The Russian Empire- Russia, being the Autocracylargest country in theworld, was difficult to Know that autocracyrule and the population gives the governmentexisted as a feudal complete control oversociety. the people.- This meant that poor - The Russianfarming peasants were government wasunder the control of unwilling to share thepowerful landlords, decision makingwho controlled their processes with thelives. general public.
Internal Problems- Regardless, many still - Eight out of tenbelieved that efforts Russians lived ashad to be made to peasants who laboredreform the country to under terriblecatch up with West. conditions. Life in general was one of hardship and suffering.
Leadership of RussiaIn 1894 a new Tsar (king)came to power namedNicholas II of theRomanov dynasty.Russia was not to benefitfrom the rule of NicholasII, as he believed Godhad chosen him to rulealone. He was notinterested in sharing thepower to rule overRussia, but he came tothe throne at a time whenpeople were calling tothis to occur.
Nicholas Cont’dIn addition, he was She believed thatphysically weak, not very Rasuptin was able tosmart, and was a bad control her son’sjudge of people. This hemophilia (a diseasemade him easy to be where uncontrollableinfluenced by all sorts of bleeding occurs).poor advisors. One of Rasuptin used histhese weak advisors was position to have his frienda monk named Gregory appointed to posts in theRasputin. Rasputin Russian government.gained access to theroyal family because ofthe Tsar’s wife EmpressAlexandra.
Bloody SundayDuring the Russo As the crowd entered theJapanese war, the square in front of thesuffering people in the palace they were met bycapital city of St hundreds of soldiers. ThePetersburg gathered on soldiers opened fire uponSunday 22 January to the demonstrators.ask the Tsar for food. The Hundreds of civilianswinter of 1904-5 was a were killed in whatvery harsh one and became known aspeople were starving to “Bloody Sunday.” Thedeath. The people saw shock that followed thisthe Czar as a father event led to strikes andfigure to the country and violence throughout thebelieved that he did not country.know his people werestarving. The peoplewanted to go to thepalace to explain to himthe problems they faced.
The DumaThe Czar and his Some Russians feltgovernment were able that this was notto avoid a major enough, but for most,revolution by promising they believed thatto set up aDuma(a type Russia was moving inparliament where the right direction. Apeople would be major revolution waselected). Although it avoided, but a stronglooked like the Czar movement bywas sharing power, revolutionary socialiststheDumawas almost continued to push forpowerless in the big radical changes.picture.
Menshevik & BolshevikSocialist groups The Bolsheviks believedcontinued to push for a that Russia must gochange in the way the through the variousRussia was ruled. These stages of historicalgroups fought with the evolution as defined bygovernment and Karl Marx. Each stagethemselves in the attempt must be completedto define the future of the before the country couldcountry. These battles led reach the ideal socialistto a split of the socialist society that Marxparty into two groups predicted.called the Menshevik(Russian for minority) andBolshevik parties(Russian for majority).
A radical group of He proposed that asocialists called the small party ofBolsheviks split off “professionalfrom the Mensheviks. revolutionaries” seizeVladimir IlyichUlyanov, power and drive thewho took the nickname working classes intoLenin to protect himself the vision proposed byfrom the secret police, Marx. In other wordsled the group. He he did not trust thebelieved that a different people to make thecourse was necessary right decisionsto develop the ideal necessary to achievesocialist society. socialism.
The Russian Army- By 1917 the armywas near collapse. TheRussian solider whohad a reputation ofbeing brave, tough andloyal had been broken.Massive losses, nomedical treatment forwounded, limitedweapons and food, andbegan to lose moraleand a willingness tofight.
The Home FrontWith the war going While he was at thebadly for Russia, the front, he left his wifeTsar decided to take Empress Alexandra inmatters into his own charge of affairs. Shehands. He believed was not trained in thethat under his personal inner workings ofcommand his armies government andwould fight like never listened to the advicebefore. of Rasputin.
Ra Ra RasputinRasputin used his Although the rumorsinfluence to put his were false, many infriends into powerful Russia began togovernment positions. believe them.During this time, many Ultimately, Rasputinfalse rumors began to was killed by a groupcirculate among the of men trying to protectpeople that Rasputin the prestige of theand Alexandra were Russian throne. Theselovers. Other rumors problems, combinedwere spread that with the poorAlexandra was trying to performance of thelose the war on army, led to politicalpurpose because she great unrest.was German.
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The Czar Abdicates- The Czar attempted to return to St Petersburgto take control of the situation, buttheDumaannounced that they did not recognizethe leadership of the Czar any longer. They alsoannounced the formation of a Provisional(temporary) Government to run the country in theabsence of the Czar. Nicholas II was shocked bythe reaction of his people and was crushed bytheir lack of support. He abdicated the throne on15 March 1917.
The Provisional Government- During this time of confusion within Russia,many former exiles returned to carry out changesto the system. One of the major players to returnfrom Switzerland was Vladimir Lenin. Lenin wasbrought to Russia by the German army in asealed railcar. They wanted him to undermine theRussian war effort. They never believed that hewould be able to seize power and change thehistory of Europe.
The November/October RevolutionUnder the leadership of Lenin, the Bolshevikparty gained strong support from the workers andsoldiers inside the city of St Petersburg. AsLenin’s support grew, the ProvisionalGovernment suffered further defeats at thehands of the German Army. In addition, majorplots against the government by socialist andsupporters of the Tsar began to erode its power.
November/October RevolutionOn the night of 7 November 1917, Lenin madehis move to seize power. The Bolshevikssurrounded the Winter Palace where theProvisional Government was meeting andarrested everyone. Lenin’s party immediatelymoved into the government offices and began toissue orders to run the country. Russianhistorians have described this series of events asthe October Revolution. This can causeconfusion because Russia used the Juliancalendar, so what the rest of Europe callsNovember, they call October.
Russia Backs out of WWI Of primary importance to Lenin was to find anend to the war. Lenin was prepared to seekpeace at any cost with the Germans so that therevolution could continue. The Bolsheviks wereprepared to give anything to the Germansbecause they believed in Marx’s theory aboutrevolution. If a revolution occurs in one country, itwill quickly spread to others. Thus, they believedthat Germany was next to have the workers riseup and seize control. Lenin believed that ImperialGermany would not last long, so he gave to theGerman demands.
Treaty of Brest-LitovskOn 3 March 1917 Russia and Germany signedthe Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Contained in theharsh treaty (some historians state that thistreaty was worse that the Treaty of Versailles)was the demand that Russia give up Finland,Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Ukraineand the Transcaucasia. These areas were to beoccupied by German troops and supply Germanywith much needed supplies (the treaty was neverenforced because Germany lost the war and theAllies did not give Germany any territories).
Civil WarWith peace established with Germany, the war continued within theboundaries of Russia.The forces led by Lenin and the Bolsheviks were called the “Reds,”(red has been the color of revolution since the French Revolution)while forces opposed to him where termed “White” (white hastraditionally been the color of royalty).The White forces received support from the Western Allies during theinternal war. The United States, England and Canada hadcontingents of men inside of Russia initially to guard supplies theyhad sent during the war, but they were in a position to fight if theirgovernments thought necessary.The Red Army was able to defeat the much larger White armies overthe course of the three-year conflict. The Red Army was led byfanatical communists who were prepared to do what ever wasnecessary to preserve the revolution.
The Red TerrorDuring the civil war, Lenin imposed “War Communism” toensure victory. For rural peasants, this meant that the foodthey produced was seized without payment. In the cities,workers were forbidden to strike and placed under militarydiscipline. The results of these measures allowed the Reds towin the civil war, but caused horrible problems for the future.Farm peasants refused to plant more crops as they believedthat the communists were going to take it anyway. This led toa famine that claimed the lives of 7.5 million Russians.Millions of others lived just above the starvation level.Lenin also saw the need to stabilize the government andcountry by eliminating people who did not support therevolution. This period became known as the “Red Terror.”During the terror, Lenin had people inside and outside of theparty eliminated to ensure the success of the communisttakeover (the Bolsheviks changed their name to theCommunist Party in 1918). Thousands of people disappearedduring the purge, but the plan helped control the opposition tothe Communist Party.
The Problem of Changing a SocietySlowly the Communist Party became involvedwith all aspects of an individual’s politics andpersonal lives. Although many of the policies metwith limited success, over time, they becameaccepted as a way of live within the newlycreated society.
The Failing Health of Lenin The attempt to put into In 1918 he had been practice the theories of shot in an assassination Karl Marx became all- attempt and had never consuming for Lenin. fully recovered from his Lenin would spend wounds. His health was countless hours over further complicated by matters of state and in two large strokes that establishing the power of partially paralyzed him. the Communist Party Ultimately he died on 21 through out the country. January 1924. In his Yet, Lenin’s health began honor, the city of to suffer. Petrograd was renamed Leningrad and his body was enshrined near the Kremlin in Moscow.
Power Struggle in the Party One of the most difficult The “Rightist” were led by problems faced by a country Nikolai Bukharin (with the that does not elect its head of support of Josef Stalin) who state becomes who replaces wanted to continue the the leader upon their death In program laid out by Lenin for addition to the problem of the next twenty or more years. selecting Lenin’s replacement, Leon Trotsky, who believed the party had split into two that the country must become camps within the Politburo. heavily industrialized, led the “Left Opposition”. The purpose of the industrialization was to build weapons to resist the West should they try to destroy Communism. A vicious power struggle was to emerge for control of the Party and the country.