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The Great War
Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Timeline Maps & Battles The Shaping of the 21st Century Historians
Historians OverviewOrlando Figes

Storming the Winter Palace
Orlando Figes
"It was essential to Soviet propaganda that the people who took power in the storming of the Winter Palace were disciplined soldiers.

"In fact, what took place immediately after the storming of the Winter Palace cast a large shadow of doubt over that. Because when they took the Winter Palace, they found in its basement the largest wine cellar ever known to history. There was the supply of the Tsar's favorite wine, a Chateau de Calme of 1847, the grandest of the grand vintners. The leading mob that had taken the Winter Palace immediately began ransacking these cellars.

"The drinking from the cellar, and the looting that accompanied it, continued for several weeks.

"The Bolsheviks didn't know how to control the situation. They tried to barricade the cellars with a wall, but the mob simply knocked it down. They tried to pipe the wine out of the cellar basement and into the Neva, but they found crowds assembling around the drains drinking the booze out of the drainpipes. They thought of exploding the wine cellar, but thought it would damage the palace. And, indeed, even thought of exporting it to Sweden.

"At the beginning of December, the Bolsheviks had to impose martial law on Petrograd because of the chaos. It wasn't until the new year that Petrograd, perhaps with the biggest hangover in history, finally woke up and got back to some order."

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