Kornilov, A Savior? Not In This Revolution

While the July Days were meant to “end the revolution’s summer of discontent”, Kornilov had to deal with the ever increasing amounts of strikes and factory shutdowns from the working and lower classes. The amount of economic and social distress was starting to build more corruption within the government and was taking a toll on the food and fuel distribution systems that were essentially to fending off the encroaching German army.

Regarded as a hero because of his escape from a Hungarian POW (prisoner-of-war) camp in 1916, General Lavr Kornilov was appointed Supreme Commander of the Russian armed forces on July 18. He was immediately tasked with ending the revolutionary chaos. Kornilov believed that the Provisional Government led by Alexander Kerensky lacked the backbone and force needed to strike down the rebellions. His first means of business was to lead an attack on the Petrograd. With help from General Krymov who led the “Savage Division” and the Third Cavalry Corps, the plan was in action and supposed Kerensky’s approval, he proceeded to lead an army into Petrograd. Kerensky ended up seeing the coup d’etat happening and sacked Kornilov by calling in Soviet troops which happened to be primarily Bolshevik Red Guards. Kornilov ended up failing miserably and was arrested.


Picture of the Red Guards after the defense of Petrogard. Provided by alphahistory.com

However, with the Kornilov Affairs, Kerensky was now hated by both sides; the left-wings believed he had been in league with Kornilov, and the Kornilov supporters now saw him as a traitor. The Kornilov Affairs also demonstrated perfectly how Kerensky was nervous and how inefficient and useless the Provisional Government was. When Kerensky called for the help of the Soviets and Red Guards, he had given the literally tools and ammunition that they needed to show where the power really was especially with the release of Bolshevik leaders. The Kornilov Affairs pushed the revolution further down the track and made it that much easier for the Bolsheviks to rise into power.


Kornilov Affair

The Kornilov affair


6 thoughts on “Kornilov, A Savior? Not In This Revolution

  1. Your post was very detailed. I learned a lot about the Kornilov Affair. It’s interesting to see how the economic and social distress led to the corruption of the government. It’s also cool to see how Kerensky was ostracized so easily by both the left-wings and the Kornilov supporters.


  2. This is a great post that highlights key weaknesses within the political framework leading up to the revolution. It was really interesting in how such a major attack was so easily squashed. Great post and very informative!


  3. I was really surprised on how this huge attack was crushed so fast and easily. But the biggest thing I got out of this was how complicated and fragile the Russian system was between February and October. This “Duel Power” did not hold up at all and people were going behind the backs of each other almost daily. It really shows how the next couple of decades would turn out with Stalin’s secret plans. Great post!


  4. I also wrote about the Kornilov Affair. I really liked how you gave full background information on Kornilov and his qualifications. I also really liked the way you gave detail of the consequences of Kerensky’s actions. This even really helped initiate the Bolshevik’s seizure of power. Really great post!


  5. The socialists may have hoped the July Days would “end the summer of discontent, but the Provisional Government put squashed the demonstrations and cracked down on the Bolsheviks, even as they (the PG) became more desperate about retaining control in the long haul. Kornilov — the strong man on horseback, presented a potential solution to the problem, but he also presented the PG with a moral dilemma: Can the rule of law survive a military coup? Nick wrote persuasively about Kornilov here: http://blogs.lt.vt.edu/nickrunk/2016/02/07/koup-detat-or-not/ Check it out!


  6. It is interesting just how much unrest Russia saw in this era. From revolutions to strikes and protests and maybe even a Coup or two, it was truly a tumultuous time. The Kornilov Affair just highlights the polar climate that seemingly hung dead over Russia. It was just one more step towards a revolution that was long overdue and a drastic change that was long in the works. I found a detailed analysis of the Kornilov Affair with some great primary sources.


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