Unit 15: Era of World Wars / Soviet Union
Order Number 1
From "Order Number 1 of the Petrograd Soviet." As reproduced in Documents of Russian History, ed. Frank Golder (New York: Century, 1927), 386-387.
The February Revolution also prompted the formation of Soviets, or councils, modeled on groups of workers and revolutionaries that had first appeared during the Revolution of 1905. After the abdication of the tsar in 1917, the Soviets, along with the Provisional Government composed of Duma members, made competing claims to the authority to rule Russia. With their strong base of support in Russia's major cities, the Soviets claimed legitimacy based on their appeal to "the people." The Petrograd Soviet, the most famous and powerful of the councils, issued its Order Number 1 to Russian soldiers in March 1917, seeking to gain support from the frontline troops.


To the garrison of the Petrograd okrug, to all the soldiers of the guard, army, artillery, and navy, for immediate and strict execution, and to the workers of Petrograd for their information:

The Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies has resolved:

1. In all companies, battalions, regiments, parks, batteries, squadrons, in the special services of the various military administrations, and on the vessels of the navy, committees of elected representatives from the lower ranks of the above-mentioned military units shall be chosen immediately.

2. In all those military units that have not yet chosen their representatives to the Soviet of Workers' Deputies, one representative from each company shall be selected, to report with written credentials at the building of the State Duma by ten o'clock in the morning on the third of this March.

3. In all its political activities the military branch is subordinated to the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies and to its own committees.

4. The orders of the military commission of the State Duma shall be executed only in such cases as they do not conflict with the orders and resolutions of the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies.

5. All kinds of arms, such as rifles, machine guns, armored automobiles and others, must be kept at the disposal and under the control of the company and battalion committees and must in no case be turned over to officers, even at their demand.

6. In the ranks and during their performance of the duties of the service, soldiers must observe the strictest military discipline, but outside the service and the ranks, in their political, general civic, and private lives, soldiers cannot in any way be deprived of those rights that all citizens enjoy. In particular, standing at attention and compulsory saluting, when not on duty, are abolished.

7. Also, the addressing of the officers with the titles "Your Excellency," "Your Honor," and the like, is abolished, and these titles are replaced by the address of "Mister General," "Mister Colonel," and so forth. Rudeness toward soldiers of any rank, and, especially, addressing them as "thou," is prohibited, and soldiers are required to bring to the attention of the company committees every infraction of this rule, as well as all misunderstandings occurring between officers and enlisted men.

The present order is to be read to all companies, battalions, regiments, ships' crews, batteries, and other combatant and noncombatant commands.

The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies