The Causes and Consequences of
the Russian Revolutions
(1905, Feb 1917 & Oct 1917)
1An event of historical Importance
Some historians argue that the Russian revolution of 1917 was the
most significant event of the 20th
– The results of this revolution created a bi-polar world that in the
nuclear age post-1945 threatened the extinction of the planet.
– The struggle between capitalism and communism dominated the
twentieth century and this conflict can trace its origins to those
momentous events in 1917.
What’s in a date?
In 1917 Russia still used the Julian calendar, which
was 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used by
the rest of the Western world.
Early in 1918 the Bolsheviks adopted the Gregorian
calendar. The revolution, which overthrew Tsarist
rule in 1917, occurred in February according to one
calendar and in March according to the other.
What kind of country did Nicholas inherit?
(Good points to remember for Focus Question One: What factors contributed to
revolution in Russia?)
• Rapid population growth – hard to feed, major famines in 1891 and 1898
• Agriculture was the main source of wealth BUT old fashioned methods used,
technologically backward and poor crop outputs.
• Poor communications and transport routes
• Huge and inefficient civil service (bureaucracy)
• Industrialisation led to changes in the class structure including:
– the rise of the bourgeoisie (commercial and intellectual middle class) who wanted
more say in the government
– the rise of the proletariat (industrial working class)
– the need for an educated workforce.
• Peasants migrating into cities due to famine and to work in factories
• Living conditions in cities very poor for urban workers
• Dangerous working conditions and long working hours in factories
• Very poorly educated working class/peasantry, lack of skilled workers
• Revolutionaries infiltrating and educating working class/peasants
• Strikes and riots by workers and peasants due to their working and living conditions
• Foreign investment meant profits left the country
• Over 100 different nationalities within Russia
Russia in 1905
• Russia was an enigma.
• It was feared because of its size.
• It was a backward still medieval nation.
• The Tsar was an Autocrat.
• He was supported by Nobles (1.1%)
• Government was small, inefficient and resistant to change. (4%)
• Most of its population were uneducated, superstitious, peasants.
• The Church relied on Royal patronage and supported this system.
• Literacy was the lowest in Europe. (11%)
• It had little or no industrialisation and few urban workers. (5%)
• There were almost no Middle Class. 5
Russia: Social Groups
• The Nobility: 1.1%
• The Priests: 1.1%
• The Officials: 3.7%
• The Military: 5.0%
• The Merchants: 0.5%
• Urban Workers: 3.7%
• Serfs: 84.9%
Russian Social Groups 1897
Russian Social Groups 1897
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
The Autocratic System
Political Oppression No political parties were allowed. No-one could openly express
opposition to the Tsar or his policies.
Censorship No freedom of press or speech. Strict censorship of books
allowed into Russia. Education was censored and Western ideas
Serfdom The social system under which people were the property of the
nobles or the Tsar to whom they owed labour in exchange for the
use of land. They had no personal freedoms. This system had
died out in most of Europe by the late 17th century. 19thC
change made little real difference.
Church (The Russian
Close links between the Church and the government. The Tsar
was the head of the Church and the Church taught that 'God
commands us to love and obey the Tsar'.
Army The Tsar was head of the army which was used to put down any
rebellions against the government
Bureaucracy The Tsar maintained a huge public service to carry out his
policies. Most of these bureaucrats came from the nobility.
Notorious for corruption, delays and inefficiency.
Secret Police They were used to check on political opponents and
• The system of the Tsars (Czars) was called Autocracy:
– no legal restrictions on the Tsar’s power
– a top down form of Government designed to keep the
– No elected representation.
– developed to prevent the huge empire from breaking
• By 1900 it was obvious that
Russia lagged far behind
Western Europe and
modernisation became an
issue for each Tsar.
• No-one seemed to have the
ability, the desire or the will to
begin the process.
• The small size of the
meant it unable to assist and
like most groups had little
reason to support the process.
Forces of Change
Forces of change Forces of continuity
• Intelligentsia (Educated) • Illiterate peasantry
• Education (Spread of new ideas) • Censorship
• Revolutionary Ideas (Challenges to
• Conservative ideas of nobles and
peasants (favoured status quo)
• Liberal ideas of Tsars • Repressive policies of the Tsars
• Gradual growth of middle class • Weak middle class due to economic
• Gradual growth of working class • Weak working class due to no industrial
• War • Poor military leadership and lack of
• Industrialisation • Serfdom and bonds which tied
peasants to the land
• Nationalism among oppressive minority
• Russian nationalism and Russification
policies of the Tsars
Local Authority: Zemstva
• The nobility had administering local affairs on
• A new body was needed to organise:
– maintenance of roads and bridges;
– upkeep of hospitals, prisons;
– promotion of industry and agriculture;
– prevention of famine;
– responsibility for public health and
– the welfare of the poor.
• Elected local governments, Zemstva were
introduced in 1864:
– All classes could elect members to the
Zemstva but system heavily favoured
– In1866 - 74% of delegates in Zemstva were
Enforcing the Tsars Will: Cossacks & Army
• The Cossacks were a nomadic people
who lived on the fringes of Russian
• The Tsars exploited their position as
outsiders and used them as their
• Whenever and wherever there was an
uprising the Cossacks arrived to enforce
the Tsar’s will.
• They were considered cruel and
barbaric, and were widely hated.
• The Army also held a special place and
owed their privileges to the Tsar.
• Whenever needed the Army could be
relied upon to support the Tsar.
The Okhrana: the Secret Police
• The Tsar relied on the Secret Police
to track any dissent.
• Opposition groups were often
targeted and once convicted could
face death or exile to Siberia.
• By 1905 a number of dissident
(Revolutionary) groups had formed
amongst the small Middle classes.
• Many fled abroad to avoid
Revolutionary Groups (NAP.M)
1. rejected all forms of authority.
2. a movement of ideas (rather than a political organisation).
3. it helped to undermine tsarist authority.
Anarchists (took Nihilists ideas a step further)
1. Localised government instead of central government.
2. To this end they favoured terrorism.
1. Landowners to lose their land for re-distribution among the peasantry.
2. The tsarist government would be overthrown and replaced with a democratic
3. The Tsar was the ‘little father’ of the peasants and they blamed the landowners
and the bureaucrats for their problems.
1. Based upon the ideas of a German, Karl Marx and the control of the “means of
2. Socialism could only be achieved by class conflict, or revolution, between the
industrial working class and their employers. 16
only to a very
small number of
The Russian Orthodox Church
• The Tsar was the head of the Church.
• The Church had been a government
department since 1721.
• It receiving a fifth of its income from the
government and enjoying a privileged
position in Russian society.
• In return the Church preached that
obedience to the Tsar was a religious duty.
• It supported the notion of the Divine Rule of
Kings- that this was part of God’s great plan,
that ‘God commands us to love and obey
• Many Peasant referred to the Tsar as
‘father’ such was their regard for the
A Force for Change: Industrialisation & Class
• Industrialisation led to changes in the class structure
– the rise of the bourgeoisie (commercial and intellectual middle class)
– the decline of the aristocracy
– the rise of the proletariat (industrial working class)
– the need for an educated workforce.
• The Tsarist governments faced many problems as they
attempted to modernise Russia's backward economic and
social structure as such changes had the potential to affect
the position of the Tsar.
Lionel Kochan’s Russia
• This meant that no matter how fast industry grew, it
could not handle the sheer influx of people needing
• “As late as 1913, industry employed not much more
than five per cent of the entire labour force and
contributed only about one-fifth of the national
• Because of the government’s policy of getting the
peasants to pay for the industry through high tariffs
on imported goods, there were large famines in 1891
Lionel Kochan’s Russia #2
• There was a “virtual prohibition on strikes and trade
• Any time people tried to strike or protest they were
dealt to by police or troops (Cossacks)
• The Tsar did not know how to deal with his new
• “It will never be possible to estimate at its full extent the
contribution made to the, Russian crisis by the policy of
Russification and the enforced conversion to Greek
Orthodoxy of Catholics, Jews, Moslems, Lutherans and
FACTS and STATS
St Petersberg Moscow
1881 928,000 753,500
1890 1,033,600 1,038,600
1900 1,439,600 1,345,000
Population growth in Russia’s main
cities, 1881 - 1900
Only 11% of adults
were able to write in
Only 2% of total population
was at school in 1881
The profits from
between 1890 and 1900
Between 1867 and 1896 the
population went from 63
million to 99 million! By 1913
the population was 122
Urban Workers “Home”.
The 1903 Menshevik-Bolshevik Split
• Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov, better known as
Lenin, insisted that the Socialist
• small, elite, disciplined;
• strongly centralised;
• consisting of professionals whose lives were
devoted to the cause of communist revolution.
• Most of the party (including Trotsky)
disagreed, preferring a movement that was:
• working class
When the party split, Lenin
adopted the term Bolshevik, the
Russian word for ‘majority’ to his
small group, while labelling the
rest of the Democrats
‘Menshevik’, or ‘minority’. He
claimed that on a minor matter
relating to the party newspaper,
his supporters were in the
The effect of this word game was
to give the impression that his
views were widely accepted.
Lenin. He should have been in
Marxism vs Socialism vs Communism vs
• Marxism, social and political theory based on the works of Karl Marx and his
followers, associated with the socialist and communist movements.
• Socialism, concept and party-based political movement, originally based in the
organized working class, generally antagonistic towards capitalism. While the final
aim of socialists was a communist or classless society (see Communism), they
increasingly concentrated on social reforms within capitalism. As the movement
developed, the concept itself acquired different meanings in different times and
• Communism, term in political science denoting either a society where all property
is held in common or a political movement whose final aim is the establishment of
such a society.
• Bolshevism is the term used to describe the Bolsheviks’ version of Communism
(especially it includes specifics such as organizing the party in a strongly centralized
hierarchy that sought to overthrow the Tsar and achieve power, a rigid adherence
to the leadership of the central committee, general refusal to co-operate with
liberal or radical parties (which they labeled "bourgeois").
Nicholas – Personality portrait
• Lacked intelligence and imagination to meet the
enormous challenges of Russia
• Did not want the job
• He was firm in his desire to continue the autocratic
legacy of his family
• Described as shy and weak-willed
• Often found the work boring
• Great family man, loved his wife and children
• Under the thumb of his German wife Alexandra
“I am not prepared to be Tsar. I never wanted to
become one. I know nothing of the business of ruling. I
have no idea of even how to talk to ministers.”
- Nicholas II to his cousin
The Last Romanov
Nicholas II (1894 - 1917)
• In 1894 Nicholas II married German
princess Alexandra, Queen
• She was a strong-willed, deeply
religious woman who became a
strong influence over her husband.
• They had four daughters and one
son (Alexei, who had haemophilia)
• Nicholas was an unintelligent and
unwilling ruler but was determined
to uphold the system.
The 1904-5 Russo-Japanese War
• Both Russia and Japan because wanted to expand
into Manchuria and Korea.
• Russia was willing to risk an armed conflict
believing that Japan was bound to be defeated and
that a Russian victory would head off the growing
threat of internal revolution in Russia.
• Initially the prospect of war was greeted with
support as jingoism and racial superiority meant
that many expected a quick victory.
• In February 1904 negotiations broke down.
• Two days later, without warning, the Japanese
attacked Port Arthur.
• The Russian Pacific Fleet was effectively destroyed
while still at anchor.
The Wars Progress.
• A series of quick Japanese victories, which astounded the
world, culminated in the fall of Port Arthur (Jan., 1905).
• The victory of troops under General Oyama at Shenyang (Feb.–
• The destruction of the Russian fleet at Tsushima by
Admiral Togo’s fleet (May, 1905).
• U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt mediated a peace treaty
was in September 1905 (the Treaty of Portsmouth)
• The disastrous outcome of the war for Russia was one of the
immediate causes of the Russian Revolution of 1905.
• Japan gained the position of a world power, becoming the first
non-European and non-American imperialist modern state.
Reaction to the War
• This war made Russians angry with their government because…
– Defeat after defeat saw many blame the Generals leading the
– 89,000 Russians were killed in the battle for Shenyang alone.
– National pride was dented. No Western Nation had lost a war
in Asia before.
– the worst naval disaster in Russian history in Tsushima.
– The complete failure to win the war saw many blame the
– 100,000 in St Petersburg went on strike when they heard news
of the Port Arthur surrender
1905 Bloody Sunday
• The Russian people continued to blame the losses in the
war and their poor conditions on the Bureaucrats.
• They turned to the their ‘Little Father”.
• On 9th Jan 1905: 200,000 people, led by a priest, Father
Gapon, marched to the Winter Palace to petition the Tsar
(who wasn’t even there) for:
– Better working conditions
– The right to join unions
– The right to vote for a parliament
– An end to the war with Japan.
Bloody Sunday: Petition
• The petition began:
‘Sire, we workers and our wives,
children and helpless old parents,
have come to you, our ruler, to seek
justice and protection. We have
become beggars… We are treated
not as human beings, but as slaves.
We have reached that awful moment
when death is better than the
continuation of unbearable
A young Alexander Kerensky
watched the march:
‘It was an amazing sight.
From the direction of the
working-class districts came
row upon row of orderly
workers, all dressed in their
best clothes. [Father] Gapon
marched in front, carrying a
cross and a number of
workers were holding
pictures of the Tsar.’
Gapon described what happened next:
‘Suddenly the company of Cossacks
galloped rapidly towards us with drawn
swords. So then, it was to be a massacre
after all. There was no time for giving
orders. A cry of alarm arose as the
Cossacks came down upon us. Our front
ranks broke before them, opening to right
and left, and down this lane the soldiers
drove their horses, striking on both sides.
I saw the swords lifting and falling, the
men, women and children dropping to the
earth like logs of wood, while moans,
curses and shouts filled the air… Without
any warning the dry crack of many rifle-
shots was heard… I turned to the crowd
and shouted to them to lie down…
another volley was fired, and another, and
Alexandra Kollontai, a marcher, wrote:
‘At first I saw the children who were hit [by
rifle fire] and dragged down from the trees…
We heard the clatter of hooves. The Cossacks
rode right into the crowd and slashed with
their sabres like madmen. A terrible confusion
The official report of events was different:
‘Gapon… excited the workers. In some places
bloody clashes took place between workers
and troops because of the stubborn refusal of
the crowd to obey the command to go home,
and sometimes even because of attacks upon
W. Sablinki in his book, "The Road To Bloody Sunday", quotes an
eyewitness' account as evidence for his opinion that Bloody
Sunday was a turning point in the revolution:
"I observed the faces around me and detected neither fear nor
panic. No, the reverend and almost peaceful expressions were
replaced by hostility and even hatred.
The revolution had been truly born, and it had been born in the
very core, in the very bowels of the people. In that one vital
moment the popular myth of a Good Tsar which had sustained
the regime through the centuries was suddenly destroyed.
Only moments after the shooting had ceased an old man turned
to a boy of 14 and said to him with his voice full of anger
'Remember, son, remember and swear to repay the Tsar. You saw
how much blood he spilled did you not? Then swear son, swear.' "
The 1905 Revolution
• News of Bloody Sunday spread quickly.
• Workers and Peasants who had been unhappy
about the war and their own situation rose up in
• Peasants supported by the SR rioted.
• The Tsar was criticised at Zemstva meetings.
• Urban Workers went on strike.
• Government officials were assassinated, including
the Tsars Uncle.
• Nationalist rebellions broke out. (Poles
• More worryingly Military units joined the strikes.
(battleship Potemkin, the Kronstadt naval base)
• Nicholas tried to use the Cossacks to break up the
• In some places the Cossacks refused to follow
Timeline of Events in 1905
To show that they were occurring simultaneously
• Bloody Sunday was the start of a year of murders, strikes and protests
which forced Tsar Nicholas to promise changes in the government of the
Empire. Historians have called these events the Revolution of 1905.
Jan – 100,000 workers strike in St Petersburg
Jan – Bloody Sunday
• February – Grand Duke Sergei Aleksandrovich assassinated (Tsar’s Uncle)
• March – 89,000 Russian soldiers killed in battle for Shenyang
• May – ‘Union of Unions’ set up and St Petersburg Soviet established
May – Tsushima naval disaster
• June – Crew of battleship Potemkin mutinied
• June – Street fighting resulting in the deaths of 2,000 people
September Treaty of Portsmouth concluded.
September – Union of Unions co-ordinated strike of all workers
October 1905 – October Manifesto issued
What options did the Tsar have?
•The tsar initially tried this option by using
the army and especially the Cossacks to
crush rebellions BUT since nearly every
sector of society (excluding the 1.5% of
nobles) supported the protests and strikes
this was an impossible task
•Unrest would likely happen again
•Although the army remained loyal to him
the Tsar’s position of power was
undermined by the naval mutinies
•By October things were very bad for the
Tsar. In order to remain in power he
would have to agree to some of the
demands upon him and give away some
of his power.
•This is what the Tsar did. He issued the
‘There were only two ways open: to find an energetic soldier to crush the rebellion by
sheer force. There would be time to breath then , but likely as not one would have to
use force again in a few months, and that would mean rivers of blood and I the end we
should be where we started. The other way would be to give the people their civil
rights, freedom of speech and press, also to have all laws agreed by a Duma’
- Nicholas in a letter to his mother
The October Manifesto
• Protests were supported by almost every sector
of society (apart from the Nobles).
• Protests and strikes were co-ordinated by the
• The Middle Class called for a democraticly
elected Parliament. (Duma)
• St Petersburg was controlled by the Mensheviks
led by Trotsky.
• Nicholas had no choice and issued the October
– elected representation,
– to consult on new laws,
– made political parties legal,
– allow freedom of speech,
– limit the power of the Okhrana.
• While the middle classes were happy, workers
and peasants were not.
Nicholas had agreed to the creation of a Duma (parliament).
However as soon as the unrest had died down he began to
• Voting system fixed – landowners votes worth more than peasants
• While the Duma was being established he passed the
– The Tsar alone made laws
– The Tsar alone controlled foreign affairs
– The Tsar alone could appoint and dismiss ministers
– The Tsar could dissolve the Duma and use emergency powers to rule the
Empire until a new Duma was elected
– The Duma had no say in military matters
– The Tsar kept his title of Autocrat
Nicholas had agreed to the creation of a Duma (parliament).
However as soon as the unrest had died down he began to
– When the 1st
Duma met in 1906 and presented its
demands - he closed it.
– He closed the 2nd
Duma 3 months later.
– He arrested many socialists and changed the franchise,
weakening workers’ right to vote.
– The 3rd
Duma was less disruptive and lasted a full term.
The significance of the 1905
The liberal view:
The changes introduced as a result of the 1905 revolution
show that Russia had embarked on a path of social and
economic reform that would lead to stability in the
countryside and the towns and thus to the stability of the
The traditional Soviet view:
The 1905 revolution had not answered the disenchantment of
revolutionary groups within Russia. Little had changed and
there was no indication that the regime was capable of or
willing to implement any reform. Consequently it was
doomed to face further similar disturbances.
• Nicholas appointed Petyr Stolypin as his Prime
Minister, a reactionary who:
– executed 2000 terrorists and exiled many
– eased demands on peasants (ending
redemption payments) allowing the buying
and selling of land;
– wanted to create a wealthy middle class of
– encouraged industrialisation and the
building of railroads.
• Stolypin was assassinated in 1911.
Lena Goldfields Massacre 1912
• The working conditions at the goldfields were extremely harsh.
• The miners had to work 15 to 16 hours a day. For every thousand workers,
there were more than 700 traumatic accidents.
• Workers wer subject to fines. Wages were given in the form of scrip to be
used in stores owned by the company.
• The distribution of rotten meat at one of the stores sparked a strike
• All the members of the strike committee were arrested.
• Some 2500 people marched towards the goldfield to deliver a complaint of
the arbitrariness of authorities to the prosecutor's office.
• The workers were met by soldiers, who began shooting at the crowd
resulting in 270 dead and 250 wounded (as reported by a local newspaper
• News of the massacre provoked nationwide strikes and protest meetings
totaling more than 300,000 participants, with 700 political strikes during the
month of April, and 1000 strikes on May 6 in the St. Petersburg area alone.
• The position of Grigory Rasputin as the
closest advisor to the Royal family
undermined what little support the
Romanovs still had.
• The key to Rasputin’s position with the
royal family was based on the
remarkable success he had with
treating Alexei's (secret) haemophilia.
• The Tsarina’s belief in him was
obsessive and soon she allowed
Rasputin insight into affairs of state,
and developments with the war
• His position undermined that of
previous royal favourites and caused
concern in the aristocratic class.
• Soon he appeared to control the
Ra Ra Rasputin, Russia’s Greatest Love
Prince Yussupov descibes his first meeting with Rasputin
“As he talked I studied his features closely. There was something really
extraordinary about his peasant face. He was not in the least like a holy
man; on the contrary he looked like a lascivious, malicious satyr.
I was particularly struck by the revolting expression in his eyes, which
were very small, set close together, and so deep-sunk in their sockets
that at a distance they were invisible. But even at close quarters it was
sometimes difficult to know whether they were open or shut, and the
impression one had was that of being pierced with needles rather than
of merely being looked at.
His glance was both piercing and sullen; his sweet and insipid smile was
almost as revolting as the expression of his eyes. There was something
base in his unctuous countenance; something wicked, crafty and
sensual. Mlle G. and her mother never took their eyes off him, and
seemed to drink in every word he spoke.”
Rasputin and the Romanovs
Death of Rasputin 2
This cartoon reveals how some saw Rasputin as a figure, larger than life who
had captured the royal family. The Tsar is portrayed as a simpering fool.
Russia and World War I
WWI : The original Domino Effect
World War I
• Russia entered the war as part of its agreement to back Serbia in a war with Austria-
• The declaration of war was greeted with enthusiasm.
• Russia was ill prepared for this conflict despite a rearmament program.
• At the first major battle, at Tannenberg , 95,000 Russians were captured and 30,000
killed. General Samsonov committed suicide.
• Defeat followed defeat. The Russian Army appeared to be constantly in retreat.
• Initially, as in 1905, Russians blamed the Army Commanders.
• Foolishly Nicholas decided to take charge of the Army, leaving the Tsarina in charge at
Nicholas Blesses the Troops
Germans inspect a Russian Trench
The Russian Steamroller
• The Tsar had always relied on the Army to back him. Within 4
months of the war starting, most of his best & loyal troops
were gone, the end of 1914 he had lost 1,000,000 men.
• Losses of this magnitude could not be sustained.
• By 1917 1,700,000 soldiers were dead, 8,000,000 wounded and
2,500,000 taken prisoner.
• By 1917 untrained peasants were sent into battle often without
• Soldiers began to desert….
• With so many peasants conscripted into the army, production
of grain fell.
• Shortages of basic foods became common.
• Unrest began to grow, especially after 1915 when Nicholas
took charge of the Army. This was a major mistake as Nicholas
become personally responsible for the Army’s performance.
• No longer trusting the bureaucrats Nicholas left Alexandra in
• Government became unstable, Ministers came and went.
• Alexandra became more and more reliant upon Rasputin,
whose advice she even gave to Nicholas.
Burying Russian Dead
On the shoulders of the People – Bolshevik anti-war propaganda
The Blackest Devil in Russia
• By the end of 1916 many within St. Petersburg were so
unhappy with Rasputin that they plotted to kill him.
• Seen as a philanderer, a spy and a seducer of the Tsarina,
he had to die.
• On the agreed night Rasputin was invited to dinner and
fed poisoned cakes.
• After several hours when this did not work one of the
conspirators shot him.
• Although he appeared dead, he suddenly sprang up and
• The conspirators ran after him shooting him twice more.
• Bundled up he was then taken to the River and thrown
into a hole in the ice.
• A police search eventually found him.
• An autopsy found the cause of death as drowning….
The Death of Rasputin: Jan 1917
The 1917 February Revolution
• By the start of 1917, Russia’s situation became
• The Army was a shadow of its 1914 self. It was
now a conscript army with no loyalty to the Tsar.
• Unrest grew, made worse by food shortages and
worsening news from the frontline.
• Thousands of Women marched through
Petrograd (renamed because it was too German)
for ‘International Women’s Day’ on Feb 23rd
sang revolutionary songs, carried banners, and
called for an end to Tsardom.
• They were joined by thousands of male Workers.
• By the 25th
Petrograd had ground to a halt.
• Even the Duma seemed frozen and failed to
• Alexandra called on Nicholas to be strong, he
called on the Garrison to suppress the uprising –
the soldiers refused, some joined the protest. 88
• Peasants freed (1861)
• Industrialisation (Witte – 1890s)
• Bolshevik-Menshevik split (1903)
• Russo-Japanese War (1904-05)
• Revolution (1905)
• Rasputin killed (1916)
• February Revolution
• April Thesis
• July Offensive
• Kornilov Revolt
power limited, political
parties legal, freedom
4 mill dead in 1914
Working class increases
Nicholas goes to the front in 1915
Prov Govt vs Pet’d Soviet
‘All power to the Soviets’ &
‘peace, bread, land’
Kerensky crackdown on agitation
Bolsheviks released from prison
• Revolution!! (6-8 Nov)
• Reform (early reform)
• Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918)
• Civil War (1918-22 – war communism)
• Kronstadt Mutiny (March 1921)
• Famine (1921-22)
• Lenin dies (replaced by Stalin)
Lenin announces fall of Prov Govt and all
power to the Soviets
All of Russia under Bols control within
The end of the Autocracy
• When the marchers approached the Duma, many of its
• One member, Kerensky met the crowd, with several
others he formed a new Provisional Government.
• It was only intended to rule until proper elections could
• A renewed Petrograd Soviet had agreed to support the
Provisional Govt. but was in reality also a rival seat of
• Russia had Dual Authorities. (But who was in charge?)
• Nicholas tried to return from the frontline.
• His train was stopped and he was forced to abdicate.
• The Tsarist Autocracy was over.
• The immediate problem for the revolutionaries was what to do…. And who should
The Provisional Government
Supported by middle class
Conservatives, the Army leadership
& moderate Socialists
Favoured slow, considered change
Petrograd SovietPetrograd Soviet
Supported by workers, commonSupported by workers, common
soldiers, the SR, and both thesoldiers, the SR, and both the
Mensheviks and Bolsheviks. AlsoMensheviks and Bolsheviks. Also
part of a national network ofpart of a national network of
Wanted rapid, sweeping changesWanted rapid, sweeping changes
The Provisional Government
• The PG freed all political prisoners, allowed freedom of speech,
allowed labour unions, abolished the Okhrana and gave the
vote to everyone.
• The Soviet criticised it for failing to address the problems of
food, fuel, working conditions and land.
• The biggest problem was land and the war.
• When the Government moved too slowly, the peasants began
to take land for themselves.
• The Government also wanted to fulfill Russia’s obligation to the
Allies and continue the war but the Soviet preferred to
negotiate a peace settlement.
• Without clear direction the Army had no idea what they were
supposed to do.
• Peasants in the army wanted to return to their homes,
especially as land grabbing continued.
The Petrograd Soviet
• The Soviet had real power as it controlled the army, the
railway, the telegraph, and could call on thousands of
• On March 1st
it issued Order No. 1 enforcing the army’s
loyalty to the Soviet. Officers now had to clear orders with
committees elected by their men.
• Its huge size and constant in-fighting meant that the
Soviet was never in a position to seize power.
• Lenin had been exile in Switzerland and did not return
• The Germans agreed to transport him to Russia if he
would withdraw Russia from the war.
• The Bolsheviks were smaller but better organised than
other socialist groups in the Soviet.
• Lenin immediately began to work toward a second
• ‘The soviet has power
without authority; the
has authority without
Lenin Trotsky and Kerensky
• Lenin’s main themes were summed up by his slogans:
“Peace! Bread! Land!” and “All power to the Soviets”
• Trotsky returned from exile in the USA and joined the Bolsheviks
after he heard Lenin speak. (a huge boost for the Bolsheviks as
Trotsky was a brilliant strategist).
• Kerensky was initially a hero but his esteem as Minister for War
was weakened after several events:
1. He led a disastrous campaign against the Germans in June;
2. He used the army to crush Bolsheviks at the Kronstadt Naval
Base who had risen in revolt in July. Many Bolsheviks (including
Trotsky) were arrested and Lenin fled to Finland. This period of
time is known as The July Days.
3. In August, Commander of the Army, General Kornilov led a
counter-revolution. Kerensky panicked and freed the
Bolsheviks calling on the people to support the revolution. It
was Trotsky’s Red Guard who prepared to defend Petrograd.
Lack of support from the army or railway workers meant
Kornilov’s threat evaporated.
• Kerenksy’s weakness saw people turn to Bolshevik strength.
Dual Authority fails.
• Despite Kerensky’s efforts, the Provisional
Government was falling apart.
• Kerensky hoped the November election
would settle the political situation.
• Counter-revolutionaries (the far right –
Kornilov’s former supporters, and the far
left - Bolsheviks) remained a real threat
to stable Government.
• Support for the Bolsheviks continued to
– Food remained in short supply
– The Army’s resistance to the German
advance was negligible.
• Kerensky made the mistake of wanted to
fulfil Russia’s commitment to the Allies.
• Meanwhile Lenin continued to call for
“Peace Bread and Land”
• In October, Lenin called for
revolution. He and Trotsky
recognised workers and soldiers as
key to any uprising. They campaigned
hard for their support.
• The Bolshevik revolution was a
carefully organised takeover that
occurred in the quiet of the night
(compared to the February
revolution): On Oct 24 the Red Guard
occupied key points around the city
(railway, telegraph, bridges, banks).
• The Winter Palace was defended by
Kadets but fell with only the loss of 5
• Kerensky tried to get support from
the Army but could get none, even
though only a few hundred troops
could have stopped the uprising.
The October Revolution
The Bolsheviks in Power:
• Now the Bolsheviks were in charge but
their hold on power was precarious:
– They controlled the largest cities but had
little interest in or influence on the peasants
that made up 85% of the population.
– The economy was in a shambles. Germany
was continuing to advance.
• Almost immediately Lenin:
– called for an end to the war;
– set up the Soviet of People’s Commissars
(Sovnarkom) with Lenin as Chairman,
Trotsky in charge of International Affairs
and Stalin in charge of nationalities.
– allowed peasants to keep land for the time
being (but intended that this would change
as there should be no private property).
The Bolsheviks in Power:
Communism meant everyone was equal and the State would controlCommunism meant everyone was equal and the State would control
thethe Means of ProductionMeans of Production..
Early Bolshevik Reform
Titles were reduced to
transferred to the State
and run by workers
Social Welfare was
pensions and maternity
leave, and divorce
procedures were eased.
lost its lands and
Schools were run by
student vote.Lenin announced any of
Russia’s subject states
could voluntarily break
The Army was
Copy the following star diagram, including a little pictorial symbol for each one:
The Bolsheviks in Power
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
• Trotsky was the negotiator who was
charged with ending the war.
• He refused German demands but Lenin
intervened and the Treaty of Brest-
Litovsk was signed in March 1918.
• Russia lost ¼ of its population, ½ its
industry and ¾ of its coal and iron, and
had to pay reparations of 300 million
• Lenin had left Trotsky to take any
blame for these concessions.
2.4 Perspectives Prep Work
• Identify 5 different people who are involved
with or affected by the Bolshevik Revolution.
These people can be real (eg Kerensky) or
they can be fictional/representative of a group
(eg Josef a peasant).
“Dictatorship of the Working Class”
• Dictatorship of the Working Class was Marx’s term for the
temporary period after a revolution whereby a government
would step in to prevent a return of the old rulers and to set
up the new society. After this the dictatorship would step
aside and things would run themselves.
• Before Lenin could stop them, the November elections took
place. The SR won because of peasant support.
• Lenin used the Red Guard to shut the Duma down.
• To impose total communist control:
– freedom of the press was abolished,
– other political parties were banned; and
– the Cheka was established with wider powers than the Okhrana.
• By the middle of 1918 opposition began to grow
– SR’s and Mensheviks who were unhappy that they
did not share power and they disliked the Treaty.
– Middle classes and Army Officers who were also
unhappy about the treaty and wanted the Tsar
– The British, French US and Japanese Governments
who wanted Russia back in the war and to halt the
spread of Communism.
– Also the former POW’s (Czech Legion) who became
involved and controlled the Trans-Siberian Railway)
• Combined, these became the WHITE Armies.
Trotsky and the Red Army
• With no army and only militias to defend the
revolution, Trotsky was ordered to create a new
• He created the RED ARMY, reintroducing discipline
and including the badges and rank of the old army:
– He used Cheka units to enforce discipline by
– Conscription boosted numbers to 800,000 by
the end of 1918 and 3,000,000 by 1920.
– He used a special train to move from battlefront
to front, encouraging soldiers.
– Each unit had a special commissar appointed to
promote communism and to watch out for
• Luckily the opposition lacked co-ordination or
• With Trotsky’s organisation the Red Army became
stronger and stronger.
• Conscription was
enforced with the taking
of hostages to prevent
• Trotsky got former Tsarist
officers to come into the
Red Army as military
• By its end, 83% of all Red
Army divisional and corps
commanders were ex-
Order of the Revolutionary war council,
24 November 1918, No. 65
‘Every scoundrel who urges anyone to retreat,
desert or not obey an order, will be shot.
Every soldier who throws away his rifle or sells
part of his equipment, will be shot. Houses in
which deserters are found will be burnt down.’
• Trotsky directed the war from a special train, which enabled
him to race from front to front. On board it had
‘…a printing press, a telegraph station, a radio station, an
electric power station, a library, a garage with cars and a
bath… a squad of hand-picked sharp shooters and machine
gunners occupied the trucks.’
Instructions from Cheka leaders
‘Do not demand incriminating evidence to
prove that the prisoner has opposed the Soviet
government by force or words. Your first duty
is to ask him to which class he belongs, what
are his origins, his education, his occupation.
These questions should decide the fate of the
Totsky on Guard
To Horse Proliterian!
• WW1: 3,300,000
• Civil War: 7-10,000,000
• In other words, more the double the amount of people died
in the Russian Civil War than in World War One.
• Both the Whites and the Reds executed a lot of people
• Estimates are that up to 200,000 people were executed
around this time
• At this time there were lots of pogroms taking place –
Communists found it easy to blame Jews just as the Tsars had.
• The Civil War was brutal. Both sides used terror to enforce their beliefs.
• The use of secret police by the Communists was called the Red Terror (late 1918 –
early 1922) and many thousands were killed. The Tsar and his family were
executed by a Cheka detachment in July 1918 because of fears they would be
• Lenin enforced a policy called War Communism, demanding that all parts of
society work towards winning the war.
– All businesses & factories were taken over – the government controlled
– Buying and selling for profit were banned.
– Workers were told where to work.
– Food was strictly rationed in the cities.
– Hyper-inflation made money worthless. People traded goods instead.
– Peasants were forced to sell produce to the State. They were often treated
badly and many killed their stock rather than give them up.
• The Red Army grew more powerful while the White Armies could not agree on a
strategy or co-operate effectively.
• Some nationalities attempted to break free but were brought back by force when
they chose not to form Communist Governments.
• By 1921 peasant rebellions showed the discontent that the measures were
Many orders were passed, such as…
‘All citizens are subject to compulsory labour…
except persons under 16 or over 50, persons
who are disabled by injury or illness, pregnant
women for a period of eight weeks before and
Troops were ordered to take grain by
‘Grain voluntarily surrendered is to be paid for
at a fixed price… hidden grain is subject to
‘every food requisition group is to consist of
not less than 75 men and two or three
Even so, seizing grain was not easy…
‘A small company was sent to a village to
requisition the bread reserves… They were
disarmed by the peasants… Another company
with two machine guns was sent, and they
returned without the machine guns. A third
company was ordered out… the peasants
opened fire and killed six… A fourth and much
better armed force was sent and recaptured
the machine guns (but not the bread).’
Consequences of War Communism
• Not enough food reached the towns and there was strict
rationing. Workers and soldiers received most food, the
middle class and formerly wealthy people got almost nothing.
At times even the workers’ ration was below starvation level.
Many people could keep themselves alive only if they had
something to trade for food on the illegal market (the black
• Thousands of workers and their families left the towns and
fled to the countryside in search of food.
• Fuel was in short supply
• Output of industry fell sharply and inflation went mad –
money was worthless (eg a train journey in Nov 1922 was 4
million times higher than in June 1917).
Lenin & Trotsky in Red Square
• A new intensity to the Cheka’s activities
resulted from the attempt to assassinate
Lenin in August 1918.
• Lenin was seriously wounded. On the
same day, in Petrograd, the Chairman
of the Petrograd Cheka was shot dead.
• The Red Terror lasted from late 1918
until early 1922.
• The Cheka began to attract people with
an intense hatred of capitalists and the
• They were often sadists, people quite
happy to use torture to extract
confessions or information.
• Former officials, landlords and priests
were executed and whole families were
wiped out for no other reason than that
they had once been rich.
The 1921 Crisis
• By 1921 the war was effectively won. The cost was enormous:
– 10 million may have died in the conflict and through
– Industrial output fell to 1/5 of 1913 production
– Hyper-inflation increased prices by 1 million times
– Coal production was down by 2/3
– Sugar production fell by over 95%
– Iron production fell by 95%
– Only 1/3 of trains were still working
– Petrograd’s population fell by 75% as people fled to the
countryside in search of food.
• Opposition grew throughout the country as people
questioned the need for continued harsh policies and noticed
party members were not ‘doing without’.
• Workers called for a return to the 1917 system of free
• The worst famine in a century killed another 5 million people.
• People were so desperate, cannibalism was seen as an option.
• The Communists were forced to accept foreign aid.
War Communism: Starvation
Traders in Human Flesh
) Kronstadt Mutiny
• The most serious revolt against the
Communists was in March 1921 at the naval
base of Kronstadt.
• They took over the base and demanded ‘…
new elections to the Soviets with a secret
vote, freedom of speech and press…
freedom to meet for trade unions and
peasant groups … freedom for peasants to
farm their land.’
• Lenin refused (the Communist Party had to
be in complete control if the revolution was
• When the sailors and workers refused to
surrender, Trotsky ordered the Red Army to
attack – by marching across the frozen sea.
• General Takhachevsky, in command of the attack,
‘The sailors fought like wild beasts… Each house had to be
taken by storm. An entire company fought for an hour to
capture a house, it contained 2 or 3 men at a machine gun.
They seemed half-dead, but they snatched their revolvers and
gasped “too little did we shoot at you scoundrels”.’
• When the Red Army won it showed little mercy:
‘The city ran red with the blood of Kronstadt men, women
and children. For several weeks the Petrograd jails were filled
with hundreds of Kronstadt prisoners. Every night small
groups of them were taken out by the Cheka and
The (2nd) Kronstadt Mutiny
• The Red Army was able to cross the
frozen sea to attack the base.
• When the Red Army won it showed
• 15,000 died.
• This military mutiny, along with the
widespread famine, made Lenin
realise War Communism had to end.
• But how was he to persuade the
peasants to produce more food for
the town workers?
• NEP was his answer.
Trotsky V Stalin - 1924
• Stalin had quietly worked his way to the position of
• Lenin had planned for Trotsky to succeed him, but his
prolonged illness stopped this.
• This gave Stalin the ability to place his own men into
positions of power.
• Although Lenin had written a letter denouncing Stalin,
this was kept secret.
• Upon taking power, Stalin began to undermine his
• Trotsky was expelled from the Party and eventually
• In 1940 Trotsky was assassinated by GPU agents.
Now you see him
Now you don’t
The New Economic Policy 1921-9
• The New Economic Policy (NEP) represented a
major departure from War Communism
• Restrictions were lifted on trading.
• The Market was allowed to operate.
• Profit-making became the main aim of those in
• Taxes were lowered.
• The economy began to approach pre-war levels.
• Recovery was accompanied by the emergence of a
"capitalist" class in both the countryside (the
kulaks) and the towns (NEPmen)
• By 1929 Stalin decided that Collectivisation could
achieve the same without sacrificing socialism.
• The 5 Year Year plans were introduced.
• Stalinism had arrived. 130