Russia's Man of the Hour

By Alexander Kerensky's First Speeches and Proclamations

[The National Geographic Magazine, July 1917]

Those who, like Plutarch, seek for parallels in the lives and characters of men whose genius directs the fate of nations, will find many interesting points of similarity between the Man of Destiny of the French Revolution and the Man of the Hour in Russia's day of liberation from the oppression of autocracy. Napoleon was in his 31st year when he became First Consul of the French Republic; Kerensky, premier of the Russian cabinet and now exercising the powers of dictator in order to restore order in the empire, is just 36.

Throughout his career Napoleon suffered from an incurable internal malady, supposedly cancer of the stomach; Kerensky is also tortured by a disease (supposedly tuberculosis of the liver) which prevents his working at fever heat more than a few weeks at a time; then he is forced by weakness to recuperate for three or four days in a sanitarium in the Crimea.

Napoleon's judgment of men was instant and almost infallible; Kerensky is reputed to possess the same faculty to a marked degree.

The accompanying addresses and proclamations, translated for the National Geographic Magazine from official copies in the offices of the Russian Embassy at Washington, are their own best commentary on the incisive, forceful style of Kerensky, the impassioned orator. His exhortations to the soldiers of the new Russia have much in common with the inspiring appeals of Napoleon to his troops before the Battle of the Pyramids and elsewhere.

In personal appearance Kerensky is described as a man of medium height, with close-cropped brown hair, flashing brown eyes, and a face which in repose has a strained, almost embittered, expression, but which lights up magically with a broad, generous smile.

Recent pictures of the premier show his right arm in a sling, but no news has been allowed to pass the Russian censor as to how the nation's foremost revolutionary figure was injured, whether by a bullet at the front or by the attack of some anarchistic enemy among his own people.

The Provisional Government of Russia came into existence on March 14, 1917, as a result of agreement between the Executive Committee of the Duma and the Council of Workmen and Soldiers. The new government was composed mainly of representatives of Liberal political views—the views of the Russian middle class.

Alexander Kerensky, who was the only member of the Provisional Government to represent the Socialist parties, took the portfolio of Minister of Justice. He appeared as the link between the government and the broad Russian masses.

Immediately following the announcement of the organization of the Provisional Government, Kerensky delivered two addresses—one before the Council of Workmen and Soldier Deputies and the second before a mass meeting of soldiers and citizens gathered in front of the Duma. In these speeches the Minister explained the motives which induced him to become a member of a cabinet composed mainly of representatives of the middle-class parties.

“Comrades, do you believe me? Do you have faith in me?” (Cries from every part of the chamber, “Yes, we have! Yes, we have!”) “I speak, comrades, from the very depths of my heart. I am ready to die should it become necessary.” (General excitement and a great deal of applause, followed by a continuous ovation.)

“Comrades, in view of the organization of the new government, I felt it my duty immediately, without awaiting your formal sanction, to reply to the invitation extended me to assume the responsibilities as Minister of Justice.” (Stormy applause.)

“Comrades, representatives of the old government are now in my power and I have made up my mind not to give up control over them.” (Loud applause, cries “Correct.”) “I received the invitation and became a member of the Provisional Government as Minister of Justice.” (Applause and cries “Bravo!”) “My first step was the issuing of an order calling for the immediate liberation of all political prisoners, without any exception; also that our comrades, the deputies of the social democratic faction now in Siberia, be escorted here with honors.” (Thunderous applause and great enthusiasm.)

“In view of the fact that I have assumed the responsibilities of the Minister of Justice prior to receiving your formal sanction, I now resign as vice-chairman of the Council of Soldiers and Workmen; but I stand ready to again assume that title should you find it necessary.” (Applause and cries, “You are welcome to it!”)

“Comrades, having entered the cabinet of the Provisional Government, I remain the same man as I was—I remain a republican.” (Loud applause.) “I made it plain to the Provisional Government that I appear as a representative of democracy, and that the Provisional Government must regard me as the spokesman of democracy's demands. Comrades, time is not waiting. Every minute is dear. I call you to organization, discipline; I ask you to extend help to us, your representatives who are ready to die for the people.”

“Comrades, soldiers and citizens, I am the member of the Duma, Alexander Kerensky, Minister of Justice.” (Loud and enthusiastic cheers.) “I declare in the presence of all of you here that the new Provisional Government has assumed its responsibilities and duties in agreement with the Council of Soldiers and Deputies.

“The agreement made between the Executive Committee of the Duma and the Executive Committee of the organization of Soldier Deputies has been approved by the Council of Workmen and Soldier Deputies with a majority of several hundred against fifteen.” (Great applause and cries “Bravo!”)

“The first step of the new government is the immediate publication of the act of full amnesty. Our comrades of the second and fourth Duma, who were illegally sent to the wilderness of Siberia, will be immediately liberated and brought here with honors.

“Comrades, in my power are now all the representatives of the ex-Council of Ministers and all the ministers of the old order. They will answer, comrades, for all crimes committed by them before the people in accordance with the law.” (Cries “Without mercy!”)

“Comrades, free Russia will not stoop to those humiliating means of struggle which characterized the acts of the old régime. No one will be punished without trial; all will be judged in an open peoples' court.

“Comrades, soldiers and citizens, every step taken by the new government will be public. Soldiers, I beg of you to coöperate. Free Russia has become one, and no one will succeed in tearing freedom from the peoples' grasp. Do not mind the exhortations coming from the agents of the old order. Pay attention to your officers. Long live free Russia!”

(Thunderous applause and cries “Hurrah!”)

“Citizens! So far every order coming from the Provisional Government, and having in view the complete defeat of the old régime and the establishment of the new order, has been executed by the people without bloodshed. The honor of the nation demands that the first radiant days of liberty be not befogged by thoughtless and intolerable acts of violence; such acts must be avoided in spite of the natural unrest of citizens.

“Conscious of the greatness of the moment, all citizens must voluntarily take all the necessary steps tending to preserve the liberty of every individual without the slightest exception. Be it known to all that the guilty will be put to just trial, which will result in punishing all according to their deserts.
“Citizen A. KERENSKY,
“Member of the Duma,
“Minister of Justice.”

A few days following the organization of the Provisional Government, Kerensky, at the instance of the government, visited Moscow. His arrival there was the occasion of many demonstrations and festivities given in the honor of the new order and the Provisional Government. In reply to the greetings and addresses made at his reception, Kerensky spoke as follows:

“I can scarcely find words in reply to your greetings, addressed through me to the Provisional Government. What I have lived through during those days of grandeur! I have always fulfilled my duty, and if I have done what I have done, it was only because I knew that the Russian people is a great people; that the Russian democracy is a great democracy. I am here as her tool, and by reason of this I am happy. I act because of my faith in the people and democracy. I step firmly along a great wide road because I well know the workingmen, the peasantry, and the whole people.

“I am here in the name of the Provisional Government, which came into being and assumed the great governmental powers, called forth by the people and the Duma. I come here bearing greetings. I came here to let it be known that we are placing ourselves at the disposal of the entire nation, and that we will fulfill the will of the people to the very end, up to the time of the assembling of the Constitutional Assembly. I came here to ask of you, Shall we go to the very end?”

At one of the numerous mass meetings held in Moscow in Kerensky's honor he was asked about the fate of the Russian dynasty. In reply the youthful minister said:

“Nicholas II is resigned to his fate and has asked the help of the Provisional Government. I, as Minister of Justice, am holding his fate, as well as that of his dynasty, in my hands; but our marvelous revolution was almost bloodless, and I do not want to be the Marat of the Russian revolution. There should be no place for vengeance.”

Soon after the organization of the Provisional Government, Petrograd became the Mecca for numerous delegations sent from the front by the various parts of the army. The delegates were sent to the capital with a view of ascertaining the program of the Provisional Government, as well as the government's relation to the Council of Workmen and Soldiers. One of these delegations Kerensky addressed as follows:

“The greatest problem facing the Provisional Government at this time is to uphold the unanimity of mind and action of the Russian nation at this the crucial hour of our lives.

At the present moment nothing threatens the solution of the problem. Between the Provisional Government on the one hand and the Council of Soldiers and Workmen on the other, there is today full unanimity both as regards problems and aims. If there is some disagreement, it only relates to questions of tact, to questions of what can be done today and what may be postponed until tomorrow. But these tactical differences are at present being gradually overcome and will, I hope, all be overcome by mutual consent.

“The Provisional Government has at its command full governmental powers.

“But in solving our problems we are in need of criticism and control; therefore do not be dismayed and do not think that criticism and control by the public is interfering with our work. We are the more in need of control and criticism by the Council of Soldiers, Workmen, Peasants, and Officers' Deputies, because they all represent the people and the Russian democracy.

“It may be that you are somewhat disturbed by noisy agitations. Certain words appear to be the evil of the day. But we, the Provisional Government, are not in the least dismayed by such manifestations.

“We believe in the common sense, in the iron will of the people—to march to salvation and not to ruin, because no one desires to bring about his own ruin. We believe that in the end constructive problems and not isolated party slogans will triumph.

“If we do not at this moment give the army all that it needs it is not because we do not want to, but because we cannot.

“The old régime has left everything in a state of chaos; coal has disappeared from the market, metals have disappeared, and the population was starving. Money was dwindling down in value, the nation was being impoverished, and this brought about the high prices. In this shape we have come unto our inheritance.

“However, we assume the responsibility because we believe that the people will understand the impossibility of creating at a moment's notice all from nothing. We believe that the people, having become the master, will endeavor to grasp the cause of the country's needs. Our belief has not deceived us; the people have without hesitation set about organizing life. And the army does not as yet get all; but still it already gets more than has been the case under the old régime.

“As to the agrarian question, all that I can say is that by reason of my views and convictions I am in sympathy with the slogan, ‘Earth and Liberty.’ The people must get Earth and Liberty in their full scope. In this respect the Provisional Government has committed itself through ‘definitely’ assumed obligations. We feel it is our duty to state that the question of the new forms of land ownership can be solved by the Constitutional Assembly only.

“I assure you that the question of land will not be solved without the consent of the front.

“For centuries we have grown accustomed to wait without getting anything, and now we want to get all without waiting a single day. To transform an Asiatic monarchy into the freest republic on earth, endeavoring to avoid mistakes made at various times in western Europe, is a problem that cannot be solved in the course of a few days. The solution of the problem requires, if not years, at least several months.

“And we will effect our purpose by striving toward it with all powers at our command; but we must be on the lookout not to overreach it in our dash forward, else we are most likely to overreach the aim and leave it behind us. Therefore our nearest and primary object must be the organization of the masses.

“It is only the organized masses that march to their goal not as dreamers, but as people engaged in the erection of a new State, with full knowledge of the work at hand. Remember, that the ultimate result depends on our perseverance and power of self-control.

“You must not be dismayed by talk of a counter-revolution. No counter-revolution is possible, for the simple reason that there is no imbecile who will dare to rise against the will of the entire army, the entire peasantry, the entire labor democracy, and the will of entire Russia.

“We will attain all, provided we can grapple with the only danger facing us, provided we can battle with those who will take a notion of reaching out a hand from outside, and thus help the hidden reaction; those who will want to vanquish the front, to vanquish liberty.

“The first word voiced by the Provisional Government concerning the war was the rejection of annexation, the rejection of aims of robbery, the rejection of that which is named Imperialism. But we demand, and we will make our demands known to those who will not listen to them, that we have a right to a free life and a right to our place on earth, which we will yield to no one.

“No soldier, no sailor of any government has the rights that you have. Outside of your regiment you are absolutely free. But great rights impose great duties. I have no doubt that you will fulfill these duties—your debt to the nation and democracy.”

In spite of Kerensky's enormous popularity with the masses, his activities as a member of the Provisional Government have been frequently criticised by extremists. The criticisms were also voiced within the Council of Deputies. This moved Kerensky to address the Council as follows:

“I have heard there are rumors afloat among you to the effect that my attitude toward the old authorities and the Imperial family is gradually weakening. I have heard that there appear among you people who dare to express a lack of confidence in me.

“I warn all who speak thus that I will not permit a disbelief in me, and through me insult Russian democracy.

“I ask of you to either exclude me from your midst or to give me your full confidence.” (Great applause and cries,"Bravo!”) “You accuse the Provisional Government and myself of being too indulgent with the members of the Imperial family; you say that we leave them free and treat them with consideration.

“I was at Tsarskoye Selo, where I met the officer in command there and spoke with the soldiers. The commandant of the Tsarskoye Selo Palace is a good friend of mine, in whom I have absolute confidence. The garrison promised me to obey all my commands.

“You doubt because there are several members of the Tsar family who are still at liberty, but at liberty are those only who in common with you have protested against the old régime and the rascalities of Tsarism. Dmitry Pavlovich is free because he, too, struggled with the old order up to the very last. He worked out a plan to kill Rasputin, and therefore he has a full right to remain an officer of the Russian army in Persia.

“Comrades, soldiers and officers, remember that the work of the Provisional Government is one of enormous responsibilities. The Provisional Government stands for liberty, right, and Russian independence, and it will stand there up to the very last. The equal responsibility for the fate of our country rests on us, on your Provisional Government. In the name of your debt to the country, we must all work together in full unity.” (Stormy applause.) “I became a member of the Provisional Government as your representative and I endeavored to the utmost of my power to champion your interests and opinions.

“I worked for your good, and I will continue doing so as long as you believe in me and as long as you are frank with me; but there appear people who want to create enmity between us. Remember that it is the duty of all of you to continue your good work, and if you will I shall work together with you; if this be not your wish, I shall step aside. I want to know, Do you believe me or do you not?” (Great applause, culminating in an ovation. Cries, “You are welcome! You are welcome! We believe in you!”)

Kerensky's Speech about the Political Crisis

The first cabinet, as is well known, came into being as a result of a decision arrived at during a conference held between the Duma and the Council of Soldiers and Workmen Deputies. Nevertheless there was much discrepancy between this cabinet and the political status of the great mass of soldiers and workmen which today represents the backbone of the revolution. At the time when most of the ministers were representatives of the Russian middle class, belonging to her liberal parties, this the people's element was represented in the government by only one man—Kerensky.

These circumstances caused lack of confidence toward the government among the great masses and in the army. The people regarded the cabinet as composed of “bourgeois.” The government had no great prestige and was lacking in power. The circumstances, however, required a strong concerted authority which would have the power to carry out all decisions arrived at. This brought about a political crisis which led to the formation of the new coalition government. During those days soldier and officer delegates from every part of the front held their first congress in Petrograd. It was before this congress that Kerensky delivered the following address:

“Two months have elapsed since the birth of Russian freedom. I did not come here in order to greet you. Our greetings have been dispatched to your trenches long since. Your pains and your sufferings were one of the motives prompting the revolution. We could no longer endure the imbecile lavishness with which the old order spilled your blood. I believed throughout the two months that the only power which can save our country and lead her on the right path is the consciousness of responsibility for every word and every act of ours—a responsibility resting on every one of us. This belief I still hold.

“Comrades, soldiers and officers, I well know what your feelings are there in the trenches, but I also know what is going on here. Possibly the time is near when we shall have to say to you, ‘We cannot give you all the bread which you have a right to expect of us and all the ammunition on which you have a right to depend,’ and this will not come about through the fault of those who two months ago assumed before the tribunal of history and the whole world the formal and official responsibility for the honor and glory of our country.

“The situation of Russia at present is complex and difficult. The process of transformation from slavery to liberty does not, of course, assume the form of a parade. It is a difficult and painful work, full of misconceptions, mutual misunderstandings, which prepare a field for cowardice and bad faith, turning free citizens into human dust.

“The time of the isolated countries is past. The world has long since become one family, which is frequently torn asunder by internal struggles, but which is nevertheless bound together by strong ties—economical, cultural, and others.

“Should we, as contemptible slaves, fail to organize into a strong nation, then a dark, sanguine period of internal strife will surely come, and our ideals will be cast under the heels of that despotic rule which holds that might is right and not that right is might. Every one of us, from the soldier to the minister, and from the minister to the soldier, can do whatever he pleases, but he must do it with eyes wide open, placing his devotion to the common ideal above all else.

“Comrades, for years we have suffered in silence and were forced to fulfill duties imposed upon us by the old hateful might. You were able to fire on the people when the government demanded that of you. And how do we stand now? Now we can no longer endure! What does it mean? Does it mean that free Russia is a nation of rebellious slaves?” (Uneasiness all over the hall.)

“Comrades, I can't—I don't know how I can tell the people untruths and conceal from them the truth!

“I came to you because my strength was giving way, because I am not longer aware of my previous courage. I haven't the previous confidence that we are not facing rebellious slaves, but conscious citizens engaged in the creation of a new Russia and going about their work with an enthusiasm worthy of the Russian people.

“They tell us that the front is no longer a necessity; fraternizing is going on there. Do they fraternize on the French front? No, comrades. If fraternize, then let us fraternize on both sides. Have not the forces of our adversary been transported to the Anglo-French front? And has not the Anglo-French offensive been halted already? As far as we are concerned, there is no such thing as a Russian front; there is one front, and that is an Allied front.

“We are marching toward peace, and I should not be a member of the Provisional Government were it to disregard the will of the people as far as ending the war goes; but there are roads wide open and there are narrow, dark alleys, a stroll through which might cause one to lose both his life and honor.

“We want to hasten the end of this fratricidal war; but to this end we must march across the open, straight road.

“We are not an assembly of tired people; we are a nation. There are paths. They are long and complex. We are in need of an enormous amount of perseverance and calm. If we propose new war aims, then it behooves us to conduct ourselves so as to command the respect of both friend and foe. No one respects a weakling.

“I regret that I did not die two months ago. I would have died then happy with the dream that a new life has lit up in Russia; hopeful of a time when we could respect each other without resorting to the knout; hopeful that we could rule our Empire not as it was ruled by our previous despots.

“This is all, comrades, that I care to say. It is, of course, possible that I am mistaken. The diagnosis that I have made may turn out to be incorrect, but I think I am not so much in error as would appear to others. My diagnosis is: If we do not immediately realize the tragedy and hopelessness of the situation; if we do not concede that the immediate responsibility rests on all; if our political organism will not work as smoothly as a well-oiled mechanism, then all that we dreamed of, all to which we are striving, will be cast several years back and possibly drowned in blood. I want to believe that we will find the solution for our problems, and that we will march forward along the open and bright road of democracy.

“The moment has come when every one must search the depths of his conscience in order to realize whither he himself is going and whither he is leading those who, through the fault of the old government, which held the people in darkness, regard every printed word as law. It is not difficult to play with this element, but the game is apt to be brought too far.

“I came here because I believed in my right to tell the truth as I understand it. People who even under the old régime went about their work openly and without fear of death, those people, I say, will not be terrorized. The fate of our country is in our hands and the country is in great danger. We have sipped of the cup of liberty and we are somewhat intoxicated. But we are not in need of intoxication; we are in need of the greatest possible sobriety and discipline. We must enter history so that they may write on our graves: ‘They died, but they were never slaves.’”

As a member of the Coalition Cabinet, Kerensky took the post of Minister of War and the Navy. One of the main problems facing the new government was the consolidation of the war strength of the Russian army.

It was desirable that the big task of reorganizing the Russian troops be assumed by Kerensky, who was most popular with the Russian soldiers.

His first order to the Russian army and navy was as follows:

“Having assumed the military powers of the country, I declare:

“First. The country is in danger, and a duty devolves upon every one to extricate her from it, regardless of difficulties. I will therefore refuse to accept resignations prompted by a desire to avoid responsibilities in this grave hour.

“Second. Those who have voluntarily left their military and fleet units (deserters) must return at the appointed time (the 28th of May).

“Third. Those guilty of violation of this order will be punished under the full severity of the law.

“To read this order to all companies, squads, batteries, and crews on the battleships.

“Minister of War and Navy.”

“Warriors, officers, soldiers and sailors! In this great and sad hour in the life of our country, I am commanded by the will of the people to take my place at the head of the Russian armed forces. Infinitely heavy is my new burden; but as an old soldier of the revolution, submitting to the severe discipline of duty, I have assumed before the people and the revolution the responsibility of the army and fleet.

“All of you warriors of free Russia, from soldier to general, are fulfilling a glorious debt, the debt of defending revolutionary Russia. By defending Russia you are at the same time battling for the triumph of the great ideals of revolution—for liberty, equality, and fraternity.

“Not a drop of our blood will be spilled in the name of untruth.

“You will march forward where your leaders and the government will direct you, not for the purpose of conquest and violence, but in order to save free Russia.

“It is impossible to drive away the enemy while standing in one place.

“On the tips of your bayonets you will bear peace, right, justice, and fair play. In straight ranks, strengthened by discipline of duty and undying love to the revolution and country, we will go forward, free sons of Russia.

“Without discipline there is no unity of action; without discipline there can be no salvation. The fate of our liberty depends on whether the army and fleet will fulfill their duty to their country up to the very last. By vanquishing Tsarism the army has performed a great deal, having shown how one must love and battle for liberty. But I believe that the army will perform still greater deeds; they will show how to understand liberty, cherish her, and die for her.

“Let the freest army and fleet in the world prove that in liberty there is strength and not weakness; let them forge a new and iron discipline of duty, and let them raise the battle strength of the land; let them add to the will of the people that grandeur of might which will hasten the hour of the realization of the people's hopes.

“Forward to liberty, land, and freedom!

“He who will look about, pause, and go back will lose all.

“Do not forget, you warriors of the revolution, should you fail in your efforts to defend the honor and greatness of your country, your names will be condemned.

“Difficult is the task before you, but you will fulfill it conscious of the pride that you are carrying out the will of the revolution. Your names, your pains, will be sanctified by free Russia. Your children will remember with pride and reverence the army of the revolution. By the will of the people you must clear your country of devastators and ravagers. I call upon you to perform this deed. Is it possible that you, too, will not heed me? Comrades, with you lies the mind and the heart of revolutionary Russia. Let the thought of this inspire your hearts with new decision.

“Brothers, I greet you in the name of the Russian revolution; I bow before you in the name of the great Russian people!

“To read the order to all companies, squads, batteries, and to all the crews on all men-of-war.

“Minister of War and Navy.”

In the early part of June, Kerensky undertook a tour along the entire front. He did it in order to speed the work of reorganizing the army and put it into shape for the coming offensive. Everywhere the Minister discussed the war with the soldiers, endeavoring to prove to them the necessity of continuing the struggle with the German militarism and in order to safeguard Russian freedom and the conquest of the revolution. During one of these discussions the following scene took place:

A soldier asked the Minister whether it will not be necessary to attack the Germans in order to consolidate the conquests of freedom. The Minister in reply said that an attack would be a matter to be dealt with by the higher commandant.

Whereupon the soldier said, “If we advance, we shall all perish, and dead people need neither freedom nor land. That is why the government must hasten to make peace.”

The soldier was about to go on with his argument when he was sharply interrupted by the Minister.

“Freedom does not mean the self-will of each and every one,” said Kerensky severely, “and the power instituted by the revolution is a real power. Russian sons have during decades past perished on the gallows; they have not given their lives in order to have the first coward that comes along place egotistical interest above the interests of the country and people.

“A real revolutionary never thinks of personal advantage or safety.

“His great happiness is to die for the common good.

“He who is afraid of his shadow is not worthy of freedom.

“Mr. Colonel,” added Kerensky, addressing the commandant of the regiment, “make it known in tomorrow's order that this soldier is freed from the army. He is at liberty to go home, but every one will know that he is a coward, who refused to defend the Russian land.”

“Permit me, Minister,” replied the Colonel, “to have five or six other men of our regiment accompany this soldier to the rear; we have not many of them, but they disgrace the regiment.”

“No,” said the Minister, “in the meantime one is enough.”

“And you comrades,” continued Kerensky, addressing the other soldiers, “can it be possible that you share the opinion of this soldier?”

“No,” thundered the soldiers in reply, “we do not agree with him. We will uphold you. We will all die if need be.”

“I do not doubt it, comrades,” said Kerensky.

Kerensky's efforts were not in vain. Inspired by his exhortations, having full confidence in leaders like Brussiloff and Korniloff, reorganized along new and democratic lines, the Russian army assumed the offensive against the enemy in Galicia.

On the eve of the attack Kerensky gave the following order:

“Russia, liberated from the chains of slavery, is firmly resolved to protect, at all cost, the rights of honor and liberty. Having had faith in the fraternal feelings of nations, the Russian democracy has called the warring countries with an ardent appeal to cease the carnage and to conclude an honorable peace, securing tranquillity for all nations; but, in response to this fraternal appeal, the enemy has proposed to us treason.

“The Austro-Germans have offered to Russia a separate peace and tried to blind our vigilance by fraternization, hurling themselves at the same time against our allies with the hope of crushing us after their defeat. Being now convinced that Russia will not allow herself to be tricked, the enemy is threatening us and concentrating troops on our front.

“Warriors, our motherland is in danger. Freedom and revolution are in peril. The time has come when our army must accomplish its duty. Your commanding general, beloved through victory, proclaims that each day lost adds new strength to our enemy, and that only an immediate decisive blow can disrupt the plans of the foe.

“Therefore, being fully conscious of the great responsibility of the country, in the name of the free Russian people and its Provisional Government, I call upon the armies, strengthened with vigor by the revolutionary genius, to start the offensive. The enemy must wait before celebrating victory.

“All nations must know that it was not through weakness that we talked peace. Let them know that liberty augments our forces. Officers and soldiers, you must realize that all Russia is blessing your acts on the field of honor. In the name of liberty, future prosperity, and in the name of a lasting and honorable peace, I command you, ‘Forward!’

“Minister of War and Navy.”

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013

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