The Kornilov affair and its consequences

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How did Kerensky respond to his problems?

  • The War- Unwilling to make a seperate peace with Germany. The moderate socialists and liberals in the PG agreed as they knew it would cost Russia territory and they did not want to be defeated by Germany.
  • Law and Order- Offered opportunities for action if he could find a military leader he could depend on.
  • The Bolsheviks- Along with other moderate socialists, he did not want to go for full-scale suppression of the Bolsheviks. Thought may lead to violence and rioting. 
  • The Economic Situation- Did not know how to deal with the deteriorating economy, not much he could do whilst the war continued. 
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The Kornilov Affair

Kerensky came to the conclusion at the end of August to restore law and order in the cities with discipline from the army. Desperately needed troops he could count on to deal with threats by the Bolsheviks. Appointed new supreme commander of the army; General Kornilov. Agreed that he would bring trustworthy troops into Petrograd. But Kornilov was fast becoming middle-class and hoped for salvation, saw it as an opportunity to crush the radical socialists, prevent the worst excesses of the revolution and restore law and authority in Petrograd. 

Kornilov sent his troops marching towards the city to attempt to seize control of the government and establish military control. Kerensky panicked and denounced Kornilov- he called the Soviet to help defend Petrograd from counter-revolution. People worried of the return of old regime and losses of progress in the revolution. Army were alarmed, may lose power they gained over their officers, old style discipline may be reinfoced to force them to the Front. Bolsheviks provided the help- soldiers workers and sailors were prepared to defend the city. The Bolshevik Red Guards appeared on the street and Kerensky supplied them with weapons. Kornilov's troops did not arrive; Kornilov was arrested. 

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Consequences of the Kornilov Affair

Consequences were significant:

  • Kerensky's reputation was irretrievably damaged. Left without many supporters. 
  • The Menshevik and SR leaders were discredited by their association with Kerensky. 
  • Mass of the people completely distrusted the Kadets and other Liberals.
  • Soldiers infuriated by what they saw as an officer's plot, murdered hundreds of officers. Clear that generals could not rely on 'loyal' troops to carry out their orders. Soldiers blamed Kerensky as felt that they betrayed Kornilov. Not prepared to fight for him in the confrontation of the Bolsheviks.
  • Bolsheviks rode back on the wave of popular support, as saviours of the city, the true defenders of the revolution. 
  • On 9 September Bolsheviks gained complete control of the Petrograd Soviet, and on 25 September Trotsky was elected as president. 
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