By Evan Mawdsley
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Extra resources for The Russian Revolution and the Baltic Fleet: War and Politics, February 1917–April 1918
The mutinies were actually a spontaneous reaction to the February Revolution in Petrograd. Why was this reaction so violent? The various factors discussed in this chapter predisposed Russian sailors to radical action once the revolution had begun. The Russian revolutionary experience had shown that halfmeasures were not enough. There was a tradition of violence- on both sides; Khovrin called the February-March massacre 'child's play' compared to the repression in the fleet after the mutinies of 1905-6, and there is some truth in this.
17 Of the 25 members of the Kronstadt Committee at the end ofJ une at least nineincluding the chairman and his two assistants - were intellectuals or professionals, most of whom had not been in Kronstadt before February. 18 The Baltic sailors did not play the leading role here, but they were still important. The Bolsheviks were unique in having the sailor-defendants of the 1916 trial, including N. A. Khovrin, I. D. Sladkov, S. G. Pelikhov, and T. I. Ul'iantsev; these veterans of the revolutionary struggle enjoyed great prestige in 191 7.
The position of the monarchy was a central point, and even those who knew of the first abdication thought that Emperor Mikhail II was on the throne. The Provisional Committee might be issuing decrees, but who knew what the 'dark forces of the old regime' were up to? Something had to be done to support the Provisional Committee and prevent a repetition of 1905-6. To be sure, only a part of the lower deck was politically aware; for the active minority, however, 'the moment demanded active support'.