- Alexander Kerensky
name = Alexander Kerensky
order = 2nd Minister-Chairman of the Russian Provisional Government
July 21, 1917
November 8, 1917
Vladimir Leninsmaller|(as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars)
Prime Minister of Russia
July 21, 1917
November 8, 1917
successor2 = "position dissolved"
May 4, 1881
Simbirsk, Russian Empire
June 11, 1970(aged 89)
New York City, United States
profession = Politician
party = Socialist Revolutionary
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky ( _ru. Алекса́ндр Фёдорович Ке́ренский, "Aleksandr Fjëdorovich Kerenskij") (OldStyleDate|May 4|1881|April 22ndash
June 11, 1970) served as the second Prime Ministerof the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Leninwas elected by the All-Russian Congress of Sovietsfollowing the October Revolution.
Early life and activism
Kerensky, a son of a
headmaster, was born in Simbirsk(now Ulyanovsk), the same town as Lenin(then Ulyanov). At one point Kerensky's father, Fyodor, had taught the young Vladimir Ulyanovat Kazan University. Kerensky graduated with a degree in Law from St. Petersburg University in 1904. He showed his political allegiances early on, with his frequent defense of anti- Tsarist revolutionaries. He was elected to the Fourth Dumain 1912 as a member of the Trudoviks, a moderate labour party who were associated with the Socialist Revolutionary Party. A brilliant orator and skilled parliamentary leader, he became a member of the Provisional Committee of the Dumaas a Socialist Revolutionary and a leader of the socialist opposition to the regime of the ruling Tsar, Nicholas II.
February Revolution of 1917
February Revolutionbroke out in 1917, Kerensky was one of its most prominent leaders, and was elected vice-chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. He simultaneously became the first Minister of Justicein the newly-formed Provisional Government. When the Soviet passed a resolution prohibiting its leaders from joining the government, Kerensky delivered a stirring speech at a Soviet meeting. Although the decision was never formalized, he was granted a "de facto" exemption and continued acting in both capacities. The New York banker Jacob Schiff made large loans to Kerensky's government.
After the first government crisis over
Pavel Milyukov's secret note re-committing Russia to its original war aims on May 2-4, Kerensky became the Minister of Warand the dominant figure in the newly formed socialist-liberal coalition government. Under Allied pressure to continue the war, he launched what became known as the Kerensky Offensiveagainst the Austro-Hungarian/German South Army on June 17, Old Style. At first successful, the offensive was soon stopped and then thrown back by a strong counter-attack. The Russian Army suffered heavy losses and it was clear - from many incidents of desertion, sabotage, and mutiny - that the Russian Army was no longer willing to attack.
Kerensky was heavily criticised by the military for his liberal policies, which included stripping officers of their mandate (handing overriding control to revolutionary inclined "soldier committees" instead), the abolition of the death penalty, and the presence of various revolutionary agitators at the front. Many officers jokingly referred to commander in chief Kerensky as "persuader in chief". Kerensky was also described as having "the heart of a lion and the brains of a sheep"Fact|date=September 2008.
July 2, 1917, the first coalition collapsed over the question of Ukraine's autonomy. Following widespread unrest in Petrograd and suppression of the Bolsheviks, Kerensky succeeded Prince Lvovas Russia's Prime Minister. Following the Kornilov Affairat the end of August and the resignation of the other ministers, he appointed himself Supreme Commander-in-Chiefas well. He retained his other posts in the short-lived Directory in September and the final coalition government in October 1917 until it was overthrown by the Bolsheviks.
Kerensky's major challenge was that Russia was exhausted after three years of war, while the provisional government did not offer much motivation for a victory outside of continuing Russia's obligations towards its allies. Furthermore,
Leninand his Bolshevikparty were promising "peace, land, and bread" under a communistsystem. The army was disintegrating due to a lack of discipline, which fostered desertion in large numbers.
Kerensky and the other political leaders continued their obligation to Russia's allies by continuing involvement in World War I - fearing that the economy, already under huge stress from the war effort, might become increasingly unstable if vital supplies from France and the United Kingdom were to be cut off. Some also feared that
Germanywould demand enormous territorial concessions as the price for peace (which indeed happened in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk). The dilemma of whether to withdraw was a great one, and Kerensky's inconsistent and impractical policies further destabilized the army and the country at large.
Furthermore, Kerensky adopted a policy that isolated the right-wing conservatives, both democratic and monarchist-oriented. His philosophy of "no enemies to the left" greatly empowered the Bolsheviks and gave them a free hand, allowing them to take over the military arm or "voyenka" of the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets. His arrest of Kornilov and other officers left him without strong allies against the Bolsheviks, who ended up being Kerensky's strongest and most determined adversaries, as opposed to the right wing, which evolved into the
October Revolution of 1917
Kornilov Affair, Kerensky had distributed arms to the Petrogradworkers, and by October most of these armed workers had gone over to the Bolsheviks. On October 25 1917 - October 27 1917 the Bolsheviks launched the second Russian revolution of the year. Kerensky's government in Petrograd had almost no support in the city. Only one small force, the First Petrograd Women's Battalion, was willing to fight for the government against the Bolsheviks, but this force too crossed over to the revolution without firing a single shot. It took less than 20 hours before the Bolsheviks had taken over the government.
Kerensky escaped the Bolsheviks and went to
Pskov, where he rallied some loyal troops for an attempt to retake the capital. His troops managed to capture Tsarskoe Selo, but were beaten the next day at Pulkovo. Kerensky narrowly escaped, and spent the next few weeks in hiding before fleeing the country, eventually arriving in France. During the Russian Civil Warhe supported neither side, as he opposed both the Bolshevik regime and the White Movement.
Life in exile
Kerensky lived in
Parisuntil 1940, engaged in the endless splits and quarrels of the exiled Russian democratic leaders. In 1939, Kerensky married the former Australian journalist Lydia ‘Nell' Tritton. [ [http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A160496b.htm Tritton, Lydia Ellen (1899 - 1946) Biographical Entry - Australian Dictionary of Biography Online ] ] When the Germans overran France at the start of World War II, they escaped to the United States.Tritton and Kerensky married at Martins Creek, Pennsylvania.In 1945, his wife became terminally ill. He traveled with her to Brisbane, Australiaand lived there with her family until her death in February 1946. Thereafter he returned to the United States, where he lived for the rest of his life.
Adolf Hitler's forces invaded the Soviet Unionin 1941, Kerensky offered his support to Stalin, but received no reply. Instead, he made broadcasts in Russian in support of the war effort. After the war he organized a group called the Union for the Liberation of Russia, but this achieved little support.Fact|date=February 2007
Kerensky eventually settled in
New York City, but spent much of his time at the Hoover Institutionat Stanford Universityin California, where he both used and contributed to the Institution's huge archive on Russian history, and where he taught graduate courses. He wrote and broadcast extensively on Russian politicsand history. His last public speech was delivered at Kalamazoo College, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Kerensky's major works include "The Prelude to Bolshevism" (1919) ISBN 0-8383-1422-8 , "The Catastrophe" (1927), "The Crucifixion of Liberty" (1934) and "Russia and History's Turning Point" (1965).
Kerensky died at his home in
New York Cityin 1970, one of the last surviving major participants in the turbulent events of 1917. The local Russian Orthodox Churches in New York refused to grant Kerensky burial, seeing him as being a freemasonand being largely responsible for Russia falling to the Bolsheviks. A Serbian Orthodox Churchalso refused. Kerensky's body was then flown to Londonwhere he was buried at Putney Vale's non-denominational cemetery.
One of Kerensky's sons was the engineer
* R. Abraham, "Kerensky: First Love of the Revolution", Columbia University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-231-06108-0
* M. Nissenson, "The Lady Upstairs: Dorothy Schiff and the New York Post", St. Martin's Press, 2007. 13-ISBN 978-0312313104
* [http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2001/janfeb/features/kerensky.html An account of Kerensky at Stanford in the 1950s]
*imdb name|id=0449292|name=Alexander Kerensky
* [http://www.kerensky.org.uk/ Alexander Kerensky Museum in London]
* [http://www.archive.org/details/preludetobolshev008537mbp The Prelude To Bolshevism: The Kornilov Rising] (1919)
* [http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/kerensky/1927/catastrophe/index.htm The Catastrophe] (1927)
* [http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0312313101/ref=sib_cap_pdp_pg/002-3065255-2668032?ie=UTF8&keywords=Jacob%20Schiff&p=S00O&checkSum=A2PuY2NiwVh6fh%2BX7IcgOQ99Qc1LzMWKaLy2xdtgBv0%3D#reader-page Excerpt from the book "The Lady Upstairs", about contribution from Jacob Schiff]
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