The Czar was the supreme ruler of the Russian Empire, but he was away at the front overseeing his campaign of war against Germany.
The war was going badly for Russia and the Czar had little time for what he saw as one or two domestic protests. Telegrams arrived insisting that he should take immediate action about the crisis in the capitol. Initially, he was annoyed with the interruption but by evening, he could resist no longer. He responded in the only way he knew.
Confontation had risen to a new level. The slogans on the protest banners now read, "Freedom or Death." By the fourth day, the center of Petrograd had became a battlefield as fresh army units were brought to face the protestors. Under order of the Czar, they were to shoot the demonstrators if they refused to disperse. The army unit opened fire and fifty were killed, but the Czar had failed to end the protests.
Despite those killed, the demonstrations continued.
Back at the barracks the soldiers were becoming angry at what had happened, and when the commanding officer tried to force them back on the street again, they made their feelings known. Sergei Kirpichnikov, one of the soldiers then said, "That it would be better to die with honour than to obey any further orders to shoot at the crowds: ‘Our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, and brides are begging for bread,’ ‘Are we going to kill them? Did you see the blood on the streets today? I say we shouldn’t take up our positions tomorrow. I myself refuse to go.’ And, together, the soldiers cried out: ‘We shall stay with you!’"
"The commanding officer had lost control. Fearing for his life, he made the error of walking away and worse still, of running.
Mutiny had began and the only possibility of preserving themselves, was by the mutiny spreading.
The soldiers went from barrack to barrack searching support, and soon others were on the streets joining the workers.
While the streets were erupting with violence, 30,000 soldiers and sailors were stationed at the island fortress of Kronstadt. The sailors at Kronstadt were to become a key part of the Russian Revolution.
Russian Revolution in Color (DVD)
The Russian Revolution and Civil War, this bloodsoaked time from the battlefields, testimonies, and colorized archives help unfold the dramatic story of the Communist rise and seizure of power in 1917.