Introduction The Russian Revolution was like a firecracker with a very long fuse. The explosion came in 1917, yet the fuse had been burning for nearly a century. The cruel, oppressive rule of most 19th-century czars caused widespread social unrest for decades. Army officers revolted in 1825. Secret revolutionary groups plotted to overthrow the government.
In 1881, revolutionaries angry over the slow pace of political change assassinated the reform-minded czar, Alexander II. Russia was heading toward a full-scale revolution.
Czars Resist Change
End to Reform In 1881, Alexander III becomes czar and ends the reforms of his father, Alexander II. Alexander III institutes autocratic rule , suppressing all opposition and decent.
Czars Continue Autocratic Rule Government censors written criticism; secret police monitor schools Non-Russians living in Russia are treated harshly
Anti-Jewish Pogroms Jews become target of government backed pogroms (organized persecutions) Alexander III encourages Jewish emigration to the United States during this time. The musical Fiddler on the Roof is set in this era.
In 1894, Nicholas II becomes czar and continues autocratic ways
Rapid Industrialization Number of factories doubles between 1863 and 1900, but Russia still lags behind other European countries. In late 1800s, new plan boosts steel production and a major railway begins
The Revolutionary Movement Grows Industrialization breeds discontent over working conditions and wages. Growing popularity of Marxist idea that proletariat (workers) will rule Bolsheviks—Marxists who favor revolution by a small committed group
Lenin Lenin—Bolshevik leader—an excellent organizer and inspiring leader
Crisis at Home and Abroad
The Russo-Japanese War Defeat in the Russo-Japanese War in the early 1900s causes unrest in Russia.
Bloody Sunday: The Revolution of 1905 In 1905, 200,000 workers march on the czar’s palace to demand reforms The army fires into the crowd, killing many Massacre leads to widespread unrest; Nicholas if forced to make reforms
The short lived Duma The Duma, Russia’s first parliament, meets in 1906 Czar is unwilling to share power, dissolves the Duma after only 10 weeks
World War I: The Final Blow Heavy losses in World War I reveal government’s weakness Nicholas goes to war front; Czarina Alexandra runs government in his absence
Czarina falls under the influence of Rasputin—a mysterious “holy man”— who she believes has the power to heal her son. Nobles fear Rasputin’s influence and murder him Army losing effectiveness; people at home are hungry and unhappy
The March Revolution
First Steps In March 1917, strikes expand; soldiers refuse to fire on workers. Most of the tension is caused by Nicholas II personally taking command of the military in World War I, and the war going so badly.
The Czar Steps Down March Revolution—protests become uprising; Nicholas abdicates throne Duma establishes provisional, or temporary government Soviets—committees of Socialist revolutionaries—control many cities
Lenin Returns to Russia In April 1917, Germans aid Lenin in returning from exile to Russia (pictured in disguise with his goatee shaved and wearing a wig).
The Bolshevik Revolution
The Provisional Government Topples In November 1917, workers take control of the government
Bolsheviks in Power Lenin gives land to peasants, puts workers in control of factories Bolsheviks sign treaty with Germany; Russia pulls out of World War I
Civil War Rages in Russia Civil War between Bolsheviks’ Red Army and loosely allied White Army Red Army wins three-year war that leaves 14 million dead
Comparing World Revolutions Russian and French Revolutions are similar—both attempt to remake society and use violence against citizens who resist these changes.
Lenin Restores Order
New Economic Policy In March 1921, Lenin launches New Economic Policy; has some capitalism NEP and peace restore economy shattered by war and revolution By 1928, Russia’s farms and factories are producing again
Political Reforms Lenin creates self-governing republics under national government In 1922, country renamed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) Communist Party—new name taken by Bolsheviks from the writings of Marx
Stalin Becomes Dictator
A New Leader Trotsky and Stalin compete to replace Lenin after Lenin’s death Joseph Stalin— LeonTrotsky cold, hard Communist Party general secretary in 1922 Joseph Stalin
Stalin gains power from 1922 to 1927 Lenin dies in 1924 Stalin gains complete power in 1928; Room where Trotsky is forced into Trotsky was murdered exile. (above); Trotsky’s Trotsky is murdered murderer, in Mexico City in 1940 NKVD agent, Romón by an NKVD agent. Mercader (right).