The sailors of Kronstadt now had grave doubts about the regime they had assisted to bring to power. They registered a protest against Lenin, the excesses of the Checka and believed by doing so they were exercising their democratic duty, but unknowingly they were plotting a collision course with Lenin. It was to be the beginning, of their end.
Most of the soldiers were happy they were defending what they had gained, but underneath, they were unsure.
On one hand there is a party leadership which wants to build a whole new world, and a mass popular revolution which simply wants bread, peace land, and power to the Soviets. The leadership is out of sync with the mass movement itself. Lenin tells that all the hardships are necessary to defend the revolution, but many who were seen as heroes of the revolution have been thrown in jail and loved ones killed. People did not have freedom, and it did not seem the revolution the sailors had fought for. A loss of support they had in 1917, began to spiral.
Support for the party ebbed away. The Bolsheviks, now also known as Communists became increasingly paranoid.
On August 30, 1918, Lenin was visiting a factory on the outskirts of Moscow. Fanya Kaplan, a woman working with a banned terrorist group was standing in the crowd. She fired three shots directly at Lenin.
Two bullets entered his body, one pierced his lung, the other lodged in his neck. By the time he was brought back to the Kremlin, he appeared to be on the point of death. As crowds gathered outside, Lenin's paranoia continued. He refused all medical help, until they could find a guaranteed Bolshevik doctor.
Surprisingly, Lenin survived the shooting, and the party press declared his quick recovery a miracle. They distributed pamphlets portraying Lenin as "The Chosen One".
But the failed attempt on Lenin's life also unleashed a wave of terror against anyone considered counter-revolutionary. The Checka, already a formidable body with the power to arrest, try and execute, began to torment anyone who was believed to have incorrect beliefs or the wrong class origins. There was not a single town which did not have its own Checka, organizations which combine investigation, arrest, trial and execution. Included in the list of enemies were Kazacs, Priests, Businessmen, practically all elements of thinking society before the revolution.
Openly described as the Red Terror, it had became elevated to official policy. In Petrograd, the leading Bolshevik newspaper shreiked, "For the blood of Lenin let there be floods of blood of the bourgeois. More blood. As much as possible."
Since the failed assassination attempt on Lenin, the Bolsheviks have formalized the use of terror in order to stifle all forms of opposition, and keep a firm grip on power. Within a month, the Checka had ordered the deaths of 800 left wing rivals of the regime. Lenin feared a counter-revolution, more than anything else. By the end of the year, over 6000 political opponents are murdered.
Lenin also feared a military threat. Russia was still fighting Germany in WWI and Lenin's attempts to get peace by pulling out of the war failed. Fearing a renewed attack by the Germans, he created a new fighting force, The Red Army.
It's leader was Lenin's second in command, Liev Davídovich Bronstein. His party name was Leon Trotsky. But their peace overtures to Germany unwittingly created a threat from a completely different direction.
The creation of the Red Army was because the government in Moscow was worried about meeting the Germans, but in the West, but the danger suddenly emerges in May, June and July of 1918, in the East, where a Czech legion which had been recruited to fight with the Russians rebelled, believing the Soviet government is in league with the Germans. They feared they would be handed over to the Germans from which army they are deserters, therefore desperate not to be caught in that situation.
When Trotsky ordered them to disarm, they refused and took over control of the trans-siberian railway and large chunks of Siberia. From there, things escalated into a serious crisis and local anti-Bolshevik Russian forces, are able to exploit that.
The rebel army grew to over 40,000 men and moved west. In their path is the city of Yekaterinburg, where the royal family had been under house arrest for four months.
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.