This image features General Lavr Kornilov (August 18, 1870 – April 13 1918) who served during World War I and the Russian Civil War 4,5. However, he is most notably remembered for his attempted coup d’état of Alexander Kerensky’s Provisional Government. Alexander Kerensky (May 4, 1881 – June 11, 1970) himself had planned for the arrival of Kornilov to help strengthen the Provisional Government’s armed forces against that of the dissatisfied lower Russian classes. Since the July Days, the Russian populace had grown skeptical of Kerensky’s government and their ability to handle the economic and social problems of the country as a whole 3. After several correspondences between Kornilov and Kerensky, Kornilov thought it best to install a new regime with himself as a sort of dictator over the Russian Empire 2. The Petrograd Soviet, a city council in Petrograd, were warned of Kornilov’s treachery. They were quickly and efficiently able to muster their defenses against Kornilov. Ultimately, the whole affair ended in utter failure; General Kornilov himself was placed under arrest and sentenced to be incarcerated in the Bykhov Fortress. This event also saw an increase in the amount of distrust in Kerensky’s Provisional Government 4.
With the occurrence of this event, the Provisional Government lost all of its credibility and resulted in its ultimate demise 3. Vladimir Lenin (April 22, 1870 – January 21, 1924) seized power shortly after the Provisional Government’s fall through the Bolshevik October Revolution that occurred on November 7, 1917 1. A few months earlier, Kerensky had released several Bolshevik supporters after their arrest during the events of the July Days. During the Kornilov Affair, Kerensky had to plea to the Petrograd Soviet for their support – this led to the re-militarization of the Bolshevik Military Organization and the release of even more Bolsehvik political prisoners, including Leon Trotsky 4. With the release of these workers, the events of the October Revolution were able to take place. The failure of General Kornilov allowed for the success of the Bolshevik Party to take control of the whole of Russia 3. I believe it was best put by Steven Brust when he stated that, “One man’s mistake is another’s opportunity.” This was definitely the case for the Bolsheviks’ and their October Revolution.
I would personally like to know more about the actual events that had ensued during Kornilov’s Revolt. It was stated several times throughout my research that the event was very fast-paced and confusing for most of the constituents involved. Some initial questions that arose in my mind include:
- Why did General Kornilov forsake his position and attempt to overthrow the Provisional Government?
- How did the correspondence between Alexander Kerensky and General Kornilov affect his decision to perform a coup d’état?
- To what extent did the Bolsheviks’ influence the outcome of this event?
Ultimately, more research into the subject will need to be completed before any of these questions can be answered. Maybe one day we can fully appreciate and understand the full scope of how General Kornilov affected the take over of Russia by the Bolsheviks’.
- Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: a History. Oxford University Press, 2009.
- Yegorov, Oleg. “The Kornilov Affair: How the Military’s Last Attempt to Stop Revolution Failed.”Russia Beyond, 14 Sept. 2017, http://www.rbth.com/history/326164-kornilov-affair-how-militarys-last.
- “Kornilov Affair.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, 29 Dec. 2015, http://www.soviethistory.msu.edu/1917-2/kornilov-affair/.
- “Kornilov Affair.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Feb. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kornilov_affair.
- “General Kornilov Inspecting Russian Troops, 1st July 1917.” Getty Images, 1 Jan. 1917, http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/general-kornilov-inspecting-russian-troops-1st-july-1917-news-photo/463957205.