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Entries / Petrograd Defence Committee

Petrograd Defence Committee

Categories / City Administration/Government Bodies

PETROGRAD DEFENCE COMMITTEE (the Committee of workers' Petrograd defence), emergency government authority. Established on May 3, 1919 on the basis of Working people and peasants' defence soviet resolution of May 2, 1919, that declared the state of siege in Petrograd, together with Petrogradskaya, Olonetskaya and Cherepovetskaya provinces. The chairman of the committee was G.E. Zinovyev. The committee was granted unrestricted authority for organization of Petrograd defence from general N.N. Yudenich troops and the Finnish forces; however, at the first period of its activity defeatist disposition spread among the members of the committee under the influence of failures at the front-line; the circulation of such opinions was advanced by the personal qualities of its chairman also ("Zinovyev is a panic", as L.D. Trotsky put it). An order was issued to prepare the major plants for evacuation and to flood the ships of the Baltic Fleet. In mid-May of 1919 V.I. Lenin demanded of Zinovyev to conduct all Petrograd defence actions with knowledge and consent of the central Soviet institutions. On May 17, 1919 The working people and peasants' defence soviet countermanded the resolution of the total evacuation. In all the districts of Petrograd so-called revolutionary threes were established; they became local bodies of the committee; in addition to that the departments of the committee were organized in Kronstadt and Petrogradskaya province. Petrograd defence committee appointed the people in charge of the internal defence of Petrograd, commissars and commandants of strategic sites; it also formed stand-by workers' regiments where all valid workers were trained soldiery, sent fresh forces to 7-year army defending Petrograd. Around Petrograd and within the very limits of the city a system of fortifications was founded; Petrograd was divided into sectors of internal defence. The mobilization of communists and members of the Komsomol was also carried out under the supervision of the committee (over 11 thousand persons were mobilized through May-June), as was the trade unions mobilization. The similar arrangements were also made at the time of the autumn offensive of general N.N. Yudenich to Petrograd on October 15, 1919. Petrograd defence committee gave the order of strengthening of the state of siege in the city and its environs: thus, a thorough identity check was carried out together with the examination of all cars; all places of entertainment, theatres and cinemas were closed. After the defeat of Yudenich's army in December of 1919 the committee was dissolved.

References: Пухов А. С. Петроград не сдавать!: Коммунисты во главе обороны Петрограда в 1919 г. М., 1960; Кулышев Ю. С. Разгром Юденича. Л., 1972.

A. A. Kulegin.

Lenin (real name Ulyanov) Vladimir Ilyich
Trotsky (real name Bronstein) Lev Davidovich
Yudenich Nikolay Nikolaevich
Zinovyev Grigory Evseevich

Пухов А. С. Петроград не сдавать!: Коммунисты во главе обороны Петрограда в 1919 г. М., 1960
Кулышев Ю. С. Разгром Юденича. Л., 1972

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Baltic Fleet