Eliot Hall stormed by Bolsheviks

On the night of October 26, 1917, the Russian Bolsheviks staged an armed coup d'etat against the provisional government that followed Tsar Nicholas II's abdication. The revolutionaries stormed across the Palace Square and seized the Kerensky government as it met within the Winter Palace. On November 7, 1997, Reed students reenacted the siege by storming Eliot Hall.

The siege began a little closer to noon than anticipated, and as the revolutionary speech-making ran on, a "revolutionary" was heard to yell from the crowd, "Hurry up and storm the palace before the aristocrats go out to lunch!" Representatives of both the revolution and the bourgeoisie engaged in a back-and-forth of propaganda, cheers, and hisses that escalated until shots were fired (from toy guns) into the crowd of high society. Aleksandr Kerensky's stand-in made a narrow escape from the Bolsheviks in a community safety vehicle.

Political scientist Darius Rejali stood on a balcony and hurled counter-revolutionary epithets at the masses--such as "Go back to Switzerland!" or "You are all bald!"--making them stagger in their tracks.

Although the original storming of the Winter Palace was by no means the massive popular uprising that it was to become in the Bolshevik commemorations and in Sergei Eisenstein's film October, it was certainly the moment of symbolic birth of the Soviet state. One can only wonder what the Reed reenactment will bear.



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