29 January 2018 is the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the so-called Kiev Arsenal Uprising – an armed insurrection of Bolshevik workers in support of the invading Soviet forces. This was taking place within the bigger picture of the Ukrainian- Soviet war, essentially a conflict between the Ukrainian Peoples Republic and the Bolsheviks.
Supporters of the Bolsheviks in Kiev planned a revolt to be initiated at the Kiev Arsenal factory, designed to begin when the Soviet Army was in the process of invading Kiev. It was reasoned that this would force the Ukrainian Government to take some of their forces back from the front line and thereby assist the invaders.
However, the Ukrainian Government was ready for such a manoeuvre and confiscated a large quantity of arms from the factory and also arrested several key Bolshevik activists.
Nevertheless the uprising began on the morning of 29 January when the mutineers, assisted by Bolshevik sympathisers from within the ranks of the military, demanded that the Central Council of Ukraine surrender. This demand was refused and the city descended into chaotic scenes of fighting.
As anticipated the Ukrainians were forced to direct large bodies of troops back to the city to restore order and they were able to recapture the Arsenal after bitter fighting.
However this victory was only short lived. Soon after, on 4 February, the Bolshevik Army entered Kiev and laid siege to the Arsenal, finally taking control of the area 3 days later. The Kiev Arsenal had been the site of bitter fighting for more than a week, as the conflict see-sawed around the district.
The battle was regarded as a revolutionary classic in Russia and the historic defensive wall of the Arsenal was preserved as a memorial. In addition a nearby street was renamed “January Uprising Street” soon after.
Image: A group of armed workers involved n the Kiev Uprising of January 1918, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.