1906-08-03 THE MUTINY IN FINLAND
London Times, 3 August 1906, p. 3: RUSSIA./THE MUTINY IN FINLAND. (FROM A CORRESPONDENT.) ST. PETERSBURG, AUG. 2. Neither Sveaborg nor Kronstadt has fulfilled the expectations of the revolutionaries, and the Government may begin to breathe freely again. The mutiny at Sveaborg apparently broke out prematurely in consequence of the arrest of marines who were making preparations for a general naval mutiny to begin almost simultaneously at Sveaborg, Kronstadt, and Sevastopol; and, having broken out prematurely, it failed to develop according to the plan. The revolutionaries hoped by means of a demonstration at Sveaborg to attract large numbers of troops from St. Petersburg to Finland and thus to create more favourable conditions for a mutiny at Kronstadt, and possibly in the capital. But the Finnish Red Guard, in its misguided zeal, destroyed bridges and tore up sections of the railway line, with the result that the movements of Russian troops were seriously delayed and the plans of the revolutionaries rendered abortive.
Party dissentions seem further to have weakened the insurgents, for the members of the various Social Democratic and Socialist revolutionary cliques who were participating in the demonstration proved incapable of forgetting their pet quarrels in the most critical moment. The Finnish population as a whole refrained from active participation in the struggle. Captain Kock, commander of the absolutely unique form of militia known as the Red Guard, seems to have lost all judgment on hearing the news of the mutiny, and immediately proclaimed, on his own authority, a general strike. But few workmen responded to the appeal, and the mass of the Finnish population observed strict neutrality.
At the sitting of the Diet yesterday each of the Estates passed a resolution expressing sympathy with the Russian struggle for liberty, but declaring that the best form of assistance Finland could render would be strictly to observe her own laws, to maintain order, and to refrain from active participation in the conflict between the garrison and the authorities. Captain Kock’s action is strongly condemned in Finland, and is particularly unfortunate, as it has given the Russian enemies of the Finnish State excuse to renew in the Novoe Vremya their campaign of calumny.
The expected mutiny at Kronstadt broke out late last night, but proved a complete failure. The garrison as a whole has not forgotten the bitter lessons of the October mutiny, and is not in favour of a mutiny at the present moment, though several artillerymen declared yesterday that if a battleship were to arrive under command of the revolutionaries they would permit it to take the fortress. Apparently the revolutionary agitators failed to realize the situation, and persuaded some of their more devoted adherents to rise on the mere chance that the whole garrison would follow their example.
Altogether the revolutionaries have displayed astonishing lack of strategical and tactical capacity, and, as was the case in December, their attempts to organize an armed insurrection will probably have no other effect than to drive the Government still further in the direction of reaction. They have badly frightened the Government. M. Stolypin’s scheme of moderate reforms will in all probability be abandoned, and M. Guchkoff and Count Heyden, who had consented to join the Cabinet, will be set aside in favour of reactionary Ministers.
The Social Democratic Committee for agitation in the army was arrested in St. Petersburg yesterday, and several Socialist Revolutionary agitators have been arrested today.
RESISTANCE CRUSHED. HELSINGFORS, AUG. 2.*
The resistance of the Sveaborg mutineers appeared to have been finally crushed at 9 o’clock last night. Two hours previously the battleships Cesarevitch and Slava moved close in shore and opened a terrific fire at 50 cable lengths on the rebellious forts. For a time the forts replied with vigour, but their resistance gradually weakened, and at 9 o’clock a number of boats filled with wounded were seen to leave the islands and make for the port.
Earlier in the evening the mutineers had sustained a serious reverse in the destruction of the powder magazine on Ugnsholmen, the nearest to Helsingfors of the group of seven rocky islands which are collectively known as Sveaborg. This was blown up by shell fire at 5 o’clock in the evening after a cannonade lasting all day.
With a fierce battle raging within easy cannon shot, with the threat, moreover, of an impending general strike hanging over it, the town of Helsingfors has throughout presented a curiously peaceful aspect. Crowds of people went down to the harbour to watch the cannonade, but otherwise there was little or nothing in the appearance of the streets to show that anything out of the comman was proceeding. Business has been carried on as usual.
There was something approaching a panic on Tuesday when the situation in the Skatudden peninsula, where civilians had incited the sailors to seize the Government offices and barracks, had become serious. A police notice warned the people not to approach the peninsula, as serious fighting was shortly expected, the mutineers having resolved to march on the town. Strong Government forces were posted at strategic points.
Between noon and 1 o’clock the marines in Skatudden did begin their advance. They were joined by a number of workmen armed with rifles. The inhabitants of the quarter fled panic stricken, the troops were formed in attack formation, and a battle seemed imminent. The mutineers, however, retired, and at 5 in the evening, Cossacks and infantry, marching in two columns, advanced to the peninsula and took possession of the barracks and other buildings without the slightest resistance. The marines had made their way to Sveaborg.
[The above appeared in our Second Edition of yesterday.]
The general strike movement having failed, the Red Guard has begun to resort to acts of violence, and several collisions between it and the police have already occurred. Troops have been called out.
ST. PETERSBURG, AUG. 2.*
An official telegram from Helsingfors of to-day’s date announces that all the mutineers at the fortress of Sveaborg have surrendered, and that, by order of the Tsar, a Court-martial is being instituted for the trial of the men implicated in the revolt.
ACTION OF THE RED GUARD. (FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.) ABO, AUG. 2.
The Sveaborg mutiny arouses intense excitement all over Finland. The Finnish authorities, including the Diet, urge the necessity of tranquility, pointing out that Finland has no reason to meddle in the revolutionary movement. This, indeed, is also the view of the Russian revolutionaries. The Red Guard organization, a remnant of the general strike of November last, consisting of Extremists and Social Democrats who are largely under the control of their Russian fellow partisans, have openly declared adherence to the mutineers, and their chief, ex-Captain Kock, has proclaimed a general strike. The general public have received the proclamation with indifference.
It appears that the mutiny was prepared in conjunction with the Red Guard, which is known to have made attempts recently to strengthen its ranks; norcan it be mere coincidence that immediately before the outbreak of the mutiny a dynamite store near Helsingfors was raided. This morning an attempt was made to raid another dynamite store near Helsingfors, but the Red Guard was repulsed by the civic guard organized to hold in check the excesses of the Red Guard. The Red Guard cut off railway and telegraph communication with St. Petersburg and Abo in order to prevent the transport of troops, but communication has been again restored.
Captain Kock has been emphatically disavowed by the leaders of the Labour party and the Finnish Government has ordered his arrest. With the exception of the Red Guard, which is not very numerous and is poorly armed, the population in Helsingfors and elsewhere, while sympathizing with the movement for Russian freedom, maintain a perfectly calm attitude.
REVOLUTIONARY STATEMENTS. (FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.) STOCKHOLM, AUG. 2.
Two members of the Social Democratic party in Finland, one styling himself “a founder and leader of the Red Guard,” have addressed communications to two organs of the Press here explaining the aims and tactics of the party in the present crisis at Helsingfors. They describe the mode of fomenting revolt among the troops, giving curious details of the operation, and avow that their secret organization, which exercises “an almost despotic influence over the labouring classes,” provked the military movement with the ultimate object of upsetting the present regime, the proletariat having aims and ideals incompatible with it.
The Press here is unanimous in condemning severely this attitude. The Liberal Dagens Nyheter says: – “There cannot be two opinions on the subject. The Social Democracy in Finland is deliberately jeopardizing the newly regained freedom and stability of the country.”
The news of the recapture of the forts to-day and the summary execution of the ringleaders shows the futility of the attempt as far as Finland is concerned.
THE OUTBREAK AT KRONSTADT. ST. PETERSBURG, AUG. 2.*
Reports received here of an outbreak of mutiny at Kronstadt have caused the utmost alarm and apprehension in the capital. The wildest rumours are in circulation. It is asserted that four mutinous warships have arrived at Kronstadt from Helsingfors, and that the guns of the fortress are trained on them, but have not fired.
The crew of the armoured cruiser Pamyat Azova have mutinied at Kolka, on the Esthonian coast. The captain and four officers were killed. Four warships and one torpedo-boat from Hangö are also reported to be in open mutiny.
At Kronstadt 2,500 to 3,000 soldiers and sailors have declared against the Government. Besides Fort Constantine, Fort Alexander II. rose in revolt last night, hoisting red flags and landing its officers on to the mainland.
5 40 P.M.*
Forts Constantine and Alexander II. at Kronstadt to-day received the following cipher telegram from Sveaborg: – “Prepare yourselves to receive the free fleet. We hope to find you friends and not enemies.” A reply was sent in the desired sense. Chiefs were chosen among the sailors after the officers had been expelled.
The crew of the cruiser Asia, which was sent to Abo, hoisted the red flag. The vessel has left for Sveaborg.
A state of war has been proclaimed at Kronstadt, and no telegrams are allowed to be despatched.
SURRENDER OF THE MUTINEERS. ST. PETERSBURG, AUG. 2.*
The following official announcement has been issued here: –
“Disorders broke out at Kronstadt yesterday evening. Shortly after 11 o’clock the men of the fourth naval contingent left their barracks and joined a crowd which was awaiting them outside. A move was made in the direction of the residence of the port commander, but a detachment of infantry was hurriedly called out and dispersed the mob with rifle fire. Simultaneously disturbances occurred among the men of the other naval contingents. The sailors assembled and left the barracks, but they were ultimately persuaded to return to their quarters.
“The mob, composed of the sailors of the fourth contingent and the populace, advanced towards the arsenal with the intention of breaking in the gates, but was again dispersed by the infantry and quick-firing guns. The mutineers then proceeded to Fort Constantine, where their arrival was evidently expected, as on their appearance a red flag was hoisted over the fort. The fort was occupied by the mutineers, and was then bombarded, and the mutineers surrendered shortly before half-past 5 o’clock this morning.
“In the fighting with the mob Captains Rodionoff, Dobrovolsky, Shumoff, and Stoyanovsky were killed and Rear-Admiral Beclemysheff, Captains Krinitzki and Paton, and Ensign Maltzeff wounded. Order has now been re-established.
“The Finlandsky Regiment of the Imperial Guard has arrived at Kronstadt.”
London Times, 4 August 1906, p. 5: RUSSIA./THE MUTINY IN FINLAND. (FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.) HELSINGFORS, AUG. 2 (delayed in Finland).
Though all the mutineers surrendered this morning, their coadjutors, the Red Guard, refused to believe it and urged a general strike in Helsingfors. They issued proclaimations threatening that, unless the Helsingfors workmen joined the strike, the town would be bombarded by the rebels. They tried to stop the tramway traffic, but were prevented by the civil safety guard. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon an encounter took place between the Red Guard and the safety guard, in which ex-Captain Calonius and ex-Lieutenant Akerman were killed and seven workmen were wounded. These casualties all occurred among the civil guard. The Russian military were sent out, and after 15 men of the Red Guard had been arrested the others fled.
The Social Democratic central office to-day condemns Captain Kock and the Red Guard, who acted without any authority. The Red Guard have anarchist tendancies, and Captain Kock’s plan was evidently, by assiting the Russian revolution to control the siutuation in Finland, where there is no national army to check him, to terrorize the population and establish a proletariat dictatorship. For this, however, his organization was altogether too feeble. General opinion regards Kock as little better than a raving lunatic, and but for the deplorable encounter just related the Red Guard’s participation in the mutiny would have been a mere farce.
Tranquility now prevails in Helsingfors, where the feeling of relief is not unmingled with regret that the Russian champions of freedom have succumbed.
The Sveaborg mutiny was prepared a long time beforehand by agitators belonging to the advanced group of the Russian Social Democrats, who also negotiated with the Finnish Red Guard to support the movement. The Helsingfors police, whose ranks include many Socialists, were last week persuated to strike on some trivial pretext, the Red Guard intending to take over the police duties. These, however, were entrusted by the authorities to the civic safety guard, a Socialist organization formed after the November strike to paralyse the Red Guard terrorists. The designs of the Red Guard having failed, the police, after a five hours’ strike, returned to their duties. Then, shortly before the outbreak of the mutiny, representatives of the Russian Socialist Revolutionaries arrived here to try to prevent the mutiny, since no similar movement could now be arranged elsewhere in Russia. Notwithstanding their warnings, the mutiny broke out, being probably precipitated by Captain Kock’s assurances of the assistance of the Red Guard, who were co-operating by stealing dynamite, destroying the railway tracks, and blowing up bridges.
About 200 Red Guards entered Sveaborg to reinforce the rebels, who numbered about 2,800, the loyalists mustering 1,500. The rebels controlled the islands with the most modern fortifications and the best guns, but they were poorly officered and could not turn their guns against the islands held by the loyalists. When firing on Wednesday afternoon against the Cesarevitch and Bogatyr the mutineers aimed too low.
This morning the Red Guard held a meeting in Djurgaard Park, near Helsingfors, and sent a deputation to the Governor-General, the Senate, and the Diet demanding an amnesty for all Russians and Finns who had been concerned in the mutiny; otherwise, they threatened to call a general strike.
Major-General Birshert arrived from St. Petersburg this morning to institute a Court-martial.
ST. PETERSBURG, AUG. 3.*
It is announced that Kock, the leader of the Red Guard at Helsingfors, has been arrested.
THE OUTBREAK AT KRONSTADT. KRONSTADT, AUG. 3.*
Seven mutineers of the mining company, who murdered their officers, have been sentenced to death by Court-martial. They were immediately shot.
ST. PETERSBURG, AUG. 3.*
Details of the mutiny at Kronstadt this morning show that the officers displayed splendid courage, and all who were killed or wounded fell fighting. Colonell Alexandroff received the mutineers with a revolver, and shot one man. The colonel’s sister was with him and tried to defend him, but was herself bayoneted. Captain Vroshinsky, of the submarine miners, after a desperate struggle, was bayoneted by his assailants and his head was split open with the butt-end of a rifle. Rear-Admiral Beclemysheff, who received many wounds, died during the night. When the sailors mutinied Admiral Beclemysheff immediately came out with his staff, and, heedless of warnings, entered the barracks. Within a few seconds the Admiral and two captains were shot down. The crowd of civilians who joined the mutineers included a large number of women, armed with rifles, revolvers, and swords.
REBEL SAILORS DISARMED. REVAL, AUG. 3.*
The mutinous cruiser Pamyat Azova arrived here last night, the loyal portion of the crew having gained the upper hand of the mutineers. They asked for a detachment of infantry to be sent to aid them in handing over the mutineers to the authorities. The crew of the cruiser have been disarmed. Three of the officers had been placed in irons by the mutineers, but were set at liberty by the loyal sailors when the latter gained the upper hand. Two hundred and twenty-three bluejackets and four agitators have been imprisoned.
Torpedo-boat No. 166, which refused to follow the Pamyat Azova, has succeeded in getting in here. The crews of the other warships came ashore and took refuge in the woods. The torpedo gun-vessel Abrek was driven ashore and the crew of the Pospeschni opened the Kingston valves and extinguished the fires.
London Times, 6 August 1906, p. 3: THE FINNISH MUTINY. (FROM A CORRESPONDENT.) ST. PETERSBURG, AUG. 3.
In consequence of the wild escapades of the Red Guard at Helsingfors, as a result of which several lives have been lost, the question of the organization of a properly controlled national militia has again been raised in the Finnish Diet.
HELSINGFORS, AUG. 4.*
The casualties during the Sveaborg mutiny are now believed to number 600 and 1,000 missing. Seventy-five members of the Red Guard and two officers were arrested.
I obtained permission from the Governor-General to visit the main island of Sveaborg. The fortress bore many signs of bombardment. In the small section of the island which remained in the hands of the loyalists hardly a single house was undamaged. The streets were strewn with fragments of shell, grape-shot, and shrapnel. Helsingfors presents the appearance of a camp. Troops with quick-firers are drawn up around the harbour and are encamped in other parts of the town.
The report that Captain Kock, the leader of the Red Guard, has been arrested is not confirmed. The Red Guard is at present under the command of an anarchist named Luoto, and is reported to be in the neighbourhood of Helsingfors. The Senate has given orders for its immediate dispersal.
The number of workmen on strike is now 4,000.
THE OUTBREAKS IN THE ARMY AND NAVY. HELSINGFORS, AUG. 4.*
A mutiny occurred on board the cruiser Bogatyr, but was quelled. Two hundred sailors were arrested.
REVAL, AUG. 5.*
When part of the crew of the armoured cruiser Pamyat Azova mutinied on the night of the 2nd inst. the ship was in Papenwiek Bay, 40 miles east of Reval. With her were the small warships Abrek and Voivoda, the training-ship Voin, the torpedo-boat-destroyer Pospeschni, and torpedo-boats Nos. 106 and 107. The mutineers having made themselves masters of the Pamyat Azova, made for Reval, and gave the signal to the other ships to follow. The officers and those of the crews who remained loyal having refused to obey the order, the mutineers opened fire with the Pamyat Azova’s guns, but without success, all the ships escaping injury.
The Abrek, which its crew had beached, was refloated without assistance, and is at present in the mouth of the Narrows. Torpedo-boat 106 disappeared between the small islands. The Kingston valves of the Pospeschni had been opened, but were closed again by the engineers, so that the vessel remained afloat.
As soon as the Pamyat Azova was out of sight the crews of the other ships, who had fled ashore, returned on board and brought the ships to Reval. The vessels have been examined by a commission of the naval authorities and found to be absolutely undamaged.
ST. PETERSBURG, AUG. 4.*
The total number of civilian prisoners at Kronstadt is now given as 85, including the members of the Socialist Revolutionary General Committee. M. Anipko, an ex-Dumaist, is reported to be among the prisoners.
The Novoe Vremya says that the Kronstadt outbreak was premature. It had been prepared for the end of August.
It is semi-officially declared that the reports of a mutiny in the artillery camp at Rembertoff, near Warsaw, are unfounded.
Provided by Stephen McLaughlin