Assassination Attempt on Lenin – Chaos in Romania I THE GREAT WAR Week 182


He is the leader of the new Russian government,
which is just over two months old since the October Revolution, but this week Lenin very
nearly dies. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week US President Woodrow Wilson outlined
his 14 points, which he hoped would be the basis for postwar peace negotiations. The Germans and Ottomans were planning new
offensives, and at the same time were negotiating a separate peace with the Russians, who had
officially left the war last month. Those negotiations could have been seriously
affected by an event that happened this week, an assassination attempt on Lenin. This happened the 14th in Petrograd. Lenin spoke at Mikhailovsky Manege from the
top of an armored car. He was explaining to the First Socialist Army
why they had to go back to the front and keep fighting, even though the October Revolution
had happened under the slogan “Peace to the People”. As Lenin’s car drove away from the Manege
afterward, Russian army sharpshooters made the first of many attempts on Lenin’s life,
ambushing the car and shattering the windshield with bullets. Fritz Platten, the Swiss communist, was in
the back seat with Lenin and shoved Lenin down and out of harm’s way. Platten’s finger was grazed by a bullet,
Lenin was unhurt, as was his sister Maria, also in the back seat. The news of the event was made public, but
security could not catch nor even identify the assassins. Eventually, some of them would be revealed
as White Russians who survived the Civil War and then shared the details of the attempt. Platten, who took Lenin’s bullet, was years
later investigated on trumped up espionage charges and sentenced to 4 years in Soviet
prison for illegal possession of a gun. He died there in 1942, on Lenin’s birthday. That wasn’t the only big news from Russia
this week. On the 18th, Russia’s elected Constituent
Assembly finally meets; there were armed guards all over the building. A crowd gathered in support but was shot at
and dispersed by soldiers loyal to the Bolsheviks. The Assembly was – as we’ve talked about
before – dominated by anti-Bolshevik Right Social Revolutionaries, who were over represented
by outdated ballots that had not taken into account their split before the election from
the pro-Bolshevik left SRs. There were many who had called for new elections. It was pretty clear early on in the assembly
that the right SRs did not think Russia was up for Soviet power and would not agree to
new elections. The Bolsheviks and Left SRs walked out. In the middle of the night, those who remained
voted on land reform, a law making Russia a democratic republic, and an appeal to the
Allies for a democratic peace. They left at nearly 0500 on the morning of
the 19th, and would reconvene at 1700. They arrived then to find the building locked
down and the Assembly dissolved by the Bolshevik government. That government immediately called the Third
Congress of Soviets, which meets next week and will expunge any and all references to
the Constituent Assembly in new editions of the laws and decrees of the Soviet government. The Declaration of the Rights of the Working
and Exploited People will be passed and is the basis of the Soviet Constitution. The government will finally get an official
name, the Soviet Russian Republic. Its all-Russian Central Executive Committee
will issue a decree of dissolution of Parliament and that is all she wrote for the constituent
assembly. Thing is, dissolving the assembly didn’t
really provoke that much of a popular reaction. The Right SRs had alienated a lot of peasantry
by supporting the Provisional government before the Revolution and many peasant votes that
were intended for left SRs ended up going to Right SRs because of the ballot problems
so the Right SRs did not have the support they imagined. Trotsky wrote years later in “Lenin”,
“They (the deputies) brought candles with them in case the Bolsheviki cut off the electric
light and a vast number of sandwiches in case their food be taken from them. Thus, democracy entered upon the struggle
with dictatorship heavily armed with sandwiches and candles. The people did not give a thought to supporting
those who considered themselves their elect and who in reality were only shadows of a
period of the revolution that was already passed.” And in other Bolshevik news… This week they arrested the Romanian minister
to Petrograd, and also issued an ultimatum to Romania, with an order for the Romanian
king’s arrest. Russia says Romanians are engaged in hostile
acts against Russian soldiers in that country and threatens war if those Russians arrested
are not released. A few words about Romania here, who had signed
an armistice with the Central Powers at the beginning of December. They were forced to do that with Russia leaving
the war, since they could no longer get help from any of their other allies. Anyhow, there was still a bunch of conflict
on that former front, primarily because of Russian revolutionary activity. Romanian General Shcherbachev had even survived
an assassination attempt by some of his own troops and had fled to Odessa. Russian soldiers from that front were now
leaving and going home to Russia, and Soviets – committees – were forming and reforming. Officers no longer had control of their men. Groups of Russian soldiers began pillaging
the Romanian civilian population on their way east. They also sold their equipment – the clothes,
weapons, horses, and even artillery to get food and alcohol. The Romanian army was redeployed along the
whole border to cover the gaps left by the retreating Russians, though of course it was
now way overstretched. Of course, also, at the moment the Russians
were a bigger danger than the Germans or Austrians, so 8 divisions were assigned to guard the
Russian troops as they retreated. A Bolshevik Soviet was organized last month
in a military camp in Lassy that aimed to begin a revolution in Romania and oust King
Ferdinand, but they were disarmed without a fight. Still, there is scattered fighting between
the Romanians and the Russians, most notably next week at Galati, where the Romanians managed
to disarm some 12,000 Russians. Russian morale was apparently so bad that
3,000 Russians crossed the Sereth River and surrendered to the Germans. The Russians by this point were not really
even an army anymore. And parts of the former Russian empire had
also been asserting themselves against the new government. Finland, for example, had declared independence
last month, but power in Finnish Parliament was fairly evenly divided between the left
and the right. The right had been pro-German throughout most
of the war, and the Finnish volunteer unit, the 27th Jäger Battalion had fought with
the Germans on the Baltic front. So they had declared their readiness to form
a German alliance, but this provoked the left into forming a workers’ militia. By this time, there were local battles being
fought between the Red left and the White right. This week, on January 15th, Carl Gustaf Emil
Mannerheim was appointed supreme commander of the White Guards. Mannerheim was a former general in the Imperial
Russian Army. There were other things at play too. The Russian Bolsheviks had, back on New Year’s
Eve, recognized Finnish independence, but just a few days later had offered Finnish
socialists Russian help to establish socialist power there. Meanwhile the Germans were shipping rifles
and machine guns to the right. (Keegan) It was a tinderbox waiting to explode. There were explosions in the west though right
now. The British did a lot of bombing there this
week, hitting Karlsruhe, Thienville, and Metz the 14th, and bombing Metz again the 16th. Also on the Western Front, on January 18th,
a full American division, the 1st, entered the front line on the St. Mihiel salient. They had been sent there to gain front line
experience just holding the line and took no offensive actions for the time being. And that’s it for the week. Russian machinations about Romania; both sides’
machinations about Finland, some action in the skies of Western Europe, and two major
events in Russia. The attempt on Lenin’s life, does, of course,
lend itself to much speculation of the “what if” kind; you may have some what if’s
to share with us in the comments. The end of the constituent assembly and the
Third Congress of Soviets were a big deal, though. That really marked the end of representative
government in Russia and the real beginning of what would become the Soviet Union. That would, however, take a lot more war and
a lot more killing to achieve, so I’ll end today with a quote about killing that I found
in martin Gilbert’s “The First World War”. This week on January 14th, British soldier
Max Plowman, wounded on the Western Front, resigned his commission. This was quite rare. He wrote to his regiment that his hatred of
war, “has gradually deepened into the fixed conviction that organized warfare of any kind
is always organized murder… (and) so wholly do I believe in the doctrine of incarnation
– that God indeed lives in every human body – that I believe that killing men is always
killing God.” If you want to learn more about Finland’s
path to Independence, you can click right here for that. Our Patreon supporter of the week is Bjørn
Tore Korssjøen – you support on Patreon makes this show what it is. Seriously, we would be long gone without our
incredible Patreon supporters. Don’t forget to subscribe, see you next
time.

100 thoughts on “Assassination Attempt on Lenin – Chaos in Romania I THE GREAT WAR Week 182

  1. What if Lenin had died? Then, Russia would still have a Civil War but Trotsky would lead the Red Army and the Soviet Nation.
    If Stalin still gains power over time then Stalin would Rebel against Trotsky. Basically there be Civil Wars until Someone or Something rises to power to take over. But Russia it self would be in a constant state of turmoil until the Nazis or some other Radical Group invades Russia. From there the Story can be split into infant amount of "What ifs". the reast is up too you.

  2. At https://youtu.be/A1lFx-kDRGw?t=5m18s don't you mean "Russian General Shcherbachev"? The name sounds so, and wikipedia seems to think the same.

  3. Also, at https://youtu.be/A1lFx-kDRGw?t=6m6s, maybe you mean Iași instead of Lassy? It's sometimes spelled Iassy, but that's an I instead of an L.

  4. Somewhere in Eastern Romania :
    Peasant 1 – "I had a barrel of alcohol from last year and I sold it."
    Peasant 2 – "What did you get for it ?"
    Peasant 1 – "This here Russian cannon"
    Peasant 2 – "… what will we do with all them cannons ?"

  5. As a side note, British Ambassador to the USA, Cecil Spring-Rice is replaced in Mid-January. He was an influential figure in pushing Wilson to bring the USA into the war. Before he left he altered a poem he wrote in 1912. The second verse would serve as the hymn 'I vow to thee my country.'

    This is the first verse of the original 1912 poem, when war was romantically portrayed as glorious.

    I heard my country calling, away across the sea,
    Across the waste of waters, she calls and calls to me.
    Her sword is girded at her side, her helmet on her head,
    And around her feet are lying the dying and the dead;
    I hear the noise of battle, the thunder of her guns;
    I haste to thee, my mother, a son among thy sons.

  6. ah that military camp in LASI :)). It's Iasi with an I as in India. Pronunciation would be Iahshi straining the first a, not the last i. Sorry for being pedantic. It was quite funny though.

  7. Can people calm down in the comments section about politics? “I wish the bullet hit”, something incomprehensible about Communism being bad*, *something about unethical Capitalism why don’t you people just thank The Great War for being here and uploading weekly content for us to enjoy. “No, must spread hate”

  8. Could you guys talk about South Arabia during the war? I recently read into things such as the battle of Lahej. And I found it interesting that this general area was in ottoman control during the duration of the war

  9. In January 22nd will be 100 years since Ukrainian People Republic proclaimed Its independence. Will you do video about that?

  10. Why didn’t the British wear red at the beginning of the war similar to how the french wore flashy blue and red, and If the British did what kind of uniform would they wear?

  11. “There was a great Marxist called Lenin
    Who did two or three million men in.
    That’s a lot to have done in,
    But where he did one in
    That grand Marxist Stalin did ten in.” – Robert Conquest

  12. When it comes right down to it, one has to wonder how a movement sold as being for the people so quickly metastasized into a dictatorship. Was there ever a path to democracy in a place that had never experienced anything but Monarchy? To some extent gaining control over the vast nation required some level of heavy handedness, or every little area would have fought for autonomy, but what a price to pay for that control.

  13. Goodness! I have NEVER seen the nuances of something so adroitly covered as the discussion here on the reasons for the Bolshevik dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. It is all too easy to simply call the Bolsheviks madmen, their actions irrational. To understand the day, however…

    Thank you!

  14. The Soviet Union is a direct consequence of the Great War. A what if Lenin had been killed? Most probably Trotsky or another Bolshevik would have replaced him. It could have even boosted the Bolsheviks by making their leader a martyr. At this stage, nothing could stop the Bolsheviks.

  15. Indy more on whats going on 14 jan Eupatoria in the Crimea around 700 officers and Bourgeois were tied up tortured and thrown into the sea. 18 jan tarnrog 50 Cadets and officers with hands and feet bound thrown in blast furnaces. see:
    The Black book of Communism
    The Cheka Lenin's Political Police
    The Red Terror in Russia ( which was online for awhile)

    Lenin the Bolshviks were "too gentle" and wanted "iron power" The Russian Revolution R Pipes

    13 jan the Central powers recognized the indepndent Ukarine
    21 Jan the bolshevik govermnet defaulted on all loans

  16. Possibly cover the dying days of the old west in the usa if you ever read thi thanks for the great show and days of info on the war

  17. The Right SRs who had a majority in the Constituent assembly did not oppose the Bolsheviks because they thought it would harm the revolution. see "The Russian Revolution" R Pipes

  18. Hey folks! Why is the account of the Constituent assembly different in this video than in Victor Serge's Year One?

  19. That quote about warfare being organized murder is one of the best quotes you've used in the history of this show. Seriously, that is some serious truth with a poetic and philosophical insight on par with Terrence Malick.

  20. The picture at 5:06 is out of context. There it presents Carol II of Romania witch had nothing to deal with the first world war, but rather with the second world war

  21. So that's the great Lenin, The Ideal Guy, communists won't shut up about. The Guy who took only the lives of bad upper classes. A triple traitor to his own country, an anarchist and a German backed terrorist. All for the revolution. And what would it all accomplish? If the Tsar had surrendered to the Germans, could he not have developed Russia just as much or many times better? Without the bloodshed.

  22. I would love to watch a review of the Kaiserreich mod from Hearts of Iron 4.To sum it up it stems from the idea of what if the German Empire won World War one?

  23. There is no such thing as a “democratic socialist,” as the Marxist socialists always walk away from representative institutions when they cannot get their way and turn to violent, evil, despotism to impose the so-called “will of the proletariat.”

  24. 6:03 I think you misread that one. It's not "Lassy" it's "Iassy" or "Jassy" , but a more local name would be "Iași" pronounced "Yash" (although I don't expect anyone to know how to pronounce local names).

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