October/November 2017, depending on which calendar you use, charts the centenary of the Russian Revolution.
Who will dust off Vladimir Iliych Lenin, I wonder?
For myself, never able to follow the straight path, I’d like to remember ALEXANDER KERENSKY.

1
Alexander Kerensky has head of the Provisional Government in 1917, when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized control.
Was he the head? His title was, at the crucial last stage, Second Minister-Chairman.
He had served the Prov Gov as Minister of Justice, and Minister of War, before this. He was also chairman of the all-important Petrograd Soviet. His credentials were good.

The Prov Gov consisted of a conglomerate of parties, groups, such as the powerful Social Revolutionary Party, the Mensheviks,  Kadets and many others with their own spheres of interest. It was a Provisional Government, because its function was to hold power after the fall of the Tsar, and until a new Constituent Assembly was formed, to decide what form Russia would take from thereon.

Aleaxander Kerensky, however, pushed matters: he declared Russia a republic.
This was contrary to the aims of several groups in the Prov Gov.
His other great misjudgement was to push for the continuation of the Great War. He even went out to the various war fronts to rally the troops into continuing the ruinous war. The scale of desertions from the military was unprecedented. This was to have far-reaching consequences for Kerensky.

This maverick nature was the tone of the times.
Cue, General Kornilov.
Some call his counter-revolutionary followers a putative White Army. He challenged the Prov Gov’s legitimacy, and threatened to take Petrograd. Karensky had lost the support of what was left of the military. Who could he call upon who had sufficient military arms and techniques, to defend the Provisional Government?
There was only the Bolshevik Party, and its leader, Lenin, was once more on the doorstep.

The Bolsheviks were highly trained, and master tacticians. One toe in the door for them was all they needed. And that is what they were given.

Aleaxander Kerensky’s father had been a school teacher, then school inspector. In his teaching one pupil taught was the son of a close family, the Ulyanov family. The son was Vladimir Iliych Ulyanov, later known as Lenin.

2
Kerensky attempted to raise a group to fight back, but by then there were two fronts: the Bolsheviks, and the White Army. Kerensky would take neither side. Wiki tells us: Only one small force, a subdivision of the 2nd company of the First Petrograd Women’s Battalion, also known as The Women’s Death Battalion, was willing to fight for the government against the Bolsheviks….

He escaped to France, and lived in Paris. He travelled to America occasionally to raise money for his scheme, but still did not side with either group.
On the Invasion of France in 1940, however, he chose to re-locate permanently to America. It was then he offered his support to Stalin against the German invasion of Russia. It measured just how out of touch he was by this time.

He had married an Australian journalist, Lydia Tritton. They eventually moved to Australia, Brisbane, and lived with her family. She suffered a stroke, however, and died a short  time after.

He returned to America, and worked with the Hoover Administration; he became a New Yorker (91st Street, Upper East Side), and also taught at Stanford University, in California.

When he died in 1970, however, the local Russian Orthodox Churches refused him burial due to his Freemasonry, and what they read to be his giving away Russia to the Bolsheviks. Even the Serbian Church refused him.
Friends in London brought him over, for a non-denominational burial. He is buried in Putney Vale Cemetery, near Wimbledon Common, London: South perimeter, block AS, grave 1289.

3
Kronstadt, 1921
That marks the year the people’s rebellion in Russia ended.
It was a particularly cold winter, so cold that even the Gulf of Finland, outside of Petrograd, froze over. Ice-locked there was the Naval fortress of Kronstadt, the last bastion of the original fighters.
Trotsky’s Red Army came over the ice that night. The fighting was long and fierce; in the end the fighters were crushed, officers executed, and sailors shipped off to Archangel.
The people’s rebellion was over: they wanted out of the Great War, better standards of life; a chance of betterment: social and economic mobility; food.
They got Leninism, Civil War, 5-Year Plans, Collectivisation and its famines, then Stalinism etc

The Finno-Swedish writer Edith Sodergran reports she heard the shooting that night, way over and out in the Gulf. The night was so still, the air so cold.

4
Death Island
A recent BBC news article gave us the details of what it called the First Concentration Camp. It was called Death Island, the island of Mudyug, in the sea off Archangel, Russia. On the Arctic Circle.
It was a camp set up by the British and French military, who were in Russia attempting to fight the Bolsheviks. The camp’s reputation for cruelty, neglect, terrible conditions, became a Soviet legend, a place for pilgrimage.
For the Soviets, though, just a few miles away was a monastery. This, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn documented in his Gulag Archipelago, surely eclipsed the first camp for inhumanity. Not excuse, though, note.

It was to this camp on Mudyug Island, that the Kronstadt sailors were shipped. None survived. It was not that the people who ran the camp were working with/colluding with the Bolsheviks, it was ignorance, stupidity: they imprisoned anyone who caused trouble, no matter which political group they belonged to, or none.

It was also here, the article states, that a French-Russian officer, and former businessman from Moscow… Ernest Beaux worked as counter-intelligence interrogator of Bolsheviks. His reputation soon established itself: he was not a pleasant man.
What was his business? He was a perfumier for the Tsar. Later he worked for Coco Chanel.
It is said that the much-valued Chanel No5 was his creation.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-41271418

If this was the first concentration camp, then what of The Enormous Room, E E Cummings’ fictionalised account of his own incarceration in a similar camp, the Dépôt de Triage, at La Ferté-Macé, in France?

4
Putney Vale Cemetery
Is it the non-denominational nature of the site, but this cemetery plays hosts to many other luminaries, besides Alexander Kerensky?
You will find there Nyree Dawn Porter; a Doctor Who (no, they don’t all regenerate); Antony Blunt, soviet-era spy and master of the Queens Pictures; Ivy Compton-Burnett; Howard Carter, Egyptologist; Jacob Epstein….

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putney_Vale_Cemetery

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Kerensky

 

 

 

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