The Left Socialist Revolutionaries

The Brest-Litovsk treaty was met with horror by many in Russia.  The Manchester Guardian included in its Brest-Litovsk coverage the text of a resolution passed by the Left Socialist Revolutionaries (or Left SRs), which referred to the acceptance of the Central Powers’ conditions “as a blow struck at the Russian Socialist Republic and at the international revolutionary movement”.

The Left SRs were the second largest party in post-October politics, having split from the main Socialist Revolutionaries in the aftermath of the earlier February Revolution.  March 1918 saw the Fourth All-Russian Congress of Soviets, where the Bolsheviks accounted for about 65% of delegates and the Left SRs nearly 25%.  The relationship between the two parties was under increasing strain, and the Congress’ vote to ratify the signing of the Brest-Litovsk treaty saw a sizeable division – 724 votes in favour, 276 against, and 118 abstentions.

Mariia Spiridonova, pictured, was a major Left SR leader and one of the truly influential women of the revolutionary period.  At the age of 21, in 1906, she had assassinated a provincial politician; both the crime and her treatment at the hands of authorities had attracted massive news coverage.  Spiridonova was one of the few Left SRs to accept in early 1918 that peace had had to be sought, but her accommodation with the Bolsheviks would also disintegrate in months to come.

Mariia Spiridonova / V. Vladimirov (1905) 586:8.c.90.67