Telegrams on the eve of the February Revolution (1917)


The following telegrams were sent on the eve of the February Revolution and report on the breakdown of public order in Petrograd:


To General Alekseev, chief of staff
From General Khabalov
5.40pm February 25th

I report that, as a result of the bread shortage, a strike broke out in many factories on February 23rd and 24th. On February 24th, around 200,000 workers were out on strike and forced others to quit their jobs. Street-car service was halted by the workers. In the afternoons of February 23rd and 24th, some of the workers broke through to the Nevskii, whence they were dispersed. Violence led to broken windows in several shops and streetcars. Arms were not used by the troops. Four policemen received minor wounds.

To General Alekseev, chief of staff
From General Khabalov
1.05pm February 26th

I report that during the afternoon of February 25th, crowds of workers who had assembled at Znamenskaia Square and near the Kazan’ Cathedral were repeatedly dispersed by the police and the military. About 5pm demonstrators near the Gostinyi Dvor began to sing revolutionary songs and hoisted red flags with the inscriptions “Down with War!” In response to the warning that arms would be used against them, there came from the crowd several revolver shots, one of which wounded a soldier of the Ninth Reserve Cavalry Regiment in the head. A troop of dragoons dismounted and opened fire on the crowd, killing three and wounding ten men. The crowd dispersed immediately.

Around 6pm a grenade was thrown at a detail of mounted gendarmes, wounding one gendarme and his horse. The evening passed relatively quietly. On February 25th, 240,000 workers were out on strike. I issued a statement forbidding the people to gather in the streets and warning the populace that any manifestation of disorder would be suppressed by force of arms. Today, February 26th, throughout the morning the city has been quiet.

To the Tsar
From Rodzianko, Duma chairman
February 26th

The situation is serious. The capital is in a state of anarchy. The government is paralyzed; the transportation system has broken down; the supply systems for food and fuel are completely disorganised. General discontent is on the increase. There is disorderly shooting in the streets; some of the troops are firing at each other. It is necessary that some person enjoying the confidence of the country be entrusted immediately with the formation of a new government. There can be no delay. Any procrastination is fatal. I pray to God that at this hour the responsibility not fall upon the sovereign.

To the Tsar
From Rodzianko, Duma chairman
February 27th

The situation is growing worse. Measures must be taken, immediately, for tomorrow will already be too late. The final hour has struck, when the fate of the country and the dynasty is being decided.”