The Progressive Admiral

(Zeferli/Getty Images) A progressive admiral is removed from command and arrested at a stroke of revolutionary whim.

Editor’s Note: The following piece is excerpted from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Red Wheel, Node III: March 1917, Book 3, newly translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz, and reprinted with permission from the University of Notre Dame Press. The Red Wheel is Solzhenitsyn’s multivolume epic work about the Russian Revolution told in the form of dramatized history. This excerpt presents a riveting account of the arrest of Admiral Adrian Nepenin, a progressive admiral who had welcomed the February Revolution that led to the overthrow of the czarist regime, but who now finds himself the victim of an insurrection by revolutionary sailors. All military authority has broken down even as Russia is still a belligerent in the First World War. In a subsequent chapter, Nepenin will be cruelly murdered.

Ground detachments had been drifting into port since early morning, wishing to see the admiral, wishing to have their own soviet of deputies.

Nepenin received the sailor deputies and heard them out. He ordered tea and bread prepared for their meeting in the joiners workshop.

Then he received the officers

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