadt at any one time, whereas in the past food was shipped to the Kronstadt warehouses for a whole month. So great is the distrust of the sailors by the Soviet authorities that a Red Army infantry regiment has been assigned to guard the routes to Kronstadt across the ice which covers the Finnish Gulf at the present time. But, in the event of an uprising, this regiment will not be able to offer the sailors any serious opposition, for if the rising is properly prepared, the regiment will be taken unawares by the sailors.
* "Dokladnaia zapiska po voprosu ob organizatsii vosstaniia v Kronshtadte," manuscript, Columbia Russian Archive. (Translated by the author.)
The seizure of authority over the fleet and over the fortifications of Kronstadt itself will insure the rebellion's ascendancy over all other forts not situated in the immediate vicinity of Kotlin Island. The artillery of these forts have an angle of fire which will not enable them to shoot at Kronstadt, whereas the batteries of Kronstadt are able to direct their fire at the forts (Fort "Obruchev," which rose in rebellion in May 1919, surrendered half an hour after the Kronstadt batteries opened fire on it).
The only conceivable military resistance to the uprising immediately after it has begun would be for the Bolsheviks to open fire on Kronstadt from the batteries of Krasnaya Gorka (the fort situated on the mainland on the southern coast of the Finnish Gulf). But the artillery of Krasnaya Gorka is completely powerless before the artillery of the ships and batteries of Kronstadt. On the ships in Kronstadt there are at least 32 twelve-inch and 8 ten-inch guns (not counting the guns of smaller caliber, about whose condition there is no reliable information). On Krasnaya Gorka there are only 8 twelve-inch and 4 eight-inch guns; the rest of the guns of Krasnaya Gorka are of insufficient caliber to be of harm to Kronstadt. In addition, the entire supply of shells for the artillery of Kronstadt, Krasnaya Gorka, and the Baltic Fleet are kept in the powder magazines of Kronstadt and will thus be in rebel hands. Therefore, the Bolsheviks will not be able to suppress the uprising in Kronstadt by artillery fire from the batteries of Krasnaya Gorka. On the contrary,
one must assume that, in case of an artillery duel between Krasnaya Gorka and Kronstadt, the latter will win (the rising at Krasnaya Gorka in May [June] 1919 was suppressed by Kronstadt after a four-hour bombardment which leveled all the buildings in the Krasnaya Gorka area—the Bolsheviks themselves forbade firing directly at the Krasnaya Gorka batteries in order to preserve them for later use).
From the above it is clear that exceptionally favorable circumstances exist for the success of a Kronstadt uprising:
(1) the presence of a closely knit group of energetic organizers for the rising;
(2) a corresponding inclination towards rebellion among the sailors;
(3) the small area of operations delimited by Kronstadt's narrow contours, which will insure the total success of the uprising; and
(4) the possibility of preparing the rising in full secrecy, which is afforded by Kronstadt's isolation from Russia and by thevhomogeneity and solidarity among the sailors.
If the rebellion is successful, the Bolsheviks, having neither combat-ready ships outside of Kronstadt nor the possibility of concentrating land-based artillery of sufficient power to silence the Kronstadt batteries (particularly in view of Krasnaya Gorka's uselessness against them), will not be in a position to take Kronstadt by shore bombardment or by a coordinated troop landing.*1 It is noteworthy, moreover, that the Kronstadt Fortress and the operational fleet is equipped with anti-invasion artillery so numerous as to create an impenetrable blanket of fire. In order to carry out a landing, it would first be necessary to silence this artillery, a task which the Bolsheviks will be powerless to carry out in view of the support that the heavy guns of Kronstadt and of its fleet will give to the anti-invasion artillery.
In view of the above, the military situation in Kronstadt following the uprising may be regarded as completely secure,and the base will be able to hold out as long as it has to.
*1 The author of the memorandum assumes that the rising will occur after the ice has melted.
However, the internal living conditions after the rebellion may prove fatal for Kronstadt. There is enough food to last only for a few days after the uprising. If Kronstadt is not supplied immediately after the overturn, and if the future supply of Kronstadt is not properly assured, then the inevitable hunger will force Kronstadt to fall again under the authority of the Bolsheviks. Russian anti-Bolshevik organizations are not strong enough to solve this food problem and are compelled to turn for aid to the French government.
In order to avoid any delay in supplying Kronstadt with food immediately after the uprising, it is necessary that before the appointed time appropriate stores of food be placed on transport vessels which will wait in ports of the Baltic Sea for orders to proceed to Kronstadt.
Apart from the surrender of Kronstadt to the Bolsheviks if food is not provided, there arises the danger of a breakdown of the morale among the rebels themselves, as a result of which Bolshevik authority may be restored in Krondstadt. Such a breakdown in morale would be inevitable if the insurgent sailors were not to receive assurances of sympathy and support from the outside, in particular from the Russian Army commanded by General Wrangel, and also if the sailors were to feel isolated from the rest of Russia by sensing the impossibility of a further development of the rebellion towards the overthrow of Soviet power in Russia itself.
In this regard, it would be extremely desirable that in the shortest possible time after the rising is carried out some French vessels should arrive in Kronstadt, symbolizing the presence of French assistance. Even more desirable would be the arrival in Kronstadt of some units of the Russian Army. For the selection of such units, preference ought to be given to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, now located in Bizerte, for the arrival of Black Sea sailors to help the sailors of the Baltic Fleet would arouse incomparable enthusiasm among the latter. It must also be kept in mind that one cannot count on the orderly organization of authority in Kronstadt, especially in the first days after the overturn, and that in this connection the arrival of units of the Russian Army or fleet under General Wrangel's command would have extremely beneficial effects, inasmuch as all authority in Kronstadt would automatically devolve upon the ranking officer of these units.
Furthermore, if one assumes that military operations will be launched from Kronstadt to overthrow Soviet authority in Russia, then for this purpose also the dispatch to Kronstadt of General Wrangel's Russian armed forces would be needed. In connection with this, it is appropriate to mention that for such operations—or merely for the threat of such operations—Kronstadt can serve as an invulnerable base. The nearest object of action from Kronstadt would be defenseless Petrograd, whose conquest would mean that half the battle against the Bolsheviks shall have been won.
If, however, a further campaign from Kronstadt against Soviet Russia were for some reason deemed undesirable in the near future, then the fact that Kronstadt had been fortified with anti-Bolshevik Russian troops, acting in concert with the French Command, would still have considerable significance in the development of the overall military and political situation in Europe during the course of the coming spring.
It is necessary, however, to bear in mind that if the initial success of the rising in Kronstadt is cut short because of the inadequate supply of Kronstadt with food, or because of the demoralization of the Baltic sailors and the Kronstadt garrison for lack of moral and military support, then a situation will obtain in which Soviet authority is not weakened but strengthened and its enemies discredited.
In view of the above, Russian anti-Bolshevik organizations should hold the position that they must refrain from contributing to the success of the Kronstadt rebellion if they do not have the full assurance that the French government has decided to take the appropriate steps in this regard, in particular:
(1) has taken upon itself to provide financial support for the preparation of the uprising, which for a favorable outcome would require an exceedingly small sum, perhaps in the neighborhood of 200 thousand francs;
(2) has taken upon itself the further financing of Kronstadt after the overturn has been carried out;
(3) has taken steps to supply Kronstadt with food and has assured the arrival of the first food deliveries immediately after the overturn in Kronstadt has been accomplished; and
(4) has declared its agreement to the arrival in Kronstadt after the revolt of French military vessels and also of army and navy units from the armed forces of General Wrangel.
In connection with the above, one must not forget that even if the French Command and the Russian anti-Bolshevik organizations do not take part in the preparation and direction of the uprising, a revolt in Kronstadt will take place all the same during the coming spring, but after a brief period of success it will be doomed to failure. The latter would greatly strengthen the prestige of Soviet authority and deprive its enemies of a very rare opportunity—an opportunity that probably will not be repeated—to seize Kronstadt and inflict upon Bolshevism the heaviest of blows, from which it may not recover.
If the French government should agree in principle to the considerations presented above, then it would be desirable for it to designate an individual with whom representatives of the rebellion's organizers can enter into more detailed agreements on this subject and to whom they may communicate the details of the plan of the uprising and further actions, as well as more exact information concerning the funds required for the organization and further financing of the uprising.
πηγή : P.Avrich "Kronstadt 1921" Princeton University Press p.235-240
σημείωση : Το συγκεκριμένο προσύμφωνο περιλάμβανε μια ανταρσία μετά το λιώσιμο των πάγων. Κάτι που ουσιαστικά δεν έγινε. Άρα το χρονοδιάγραμμα του προσυμφώνου δεν μπήκε σε εφαρμογή αλλά περισσότερο λειτουργούσε παράλληλα της πραγματικής ανταρσίας.