The Unknown Revolution, Book One : Part 02, Chapter 01
(1882 - 1945) ~ Bolshevik-Aligned Leader of the Russian Nabat Anarchists : March of 1920 saw him taken to Moscow, where he would remain prisoner until October, when he and many other anarchists were released by virtue of a treaty between the Soviet Union and Makhno's army. Voline then returned to Kharkov, resuming his old activities... (From : Rudolph Rocker Bio.)
• "Yet there is consolation to be had. The masses learn through all too palpable first hand experience. And the experience is there." (From : "The Unknown Revolution," by Voline.)
• "Socialism, so mighty in Germany, Austria and Italy, has proved powerless. 'Communism', itself very strong, especially in Germany, has proved powerless. The trade unions have proved powerless. How are we to account for this?" (From : "The Unknown Revolution," by Voline.)
• "As we know, there it was an authoritarian state communism (Bolshevism) that scored a stunning and rather easy victory in the events of 1917. Now, these days, nearly seventeen years on from that victory, not only is communism proving powerless to resist fascism abroad, but, where the regime within the USSR itself is concerned, the latter is more and more often being described more and more deliberately as 'red fascism'." (From : "The Unknown Revolution," by Voline.)
Part 02, Chapter 01
In Moscow Zubatov was fairly quickly unmasked. He was not able to accomplish a great deal. But in St. Petersburg the affair went much better. Gapon, very crafty, working in the shadows, knew how to win the confidence and even the affection of groups of workers. Genuinely talented as an agitator and organizer, he succeeded in setting up so-called “Workers’ Sections” which he personally led and which he stimulated with his energetic activity. Toward the end of 1904 there were eleven of these sections, located in different areas of the capital, with a membership of several thousands.
Workers voluntarily attended these “Sections” in the evening to discuss their problems, listen to lectures, look at the newspapers. Since the entrance was rigorously guarded by the Gaponist workers themselves, the militants of the political parties could not easily get in. And even if they got in, they were quickly spotted and thrown out.
The St. Petersburg workers took their sections very seriously. Having complete confidence in Gapon, they told him about their misfortunes and their aspirations, and discussed ways to improve their situation, examining various methods of struggling against the bosses. Himself the son of poor peasants and having spent his life among workers, Gapon perfectly understood the psychology of the workers who confided in him. He was extremely good at pretending approval and genuine empathy for the workers’ movement. Such was also his official mission, at least at the beginning.
The proposition which the government wanted to impose on the workers in their sections was the following: “Workers, you can improve your situation by applying yourselves to this task meticulously, within legal limits, in the context of your sections. To succeed you don’t need to engage in politics. Concern yourselves with your concrete personal and immediate interests, and you’ll soon be leading a happier life. Parties and political struggles, recipes proposed by bad shepherds — the socialists and the revolutionaries — won’t lead you to anything worth having. Concern yourselves with your immediate economic interests. This is permitted, and it’s only in this way that you’ll really improve your situation. The government is very concerned about you and will help you.” Such was the thesis that Gapon and his helpers, recruited from among the workers themselves, preached and elaborated in the sections.
The workers did not wait to respond to the invitation. They prepared an action. They developed and formulated their demands, with Gapon’s agreement. In his extremely delicate situation, Gapon had to take part. If he failed to do so, he would immediately provoke discontent among the workers; he would certainly even be accused of betraying their interests and supporting the boss’s side. He would lose his popularity. Even more serious suspicions would arise. If this happened, his work would be ruined. In his double game Gapon had above all else and at all costs to retain the sympathies he had known how to win. He understood this well and he acted as if he completely supported the workers’ cause, hoping to .be able to retain mastery of the movement, manipulate the masses at will, direct, shape and channel their action.
But the opposite took place. The movement quickly went beyond the limits that had been assigned to it. It rapidly acquired unforeseen amplitude, vigor and momentum, burning all the calculations, overturning all the expectations of its authors. It soon became a veritable flood which carried Gapon with it.
In December, 1904, the workers of the Putilov factory, one of the largest in St. Petersburg, and one where Gapon had numerous followers and friends, decided to begin the action. With Gapon’s agreement, they drew up and gave the managers a list of economic demands which were very moderate. At the end of the month they learned that the managers “did not believe it possible to consider these demands” and that the government was powerless to do anything about it. Furthermore, the managers of the factory fired some workers who were considered leaders. It was demanded that they be reinstated. The management refused.
The indignation and anger of the workers was immense, first of all, their long and laborious efforts had led to nothing. Secondly, and more importantly, they had been led to believe that their efforts would be crowned with success. Ga-pon himself had encouraged them, had filled them with hope. And here their first step along the good legal road had brought them nothing but a bitter failure which could in no way be justified. They felt tricked and morally they felt obliged to intervene in favor of their fired comrades.
Naturally their eyes turned toward Gapon. To save his prestige and his role, Gapon acted more indignant than anyone else and urged the workers to go to the Putilov factory to react vigorously. They did not hesitate. Feeling themselves safe, continuing to limit themselves to purely economic demands, protected by the sections and by Gapon, they decided, after several turbulent meetings, to support their cause with a strike. The government, trusting Gapon, did not intervene. It is thus that the strike at the Putilov factories, the first major strike in Russia, broke out in December, 1904.
But the movement did not stop there. All the Workers’ Sections stirred and moved to defend the action of the Putilov workers. They very rightly understood the failure of the Putilov workers as a general failure. Gapon naturally had to side with the sections. In the evening he visited all of them, giving speeches everywhere in favor of the Putilov strikers and urg;ng workers to support them with decisive actions.
Some days passed. Extraordinary agitation shook the masses of workers of the capital. Factories emptied spontaneously. Without signal or sign, without preparation or leadership, the Putilov strike became a nearly general strike of the workers of St. Petersburg.
And it was a tempest. The strikers rushed en masse toward the sections, disregarding all formalities and rules, calling for immediate and impressive action.
In short, the strike alone was not enough. It was necessary to act, to do something: something large, impressive, decisive. This was the general feeling.
It was then that a fantastic idea was formulated, no one knows exactly how or where — the idea of preparing a “petition” to the Czar in the name of unhappy workers and peasants of all the Russias; the idea of a massive demonstration in front of the Winter Palace to support the petition; the idea of giving the petition to the Czar himself through a delegation headed by Gapon, asking the Czar to listen to the miseries of his people. However naive and paradoxical it might have been, this idea spread like wildfire among the workers of St. Petersburg. It unified them, inspired them, made them enthusiastic. It gave a meaning and a precise goal to their movement.
The sections, joining together with the masses, decided to organize the action. Gapon was charged with drafting the petition. Once again he agreed. Thus by force of circumstances he became the leader of a major, historical movement of the masses.
The petition was ready during the first days of January, 1905. Simple and moving, it exuded devotion and confidence. The sufferings of the people were elaborated with a great deal of feeling and sincerity. The Czar was asked to turn to these sufferings, to agree to effective reforms and to see them carried through.
It is strange, but unquestionable, that Gapon’s petition was an inspired and genuinely moving work.
The next step was to have the petition adopted by all the sections, to communicate it to the mass of the population and to organize the march toward the Winter Palace.
In the meantime a new factor came into play. Some revolutionaries belonging to the political parties (until this moment the parties had stayed away from “Gaponism”) met with Gapon. Their main aim was to influence him to give his attitude, his petition and his action a style which was less “submissive,” more dignified, more firm — in short, more revolutionary. Circles of progressive workers also drove him in this direction. Gapon gracefully gave in. Some Socialist Revolutionaries established relations with him. In agreement with them, he changed his original petition, enlarging it considerably, and playing down its loyal devotion to the Czar.
In its final form, the “petition” was the greatest historical paradox that ever existed. It was loyally addressed to the Czar and it asked the Czar to authorize, and even carry out, neither more nor less than a thoroughgoing revolution which would, in the last analysis, eliminate his power. In fact, the entire minimum program of the revolutionary parties was included in it. Among the urgent measures demanded were: complete freedom of the press, of speech, of thought; absolute freedom for all associations and organizations; the right of workers to join unions, the right to strike; some agrarian laws leading to the expropriation of the large landowners in favor of peasant communities; and finally the immediate convocation of a Constituent Assembly elected ofi the basis of a democratic electoral law. It was a blunt invitation to suicide. Here is the complete and final text of the “petition”:
We, the workers of St. Petersburg, our wives, our children and our parents, old people with no resources, have come to You, Oh Czar, to ask you for justice and protection.
We are reduced to beggars. We are oppressed, crushed under the weight of exhausting labor, drenched in insults. We are not considered human beings but are treated as slaves who must suffer their sad fate in silence. We have suffered all this patiently. But we are now being thrown to the very bottom of the abyss where only ignorance and despotism will be our lot. We are being smothered by despotism and by a treatment contrary to all human laws.
We can endure no more, Oh Czar! The terrible moment has come when we would really rather die thati continue our unbearable sufferings. This is why we have stopped working and why we told our bosses that we will not return until they have granted our just demands.
We have asked for very little, yet without the little we have asked for our life is not a life, but a hell, an eternal torture.
Our first request asks our bosses to take full account of our needs, in agreement with us. And they have refused! We have been denied the very right to discuss our needs, under the pretext that the law does not recognize such a right.
Our demand for an eight hour day has also been rejected as illegal.
We have asked for participation in the determination of our wages; for arbitration in case of disagreement between us and the internal administration of the factory; for a minimum wage of a ruble a day for unskilled workers, men and women; for the suppression of overtime; for safety in the workplaces so that those who work there will not die of wind, rain or snow ... We have also asked for care for the sick; we have also asked that orders given to us not be accompanied by insults.
All these demands have been rejected as contrary to the law. The very act of formulating demands has been interpreted as a crime. The desire to improve our situation is considered by our bosses as insolence toward them.
Oh Emperor! Those of us here number more than 300,000 human beings. And yet we are human beings only in appearance. In reality we have no human rights. We are not allowed to speak, to think, to meet for the purpose of discussing our needs, to take measures to improve our situation. Whoever among us dares to raise his voice in favor of the working class is thrown into prison or exile. To have a generous heart and a sensitive soul are considered crimes. To express feelings of fraternity toward the unfortunate, the homeless, the victimized, the fallen, is an abominable crime.
Oh Czar! Is all this consistent with the commandments of God, through whose power you govern? Is life worth living under such laws? Would it not be preferable for all of us, Russian workers, to die, leaving the capitalists and the functionaries to live alone and enjoy their lives?
Lord, such is the future that awaits us. And this is why we are assembled in front of Your palace. You are our last hope; Do not refuse to help bring Your people out of the pit of outlaws where there is only misery and ignorance. Give Your people a chance, a means to realize their real destiny. Deliver them from the intolerable oppression of the bureaucrats. Demolish the wall that separates You from the people and call them to rule the country jointly with You.
You have been sent down here to lead the people to happiness. Yet bit by bit, happiness is taken from us by your functionaries, who give us only pain and humiliation.
Look over our demands with attention and without anger. They have been formulated, not for evil, but for good, for our good, Lord, and for Yours. It is not insolence that speaks in us, but awareness of the general need to put an end to the insupportable situation of today.
Russia is too enormous, its needs are too varied for her to be led by a government composed solely of bureaucrats. It is absolutely necessary for the people to participate in the government, because only the people know their needs.
Do not, therefore, refuse to help Your people. Tell the representatives of all the classes in the country to assemble without delay. Let the capitalists and the workers be represented. Let the functionaries, the priests, the doctors and the professors choose their delegates as well. Let each be free to elect whoever pleases him. To this end, allow the election of a Constituent Assembly under a system of universal suffrage.
This is our central demand; everything else depends on it. This would be the best and the only real balm for our open wounds. If it is not applied, our wounds will remain open and we will bleed to death.
There is no panacea for all our ills. Various cures are needed. We are going to list them now. We speak to you with sincerity, with open hearts, Lord, as to a father.
The following measures are indispensable.
The first group consists of measures against the absence of all rights and against the ignorance which marks the Russian people. These measures include:
Personal freedom and integrity; freedom of speech, of the press, of association, of thought in religious matters; separation of Church and State.
State-supported universal and compulsory education.
Ministers who are responsible before the nation; guarantees for the legality of administrative measures.
Equality of all individuals before the law, without exception.
Immediate release of all those imprisoned for their beliefs.
The second group consists of measures against poverty:
Abolition of all indirect taxation. Direct and progressive taxation of incomes.
Repeal of the fees for the purchase of lands. Low interest credit, gradual remission of the land to the people.
The third group consists of measures against the crushing of labor by capital:
Legal protection of labor.
The freedom of workers to establish unions for the purpose of cooperation and to regulate professional problems.
An eight-hour working day; restriction of overtime.
The freedom of labor to struggle against capital.
Participation of representatives of the working class in the preparation of a law on State insurance for the workers.
These, Lord, are our principal needs. Command their fulfillment. Swear to us that this shall be done, and You will make Russia happy and glorious, and Your name will forever be inscribed in our hearts, in the hearts of our children and of our children’s children.
But if You do not give Your promise, if You do not accept our petition, we have decided to die here, on this square, in front of Your palace, because we have nowhere to go, nor any reason to be elsewhere. For us, only two paths are open: one leads to freedom and happiness, the other, to the grave. Point to one of these paths, oh Czar, and we will follow it, even if it leads us to death.
If our lives become a holocaust for suffering Russia, we will not regret the sacrifice. We offer it with joy.
It is noteworthy that despite all the paradoxical elements of the situation that was created, the action which was being prepared was no more, for an informed observer, than the logical outcome of the combined pressure of various real factors; it was a natural “synthesis” of the various elements at play.
On the one hand, the idea of a collective demonstration before the Czar was in essence nothing more than a manifestation of the naive faith of the popular masses in the Czar’s good will. (We have already described the hold which the “legend of the Czar” exerted on the people). Russian workers, who had never broken their bond with the countryside, momentarily returned to the ancient peasant tradition by going to ask the “little father” for help and protection. Taking advantage of the unusual situation which was offered to them, roused by a spontaneous and irresistible outburst, they undoubtedly tried to point to the sore spot, to obtain a concrete and definitive solution. While expecting, from the bottom of their hearts, at least a partial success, they wanted most of all to know where they stood.
On the other hand, the influence of the revolutionary parties — who could do nothing but stand aside, too powerless to stop the movement, not to speak of substituting for it a more revolutionary movement — was nevertheless strong enough to exert some pressure on Gapon, obliging him to “revolutionize” his act.
In short the act was a bastard, but natural, product of the forces in play.
As for intellectual and liberal circles, they could do no more than passively observe the events as they unfolded.
The behavior and psychology of Gapon himself, paradoxical as they may seem, can nevertheless be easily explained. Originally no more than a clown, an agent in the pay of the police, he was swept along by the tremendous wave of the popular movement which drove him irresistibly forward. The movement ultimately carried him with it. Events placed him, despite himself, at the head of crowds who idolized him. Adventurous and romantic in spirit, he must have let himself be nursed by an illusion. Instinctively aware of the historical importance of the events, he probably drew himself an exaggerated picture. He could already see the entire country undergoing a revolution, the throne in danger, and himself, Gapon, supreme leader of the movement, idol of the people, carried to the summit of glory. Fascinated by this dream that reality seemed to justify, he finally gave himself body and soul to the movement he had started. His role as police agent ceased to interest him. He no longer even thought of it during the course of these feverish days, completely dazzled by the lightning of the enormous storm, completely absorbed by his new role, which must have seemed to him almost a divine mission. Such was probably the outlook of Gapon at the beginning of January, 1905. It is reasonable to assume that at this moment, and in this sense, he was sincere. At least that’s the personal impression of the author of these lines, who met Gapon a few days before the events and saw him in action.
Even the strangest factor of all — the silence of the government and the complete absence of all police intervention during the days of feverish preparation — can easily be explained. The police could not read the thoughts of the new Gapon. They trusted him to the very end, interpreting his action as a clever move. And when the police finally did become aware of the change and the imminent danger, they could no longer stop or master the events that broke out. Somewhat disconcerted at first, the government finally decided to wait for the opportunity to wipe out the movement in a single blow. For a moment, having received no orders, the police didn’t budge. We should add that this incomprehensible and mysterious fact encouraged the masses and raised their hopes. “The government doesn’t dare oppose the movement; it’ll give in,” people commented.
The march toward the Winter Palace was set for Sunday morning, January 9 (old calendar). The last days were devoted mainly to public readings of the “petition” at the “sections.” The same sequence was repeated almost everywhere. During the course of the day, Gapon himself or one of his friends read and commented on the petition to masses of workers who took turns filling the meeting places. As soon as the place filled, the door was closed and the petition was read; those present signed their names on a separate sheet and left the room. Another crowd of people who had patiently waited for their turn in the street filled the room, and the ceremony was repeated. This continued to take place in all the sections until after midnight.
What gave a tragic note to these last preparations was the supreme appeal of the orator and the crowd’s solemn, grim oath in response to the appeal. “Comrade workers, peasants and others!” said the orator, “Brothers in misery! Be loyal to the cause and to the demonstration, all of you. Come to the square in front of the Winter Palace on Sunday morning. Your failure to do so will be treason to our cause. But come quietly and peacefully, living up to the solemn hour that strikes. Father Gapon has already warned the Czar and has personally assured him that he will be safe among you. If you allow yourselves a misplaced act, Father Gapon will have to answer for it. You have heard the petition. Our demands are just. We can no longer continue this miserable life. That’s why we’re going to the Czar with open arms, our hearts full of love and hope. All he has to do is receive us and listen to our request. Gapon himself will give him the petition. Let us hope, comrades, let us hope, brothers, that the Czar receives us, that he listens to us and that he takes steps to satisfy our just demands. But, brothers, if instead of receiving us, the Czar turns on us with guns and swords, then, my brothers, pity for him! Then we no longer have a Czar. Then let him be damned forever, together with his entire dynasty! Swear, all of you, comrades, brothers, plain citizens, swear that then you will never forget his betrayal. Swear that then you will try to destroy the traitor in every way possible ...” And the entire assembly, completely carried away, raised their hands and answered: “We swear!”
Where Gapon himself read the petition — and he read it at least once at every section — he added: “I, the priest George Gapon, through the will of God, free you in that case from the oath given to the Czar, and I bless in advance whosoever shall destroy him. Because in that case we will no longer have a Czar!” Pale with emotion, he repeated this phrase two or three times to the silent and trembling audience.
“Swear that you’ll follow me, swear on the heads of your dear ones, your children!” “Yes, father, yes! We swear on the heads of our children!” was invariably the response.
On January 8, in the evening, everything was ready for the march. Certain intellectual and literary circles learned that the decision of the government had been taken: under no circumstances was the crowd to approach the Palace; if the crowd insisted, shoot without pity. In all haste, a delegation was dispatched to the authorities to try to prevent the shedding of blood. But in vain. All the orders had already been given. The capital was in the hands of troops armed to the teeth.
The rest is known. On Sunday, January 9, in the morning, an immense crowd composed mainly of workers (often with their families) as well as various other elements, began to move in the direction of the Winter Palace. Tens of thousands of people, men, women and children, starting out from all parts of the capital and its suburbs, marched toward the meeting place.
Everywhere they ran into curtains of troops and police who fired continuously at this human sea. But the pressure of this compact mass of people — a pressure which continued to increase from one minute to the next — was such that the crowd continued to move toward the palace anyway, and without pause, filling and congesting the streets around it. Thousands of people, dispersed by the shots, obstinately moved toward the goal, taking side streets and detours, moved by the impetus of the action, by curiosity, by anger, by the pressing need to cry out their indignation and their horror. There were many who continued, in spite of everything, to retain a spark of hope, believing that if only they could succeed in reaching the square in front of the Czar’s palace, the Czar would come to them, would receive them and would mend everything. Others thought that, faced with a fait accompli, the Czar could no longer resist and would be obliged to give in. Still others, the most naive, imagined that the Czar was not aware of what was happening, that he knew nothing of the butchery, and that the police, after concealing the facts from the very beginning, were now trying to keep the people from coming into contact with the “Little Father.” So they had to reach the Czar at all costs ... Furthermore, they had sworn to be there ... And finally, Gapon was there; perhaps he had succeeded in reaching the Czar ...
In any case, waves of human beings broke through from every direction and finally invaded the immediate surroundings of the Winter Palace and entered the square itself. The government found nothing better to do than to shoot, to sweep away the disarmed, distressed and despairing crowd with rounds of fire.
It was a terrifying spectacle, a vision which could hardly be imagined, unique in history. Machine-gunned point blank, screaming with fear, pain and rage, this immense crowd, unable either to advance or retreat because its own size prevented all movement, received what was later called a “blood bath.” Driven back slightly by each round, as if by a strong gust of wind, partly trampled, suffocated, crushed, the crowd formed again, over dead bodies, over the dying, over the injured, pushed by new masses who arrived, and continued to arrive, from behind. And new rounds of fire periodically sent a shudder of death through this living mass. This went on for a long time: until the adjacent streets finally emptied, and the crowd was able to escape.
Hundreds of men, women and children perished on this day in the capital. The authorities intoxicated the soldiers so as to dull their consciences and remove all their scruples. Some soldiers, completely mindless, installed in a garden near the palace, amused themselves by “shooting down” children who had climbed trees “to see better.”
Towards evening, “order was reestablished.” The number of victims was never known, even approximately. But what is known is that, during that night, long trains filled with corpses transported all these poor bodies outside the city; they were buried haphazardly in fields and forests.
It was also known that the Czar was not even in the capital on that day. After having given a free hand to the military authorities, he had taken refuge in one of his summer residences: at Tsarskoye Selo near St. Petersburg.
Gapon, surrounded by carriers of icons and pictures of the Czar, led a large crowd which moved toward the palace by way of the Narva Gate. As elsewhere, this crowd was dispersed by troops stationed at the very approaches to the Gate. He barely escaped. As soon as the first shots were fired, he lay flat on his stomach and did not budge. For a few instants people thought he had been injured or killed. But he was quickly carried off to safety by friends. His long hair was cut, and he was dressed as a civilian.
Some time later he was abroad, completely out of reach. Before he left Russia, he launched the following short appeal to the workers:
I, the pastor, curse all those, officers and soldiers, who in this hour massacred their innocent brothers, women, and children. I curse all the oppressors of the people. My blessing goes to the soldiers who give assistance to the people in their struggle for freedom. 1 release them from their oath of loyalty to the Czar — the traitor Czar whose orders caused the people’s blood to flow.
In addition, he prepared another proclamation which said:
... Comrade workers, there is no longer a Czar! Today torrents of blood flowed between him and the Russian people. The time has come for the Russian workers to undertake the struggle for the liberation of the people without him. You have my blessing in this struggle. Tomorrow I will be in your midst. Today I am working for the pause.
These appeals were distributed in great numbers throughout the country.
This might be the best place for a few words about the fate of Gapon.
Saved by his friends, the ex-priest settled abroad. Certain Socialist-Revolutionaries took care of him. From now on his future depended only on him. He was given everything he needed to break with his past, to complete his education and to formulate his ideological position, in short to really become a man of action.
But Gapon was not made of such stuff. The sacred fire which once accidentally burned in his dark soul was in him nothing more than the fire of ambition and personal indulgence; the spark went out quickly. Instead of devoting himself to the work of self-education and preparation for serious activity, Gapon was content with inactivity, mother of boredom. Slow, patient work meant nothing to him. He dreamed of an immediate and glorious repetition of his ephemeral adventure. But in Russia events dragged on. The great Revolution did not come. His boredom grew. He finally turned to debauchery to try to forget. He passed most of his time in shady cabarets where, half drunk, in the company of prostitutes, he wept bitterly about his broken illusions. His life abroad disgusted him. The situation of his country tortured him. He wanted to return to Russia at any price.
So he conceived of the idea of writing to his government, asking for pardon and for permission to return in order to render his services again. He wrote to the secret police. He resumed his relations with it.
His former chiefs received his offer rather favorably. But before consenting they asked him for material proof of his repentance and his good will. Aware of his acquaintance with influential members of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, they asked him to furnish precise information which would help them deal the decisive blow against this party. Gapon accepted the offer.
In the meantime, one of the influential members of the party, the engineer Rutemberg, Gapon’s intimate friend, heard about the new relations between Gapon and the police. He mentioned the matter to the Central Committee of the party. The committee charged him (Rutemberg himself told about this in his memoirs) with the task of doing everything within his power to unmask Gapon.
Rutemberg had to play a role. He did this successfully and won the confidence of Gapon, who assumed that the engineer would voluntarily betray his party for a large sum of money. This was precisely what Gapon proposed to him. Rutemberg acted as if he accepted. It was agreed that, through Gapon, he would deliver to the police some very important party secrets.
They bargained about the price. This bargaining — which Rutemberg feigned and purposely dragged out, while Gapon carried it out with the agreement of the police — finally ended in Russia when Gapon as well as Rutemberg were able to return.
The last act of the play took place in St. Petersburg. As soon as he arrived, Rutemberg forewarned some workers who were Gapon’s loyal friends; they refused to believe that he was a traitor; Rutemberg told them he could supply incontestable proof. It was agreed that the Gaponist workers be hidden at the last meeting between Gapon and Rutemberg, a meeting where the price to be paid for Rutemberg’s “betray-al” was to be settled once and for all.
The meeting took place at a deserted villa not far from the capital. The workers, hidden in a room adjacent to the room where the meeting was taking place, were to remain in this room, without being seen, so as to be convinced of the real role of Gapon and to be able to unmask him publicly.
But the workers couldn’t contain themselves. As soon as they were convinced of Gapon’s treason, they burst into the room where the two men were talking. They threw themselves on Gapon, grabbed him and, despite his pleading (which was pathetic; he got down on his knees and begged for their pardon in the name of his past) killed him brutally. Then they put a rope around his neck and hung him from the ceiling. It was in this position that his body was accidentally found some time later.
Thus ended the personal epic of Gapon.
In his memoirs, which are largely sincere, Gapon tried-very awkwardly — to justify in his own way his relations with the police before January 9, 1905. On this point he seems not to have told the whole truth.
As for the movement, it followed on its course.
The events of January 9 had enormous repercussions throughout the country. In the darkest corners of the land, the population learned with indignant stupefaction that instead of listening to the people who had come peacefully to the Palace to tell their miseries to the Czar, the ruler had coldly given the order to shoot. Over a long period of time, peasants delegated by their villages went secretly to St. Petersburg with the mission of learning the truth.
Soon everyone knew the truth. It was only then that the “legend of the Czar” disappeared.
Another historical paradox! In 1881 some revolutionaries had assassinated the Czar in order to kill the legend. It survived. Twenty-four years later it was the Czar himself who killed it.
At St. Petersburg, the events of January 9 had the effect of enlarging the strike. It became a total general strike. On Monday, January 10, not a single factory or shipyard moved. A movement of muted revolt rumbled everywhere. The first great revolutionary strike of the Russian workers — the strike of the St. Petersburg workers — became an accomplished fact.
An important conclusion can be drawn from everything that precedes:
Before the population could begin to understand the real nature of Czarism, the totality of the situation and the real tasks of the struggle, they needed to live through a tangible and extensive historical experience. Neither propaganda nor the sacrifices of enthusiasts could have led to this result by themselves.
From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org
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