Review: The Kronstadt Uprising, by Ida Mett

If you’re looking for a short book about the 1921 rebellion of the Kronstadt sailors against the Bolshevik dictatorship, this is not a bad place to start.

Written from an activist rather than an academic viewpoint, Mett is passionate in her defence of the insurgent sailors who stood up to Lenin and Trotsky, demanding – among other things – ‘free soviets’. Much of the book is devoted to responding to Bolshevik smears, including that the sailors – who were once the most loyal supporters of the revolutionary regime – were led by White generals.

Trotsky in particular comes in for severe criticism, as he seems to have defended the brutal crushing of the rebellion to his dying day.

Kronstadt was not the last of the anti-Bolshevik rebellions involving people who were once seen as the most supportive of socialist revolution. The miners of Chiatura and the peasants of Guria, in Georgia rose up against the tsar in 1905 and again against the Communists in 1924 — but that story has yet to be told.