New Russian leader Lenin calls for immediate armistice - HISTORY
Year
1917

New Russian leader Lenin calls for immediate armistice

On November 8, 1917, one day after an armed uprising led by his radical socialist Bolsheviks toppled the provisional Russian government, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin rises before the newly formed All-Russian Congress of Soviets to call for an immediate armistice with the Central Powers in World War I.

Lenin, in exile in Western Europe when the war broke out in 1914, managed to secure passage through Germany back to Petrograd (formerly St. Petersburg) in April 1917, after the first wave of Russia’s revolution in March overthrew the regime of Czar Nicholas II. In the months that followed, the Bolsheviks increased their influence, aided in their cause by Russia’s dismal economic situation and widespread frustration with the continuing war effort. In late June, the spectacular failure of an offensive ordered by the provisional government’s minister of war, Alexander Kerensky, sent the army into a tailspin, with millions of soldiers deserting the front and streaming home to join the socialist cause.

Over the next several months, Russia’s revolutionary fervor only increased, as Kerensky–by now serving as prime minister–struggled to maintain order in the face of growing opposition. Meanwhile, Lenin was hiding in Finland after an abortive workers’ uprising in July. He returned to Russia in late September, in time to push the Bolshevik Central Committee to organize an armed insurrection and seize power. The committee approved the plan in late October. On the night of November 6-7, under the direction of Leon Trotsky, an armed band of workers, soldiers and sailors stormed the Winter Palace, headquarters of the provisional government. The following morning, after a virtually bloodless victory, Trotsky announced that the government had fallen. Kerensky escaped and went into exile, while several other ministers were arrested later that day.

On November 8, Lenin made his first appearance before the Congress of Soviets, in which the Bolsheviks held a 60 percent majority. “We shall now proceed to the construction of the socialist order,” he announced. The first order of business for the new Bolshevik state was putting an end to Russia’s participation in what Lenin and his followers considered an imperialist, upper-class war. That day, the Congress adopted a manifesto calling for “all warring peoples and their governments to open immediate negotiations for a just, democratic peace.” A formal ceasefire between Russia and the Central Powers was declared on December 2.

Russia’s exit from the war–which was formalized in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk the following March–shook the Allied war effort to its very foundations, as Germany and Austria-Hungary would be now be able to shift all their efforts to the west. Even more importantly, the rise to power of Lenin and the Bolsheviks in Russia announced the arrival of a new vision of the world order–a vision that would over the next decades rise to challenge the ideals of liberal democracy not only in Europe but around the world.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Beer Hall Putsch begins

Adolf Hitler, president of the far-right Nazi Party, launches the Beer Hall Putsch, his first attempt at seizing control of the German government.After World War I, the victorious allies demanded billions of dollars in war reparations from Germany. Efforts by Germany’s democratic ...read more

The Republican Revolution

For the first time in 40 years, the Republican Party wins control of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate in midterm congressional elections. Led by Representative Newt Gingrich of Georgia, who subsequently replaced Democrat Tom Foley of Washington as speaker of ...read more

German scientist discovers X-rays

On this day in 1895, physicist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen (1845-1923) becomes the first person to observe X-rays, a significant scientific advancement that would ultimately benefit a variety of fields, most of all medicine, by making the invisible visible. Rontgen’s discovery ...read more

Lawrence Joel earns Medal of Honor

For action this day in the Iron Triangle northwest of Saigon, Specialist Five Lawrence Joel, a medic with the 1st Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade earns the Medal of Honor, becoming the first living African American since the Spanish-American War to ...read more

Yogi Berra is the AL MVP

On November 8, 1951, Yankees catcher Yogi Berra is voted the American League’s most valuable player for the first time in his career. St. Louis Browns’ ace pitcher and slugger Ned Garver almost won the award–in fact, a representative from the Baseball Writers Association of ...read more

Doc Holliday dies of tuberculosis

On this day, Doc Holliday–gunslinger, gambler, and occasional dentist–dies from tuberculosis.Though he was perhaps most famous for his participation in the shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, John Henry “Doc” Holliday earned his bad reputation well before that ...read more

Margaret Mitchell is born

On this day in 1900, Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind (1936), is born in Atlanta, Georgia.Mitchell worked as a journalist for the Atlanta Journal for six years. She quit after an ankle injury limited her mobility, and she devoted herself to her novel about the ...read more

Dracula creator Bram Stoker born

On this day in 1847, Bram Stoker, author of the horror novel “Dracula,” is born in Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland. Stoker’s villainous, blood-sucking creation, the vampire Count Dracula, became a pop-culture icon and has been featured in hundreds of movies, books, plays and other ...read more

Hurricane Gordon is born

The storm that would become Hurricane Gordon forms in the Gulf of Mexico east of Costa Rica on this day in 1994. Although it spent far more time as a tropical storm than as a hurricane, Gordon went on to kill as many as a thousand people in Central America, the Caribbean and ...read more

Ted Bundy botches an abduction attempt

Salt Lake City, Utah, resident Carol DaRonch narrowly escapes being abducted by serial killer Ted Bundy. DaRonch had been shopping at a mall when a man claiming to be a police detective told her that there was an attempted theft of her car and she needed to file a police report. ...read more

John F. Kennedy elected president

John F. Kennedy becomes the youngest man ever to be elected president of the United States, narrowly beating Republican Vice President Richard Nixon. He was also the first Catholic to become president.The campaign was hard fought and bitter. For the first time, presidential ...read more

Lincoln reelected

On this day in 1864, Northern voters overwhelmingly endorse the leadership and policies of President Abraham Lincoln when they elect him to a second term. With his re-election, any hope for a negotiated settlement with the Confederacy vanished.In 1864, Lincoln faced many ...read more

Sun sets on the Ford Rotunda

On this day in 1962, the famous Ford Rotunda stands in Dearborn, Michigan for the last time: the next day, it is destroyed in a massive fire. Some 1.5 million people visited the Rotunda each year, making it the fifth most popular tourist attraction in the U.S. (behind Niagara ...read more

Hitler survives assassination attempt

On this day in 1939, on the 16th anniversary of Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, a bomb explodes just after Hitler has finished giving a speech. He was unharmed.Hitler had made an annual ritual on the anniversary of his infamous 1923 coup attempt, (Hitler’s first grab at power that ...read more