Kronstadt Uprising

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The Kronstadt Uprising was a well-known revolt against the Communist government from March 1 to 18, 1921, at Kronstadt, a naval base in the Gulf of Finland, base of the Russian Baltic Fleet, and a stronghold of radical support for the Petrograd Soviet in 1917.

By early 1921 the Bolshevik government had defeated the armies of its White opponents, but had also presided over a collapse of the economy and was threatened by expanding Green rebellions in the countryside. The Kronstadt garrison was disillusioned by reports from home of the depredations of the food requisitioning detachments, and by the corruption and malfeasance of Communist leaders. In response to strikes and demonstrations in Petrograd in February 1921, a five-man revolutionary committee took control of Kronstadt. It purged local administration, reorganized the trade unions, and prepared for new elections to the soviet, while preparing for a Communist assault. It called for an end to the Communist Party's privileges; for new, free elections to soviets; and an for end to forced grain requisitions in the countryside.

Communist reaction was quick. A first attack on March 8 resulted only in bloodshed; however, on March 18 a massive assault across the ice by 50,000 troops, stiffened by Communist detachments and several hundred delegates to the Tenth Party Congress and led by civil war hero Mikhail Tukhachevsky, captured the island stronghold. Thousands of Kronstadt activists died in the assault or in the repression that followed.

The Kronstadt rebellion, along with the Green Movement, presented a direct threat to Communist control. While the rebellions were put down, their threat led to important policy changes at the Tenth Party Congress, including the abandonment of War Communism (the grain monopoly and forced grain requisitions) and a ban on factions within the Communist Party.

See also: civil war of 19171922; green movement; socialist revolutionaries


Avrich, Paul. (1970). Kronstadt 1921. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Getzler, Israel. (1983). Kronstadt, 19171921: The Fate of a Soviet Democracy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

A. Delano DuGarm

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Kronstadt Uprising

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