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Bill Adams | all galleries >> Treasures of the Russian Czars -- Moscow to St. Petersburg > Cruiser Aurora.jpg
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Cruiser Aurora.jpg
08-AUG-2005

Cruiser Aurora.jpg

St. Petersburg, Russia

In October 1917, the Cruiser Aurora was the main training ship of Russia's Baltic fleet. Aurora was a veteran of the 1904-1905 war with Japan, having been sent to the Pacific theater to rescue the Russian Pacific fleet trapped in port by a Japanese blockade. During that war, after sailing 17,000 miles from the Baltic with a rescue fleet that included 10 battle ships and two other cruisers, Aurora's captain was killed by a shell that pierced its armor during the devastating and decisive Battle of the Tsushima Straits. Ambushed by Admiral Togo, who guessed the route of the Russian rescue fleet, nineteen Russian ships were sunk in a single day, but not Aurora. History had reserved one more mission for the cruiser Aurora.

After Nicolas II abdicated as a result of the February 1917 Revolution, a Provisional Government was put in place. But Lenin and others were not satisfied. On October 25,1917 (Russia was using the Julian calendar), the Cruiser Aurora fired the first (symbolic blank) shots of the Bolshevik revolution from the forward deck gun (near the flag). These shots were the signal to attack the Winter Palace, the final step in the Boshevik coup d'etat plan. A short time later, the Cossacks, cadets, and members of the Women's Battalion guarding the Winter Palace were overpowered by Trotsky's Red Guard. Members of the Provisional Government were arrested at the Winter Palace, now the site of the Hermitage Museum. The rest, as they say is history, albeit grotesque history.

This gallery ends with the ship that symbolizes on the one hand the end of Czarist rule and a nascent democracy, and on the other hand,the descent into the tragic communist experiment. The many excesses and aloofness of Nicolas II led to his own downfall, and perhaps to the excesses of the ensuing revolution as well.

That first shot of the October Revolution started a 74-year experiment with communism and its constant partners, totalitarianism and economic paralysis. That ill-fated undertaking ended in 1991 with the economic and political collapse of the Soviet Union.

The 1991 collapse has already led to a re-awakening of a nation whose progress had been frozen in time by the communist malaise, but whose rich culture and enduring national spirit were preserved, just like this old battle cruiser.

Nikon D2x ,Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX
1/100s f/10.0 at 26.0mm iso100 full exif

other sizes: small medium large original
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Guest 14-Nov-2006 01:08
We were just in Russia on the Cruise of the Czars. I think your pictures are great. Thank you for sharing.