11/4/1917 Discipline breaks down in Russia’s army

The recent revolution in Russia saw the emergence of the Petrograd Soviet, a council representing the workers and soldiers of that city. Since then other soviets have emerged across the empire, creating a system of political organisation that threatens to replace the official organs of the state. Today delegates from across the country meet at a conference of soviets in Petrograd. They pass a resolution calling for an immediate end to the war without annexations or indemnities, wrong-footing the Provisional Government who still want the war prosecuted to victory.

In the early days of the revolution, military commanders hoped to keep their troops insulated from the radical ideas in Petrograd. In this they have failed. The radicalism of the home front has gradually permeated the army as a whole. Now the army’s discipline is beginning to break down. Soldiers are no longer inclined to unthinkingly obey their officers, whose authority has ebbed away. Solders grumble that they are being made to fight a war that serves only the interests of the rich and powerful. Increasingly they begin to desert, leaving their units and heading home.

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