JF Ptak Science Books Post 435
This photograph--a picture of hope soon dissipated--shows the 1918 portion of the Russian Revolutions of 1917 at just about the time of its, well, “completion”, beginning the period of the Russian Civil War, which would last until the creation of the USSR in 1922. (The photo is also part of a News Photo Service archive I purchased some years ago in, and was originally released by the Western Newspaper Union.) Alexander Kerensky, who according to the stamped caption of this photograph, was leading an army of “200,000 marching on Petrograd” in order to overthrow “Lenine [sic] and Trotsky” and the “Bolsheiki Revolution”. Kerensky (1881-1970) was elected second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government under Lenin following the February (1917) Revolution. A complex of war (WWI) and domestic/social/political directed chaos led Kerensky and Lenin to opposing paths, and, following the October 1917 revolution, the winner was clear. Kerensky, according to the data on the photo, was a “David” leading an army in opposition deposed to toppling the Bolsheviks “next week”. Things did not go as planned, or almost nothing did, and Kerensky’s army drifted, walked and ran, via indifference, fear and belief to the side of the Bolsheviks. About the only soldiers who stayed loyal to Kerensky was the 1st Petrograd Women’s Battalion, a unit of the 1st Russian Women’s Battalion of Death. (This was the first all-female combat unit in Russia, and although starting out with about a force of 2,000, quickly wasted away under the rigorous and harsh command of its commander, Maria Bochkareva*, down to about a fighting group of 300.) Kerensky fled the country and began a long series of travels, though ultimately settling in the United States, dying in NYC in 1970 (making him one of the longest surviving principal participants of the Revolutions).
St. Petersburg/Petrograd has a long and important history in the formation of the Russian nation—established in 1703 as the capital of the Russian Empire and remaining so for more than 200 years, it was also the seat of the 1905 Revolution as well as the February and October revolutions of 1917. Another bit of full-circle was that Kerensky and Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) were both born in the not-large town of Simbirsk (now called Ulyanovsk). Kerensky’s father, as it turned out, taught Lenin at the Kazan State University, a great institution of higher learning featuring non-other than the principal founder of non-Euclidean geometry, Nikolai Lobachevsky, as its rector for almost twenty years (1827-1846).
*This interesting, severe, passionate woman through intrigue and loss wound up fleeing the Soviet Union in 1918, winding up in NYC and ultimately meeting with Woodrow Wilson, appealing for American support and intervention to halt the Bolsheviks. She made the same appeal directly to George V, before winding up back in the Soviet Union, where, in 1918, she was captured. She was ultimately tried and convicted of being an enemy of the people, sentence to death, and then killed by the precursor to the KGB, the Chaka.