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The Russian Baltic Fleet played an important role during the October Revolution and Russian Civil War. During the October Revolution the sailors of the Baltic Fleet (renamed "Naval Forces of the Baltic Sea" in March 1918)[1] were among the most ardent supporters of Bolsheviks, and formed an elite among Red military forces. Some ships of the fleet took part in the Russian Civil War, notably by clashing with the British navy operating in the Baltic as part of intervention forces.[2] Over the years, however, the relations of the Baltic Fleet sailors with the Bolshevik regime soured, and they eventually rebelled against the Soviet government in the Kronstadt rebellion in 1921, but were defeated, and the Fleet de-facto ceased to exist as an active military unit.

Fomenting the revolution[edit | edit source]

Despite the continued World War I, during the winter of 1916-197 the fleet was inactive: stationed mainly at Helsingfors, Reval, and Kronstadt the ships were literally frozen into the ice or in docks for repair. Summer 1917 was just as passive: the Russian command (Stavka) was fearful of active actions against the superior German fleet and had in mind only the defense of Petrograd. Therefore the sailors had ample time on their hands and what is more, revolutionary agitators had an easy access to them. The combination of inactivity, low pay, low military morale, hostilities between officers and rank-and-file created an explosive environment, and with the February Revolution the Fleet revolted. In Helsingfors the mutineers killed almost over 50 officers and petty officers, including Fleet commander-in-chief admiral Adrian Nepenin.[3] In March 1917, the Petrograd Soviet issued its Order No. 1. The order instructed soldiers and sailors to obey their officers and the Russian Provisional Government only if their orders did not contradict the decrees of the Petrograd Soviet. It also called on units to elect representatives to the Soviet and for each unit to elect a sailor/soldier committee which would run the unit.[4] In consequence, the Baltic Fleet had over 500 ship sailor committees, 200 port and shore s and 150 coastal defense soldier committees. in April 1917, the Central Committee of the Baltic Fleet (Tsentrobalt) was formed headquartered at Helsingfors.[5]

See also[edit | edit source]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. ВОЕННАЯ ЛИТЕРАТУРА – Военная история – Боевой путь Советского Военно-Морского Флота
  2. http://www.naval-history.net/WW1CampaignsRNBolshevik.htm
  3. Barrett, 75-76
  4. The full text was published in Izvestia the following day. It was printed again in Izvestia in July 1917 and in Pravda in March 1917. It is translated in Boyd, "The Origins of Order Number 1," 359-360.
  5. Barrett, p. 77

References[edit | edit source]

  • Michael B. Barrett, Operation Albion: The German Conquest of the Baltic Islands, 2008, ISBN 0253003539

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