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July Days

July Days
Part of the Russian Revolution of 1917

Petrograd, 16 July 1917
Date 16–20 July 1917
Location Petrograd, Russia
Result Government victory, dispersion of demonstrations and strikes, arrest of Bolsheviks, workers and sailors.
Bolshevik Party
Non-partisan workers, sailors and soldiers
Red Guards
Military Committee
Russian government
Black Hundreds
Commanders and leaders
Vladimir Lenin
Leon Trotsky
Pavel Dybenko
Grigory Zinoviev
Alexander Kerensky
500,000 unarmed demonstrators, 4,000–5,000 Red Guard soldiers, a few hundred anarchists sailors and 12,000 soldiers and low-rank officers Thousands of policemen, loyal soldiers, officers, cossacks and black-hundreds
Casualties and losses
700 killed or wounded demonstrators, 16 people killed by black-hundreds and 100 arrested Minimal
After the demonstration, the Bolshevik Pravda newspaper and Central Committee was captured and destroyed by black-hundreds militia.

The July Days refers to events in 1917 that took place in Petrograd, Russia, between 3 July and 7 July (Julian calendar) (16 July – 20 July, Gregorian calendar), when soldiers and industrial workers engaged in spontaneous armed demonstrations against the Russian Provisional Government. The Bolsheviks initially attempted to prevent the demonstrations and then decided to support them. (Dates given in article Gregorian Calendar.)

The Bolsheviks intended to hold peaceful demonstrations, however armed clashes broke out. Lenin went into hiding, while other leaders were arrested.[1][2][3] The outcome of the July Days represented a temporary decline in the growth of Bolshevik power and influence in the period before the October Revolution.


  • Causes 1
  • Demonstrations 2
  • Bolshevik involvement 3
  • Consequences 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7


On 15 July 1917 the Kadets walked out of the Russian Provisional Government, threatening the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) with the breakup of the government coalition. A government crisis was the result.

Anti-war feelings were rife among the populace at that time, due to the recently failed Galician offensive which had caused an estimated 200,000 Russian casualties.[4] These feelings intensified with the news of the failed offensive. Discontented workers started protests which soon spiraled into violent riots.


On 16 July spontaneous demonstrations broke out in Petrograd. They were started by the soldiers of the 1st Machine-gun Regiment, who were influenced by the anarchists. At a secret conference on 15 July the anarchists had decided to call the Petrograd workers and soldiers out to an anti-government demonstration.[5]

The machine gunners’ appeal met with a favorable response from the soldiers of the Moscow, Pavlovsky, Grenadiers, and 1st Reserve regiments. These units marched out in a demonstration under the slogans “All Power to the Soviets”. Workers from factories joined them. The leadership of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, dominated by Mensheviks and SRs, forbade the demonstration.

The Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Krasnoyarsk, and other cities.

The military authorities sent troops against the demonstration, leaving more than 700 people killed and wounded. The SRs and Mensheviks supported punitive measures against the insurgents. They began to disarm workers, disband revolutionary military units, and carry out arrests. On 18–19 July the offices and printing plant of Pravda and the headquarters of the Bolshevik Central Committee were destroyed. On 19 July the Provisional Government issued an order for the arrest of Lenin, who was forced to go underground. On 20 July troops loyal to the regime arrived in Petrograd from the front.[6]

Bolshevik involvement

The demands which the workers and soldiers took to the streets with in the July Days were influenced by the


Further reading

  1. ^ A History of Western Society. Chapter Outlines. Chapter 27: The Great Break: War and Revolution, Seventh Edition. John P. McKay, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Bennett D. Hill, Georgetown University; John Buckler, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  2. ^ url=
  3. ^ "In July 1917, a half-baked Bolshevik uprising against the Government failed. Trotsky went to prison but Lenin escaped to Finland." (Key Themes of the Twentieth Century by Philip Sauvain. p.54)
  4. ^ The Russian Revolution by Sheila Fitzpatrick, additional text.
  5. ^
  6. ^  
  7. ^ Rabinowitch, Alexander. Prelude to revolution; the Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 uprising, at 162-163.
  8. ^ Haupt, Georges & Marie, Jean-Jacques (1974), Makers of the Russian revolution, London: George Allen & Unwin, p. 222 


See also

The government crisis was intensified by the resignation of Prime Minister Lvov. On 21 July Kerensky became prime minister. The SR-Menshevik leadership of the Soviets proclaimed the Provisional Government acknowledged it to have “unlimited powers.” The soviets became a powerless appendage of the government. The suppression of the demonstrations marked the end of dual power. The peaceful development of the revolution was seen as impossible.

Kerensky ordered the arrest of Lenin and the other leading Bolsheviks, accusing them of inciting revolt with German financial backing. Lenin successfully went into hiding, staying first in the apartment of Benyamin Kayurov,[8] before fleeing to Finland, but many other Bolshevik leaders were arrested, including Trotsky, Kamenev and Lunacharskii who were apprehended on 4 August. They remained in prison until Kerensky released them in response to the Kornilov Affair.


No public record was ever made of the internal debates of the Bolshevik Party around the July Days. There were some within the Bolshevik Party who advocated an intensification of activity on 17 July. Most prominent among those were V.I. Lenin were split on what to do. On 18 July at two or three o'clock in the morning, after the Provisional Government dispatched a number of loyal troops from the front to the streets of Petrograd and won the support of a number of previously neutral garrisons of troops, the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party decided to call off the street demonstrations.

Under the pressure of what seemed like a developing mass demonstration of workers and soldiers in the streets, the leadership of the Peter and Paul Fortress.

decided to take action to restrain the developing situation. Zinoviev and Trotsky, Kamenev During the afternoon of 16 July, the Central Committee, with the support of [7]

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