• Short Summary

    As visitors begin to gather in Moscow and Leningrad for the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Revolution, interest centres particularly on the historic sites where the chief revolutionary events took place.

  • Description

    As visitors begin to gather in Moscow and Leningrad for the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Revolution, interest centres particularly on the historic sites where the chief revolutionary events took place.

    The spirit of those October days (in the old style calendar) is recaptured in vast panoramic paintings on show in the Central Lenin Museum in Moscow. Film opens with two of these paintings. The first one shows the storming of the Winter Palace in Leningrad (then called Petrograd) by Bolshevik soldiers and armed workers and peasants on the night of October 25th 1917. The picture, by Sokolow-Skalja and his wife, was painted in 1960.

    The second painting, by Babasjuk, also painted in 1960, is called "The First Day of Soviet Power". It particularly features Lenin, who on October 26th (November 8th, new style) became Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, the first Bolshevik government.

    In 1917, Petrograd was the capital of Russian, and it was there that the principal events of the revolution took place. It had been the Tsarist capital for two hundred years - since the time of Peter the Great - and was known as St. Petersburg until 1914, when the name was changed from the German to the Russian form on the outbreak of war with Germany. The Provisional Government set up after the overthrow of the Tsarist regime in March 1917 also made Petrograd its headquarters.

    The signal for the storming of the Winter Palace was a blank shell fired from the six-inch gun of the naval cruiser Aurora. She had sailed up the river Neva with a crew of revolutionary sailors and taken up position where her guns could be trained on the Palace.

    The Palace itself was the principal residence of the Tsars until the March revolution; then it was taken over by the Provisional Government. Two days before it fell to the Bolsheviks, they had begun moving their forces in to take control of all the other key points in Petrograd, leaving the Palace besieged, with its communications cut. In the evening of October 25th (November 7th, new style) the Bolsheviks called on the Palace to surrender. About an hour later, it was shelled from the fortress of Peter and Paul across the river; then came the Aurora's signal and the final assault. The capture of the Palace took just four hours. All the members of the Provisional Government were arrested inside, except the leader, Alexander Kerensky, who had left that morning in search of more troops.

    The Palace was built in the middle of the eighteenth century. It now houses the Hermitage Museum, with a fine collection of classical sculpture and famous works of art. The Tsar's throne-room is also on show, with a throne made by a London firm in 1731. The painting behind it is by an Italian, Amiconi, depicting Minerva leading Peter the Great from victory to victory.

    A few hundred yards (metres) away from the Winter Palace is the Smolny Institute - the building that the Bolsheviks used as their headquarters during the final stages of the revolution. The All-Russia Congress of Soviets was in session there during the evening of October 25th (November 7th) and issued a proclamation that all power should pass to the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. The next day, it issued two decrees calling for an end to the World War and transferring all land in Russian to the people. It also set up the first Bolshevik government, under Lenin's chairmanship. Lenin arrived at the Smolny from hiding on the night before the Bolsheviks seized control. Film includes scenes of his room on the second floor, with his desk, lamp and telephone, and contemporary copies of the newspaper Pravda.

    The city was renamed Leningrad in honour of the revolutionary leader after his death in January 1924.

    Like Moscow and other cities and towns throughout the Soviet Union, Leningrad is making special preparations to celebrate the revolution's 50th anniversary. Many of the buildings have been newly painted; decorations are being put up; and special plastic covers and electric heating have been provided to protect the display of flowers from the November cold, so that they look their best for the celebrations.

    The main celebrations in Leningrad will be on November 5th.

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    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    Reuters - Including Visnews
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    HD Format:
    Available on request
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