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The Russian Revolution
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The Russian Revolution


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  • 1. The Russian Revolution 
  • 2. Pre-Revolutionary Russia  Russia had become the only true autocracy left in Europe.  Russia had no representative political institutions.  Nicholas II Romanov became czar in 1884; he believed in the autocracy.
  • 3. Russo-Japanese War (1904)  Russia’s defeat led to political instability at home.
  • 4. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, alias Lenin  Gravitated toward the Social Democratic Workers Party— later would become known as the Reds—the Bolsheviks.  Believed in the necessity of a revolutionary vanguard of highly trained professional revolutionaries.  Adopted the concept of dialectical materialism-- modernization/capitalism to catch up with the industrial West.
  • 5. The Revolution of 1905  Was partially the result of the rapid growth of discontented working class in Russia.  The vast majority of urban workers were concentrated in St. Petersburg and Moscow.  They received little help from the countryside: impoverished peasants.
  • 6. Bloody Sunday
  • 7. Repression Continues: 1905-1917  Nicholas paid no attention to the Duma; political parties were suppressed – only token land reform was undertaken.  Nicholas was personally a very weak man; he became increasingly remote as a ruler.  Numerous workers’ organization— soviets-- began to appear to press for change.
  • 8. Alexandra: The Power Behind the Throne  Even more blindly committed to autocracy than her husband.  She was under the influence of Rasputin—believing that he could save her hemophiliac son.  Scandals surrounding Rasputin served to discredit the monarchy.
  • 9. Crown Prince Alexey
  • 10. World War I: The Last Straw  The War revealed the ineptitude and arrogance of the country’s aristocratic elite.  Corrupt military leadership had contempt for the ordinary Russian soldier.  Average peasants had very little invested in the War.
  • 11. The First World War  Russia was not prepared for an industrial war: it’s soldiers were ill-trained and poorly equipped, officers ineffective.  The result were defeats on the battlefield, mass desertions, and 2 million casualties by 1915.  The inevitable result: chaos and the disintegration of the Russian Army.
  • 12. The Collapse of the Imperial Government  Nicholas left for the Front in September, 1915.  Alexandra and Rasputin threw the government into chaos back at home.  Alexandra and other high government officials were accused of treason.
  • 13. The Collapse of the Imperial Government  Rasputin was assassinated in December of 1916.  The government had completely mismanagement the wartime economy--industrial production plummeted, inflation and food shortages were rampant, and the cities were overflowing with refugees.  The urban areas became a hotbed for political activism-- ignited by serious food shortages in March, 1917.
  • 14. The Two Revolutions of 1917  The March Revolution (March 12)  The November Revolution (November 6)
  • 15. The March Revolution  Origins: Food riots/workers’ strikes.  The Duma declared itself a Provisional Government on March 12.  Nicholas ordered soldiers to intervene; instead they joined the rebellion.  The Czar abdicated on March 17.  Alexander Kerensky headed the Provisional Government.
  • 16. The Kornilov Affair  General Kornilov attempted to overthrow the Provisional Government with a military takeover.  To combat the coup, Kerensky freed many Bolshevik leaders from prison and supplied arms to many revolutionary groups.
  • 17. The Petrograd Soviet  Workers in St. Petersburg formed the Petrograd Soviet, which they claimed to be the legitimate government.  Germany was aware of the situation in Russia and began to concentrate on the Western Front.  Germany even played a role in returning Lenin to Russia, in April, 1917.
  • 18. Soviet Political Ideology  More radical and revolutionary than the Provisional Government.  Influenced by Marxian Scientific Socialism.  Two Factions: -- the Whites--Mensheviks -- The Reds: Bolsheviks.
  • 19. Founder of Bolshevism: Vladimir Lenin  Had been exiled to Siberia in 1897.  Committed to Class Struggle and Revolution.  Moved to London in 1902 and befriended Leon Trotsky.  Wrote What is to be Done? – A professional vanguard is required to lead the revolution from above. – This split the Russian socialists into in two factions..
  • 20. Lenin Steps into The Vacuum  Amnesty granted to all political prisoners in March of 1917.  Lenin’s arrival in Petrograd--a tremendously charismatic personality.  Peace, Land, Bread  All Power to the Soviets  The war was a capitalist/imperialist enterprise that offered no rewards for the peasants or workers; he also felt the war was over with the czar’s abdication.  Bolshevik party membership exploded; they moved to consolidate their power.
  • 21. Lenin Steps into The Vacuum  Lenin formed the Military- Revolutionary Council.  In May 1917, he urged the Petrograd Soviet to issue Army Order # 1: gave control of the army to committees elected by the common soldiers.
  • 22. The November Revolution  Nov. 6, 1917.  The coup itself was planned by Leon Trotsky, who gained the confidence of the army--the Red Miracle.  In Jan. 1918 Lenin disbanded the Constituent Assembly, terminating Russian democracy.  The Council of People’s Commissars was created.  All private property was abolished—to be divided among the peasantry.  The largest industrial enterprises were nationalized.
  • 23. The November Revolution  A political police was organized: the CHEKA.  A revolutionary army created with Trotsky in charge—the Red Army.  The Bolshevik Party renamed the Communist Party in March, 1918.
  • 24. The November Revolution  Lenin’s first task was to get Russia out of the war so he could concentrate on internal reform.  The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was negotiated with the Germans, giving them much Russian territory, population, and resources.
  • 25. The Civil War  Civil War followed, 1917-1920 Reds vs. Whites  Complete breakdown of Russian economy and society.  The officers of the old army (the Whites) organized opposition to the Bolsheviks (the Reds).
  • 26. Victory For the Reds  The Bolshevik victory was due to a number of factors: -Unity -A better army -A well-defined political program -mobilization of the home front -An effective secret police force (the Cheka) -An appeal to nationalism
  • 27. Victory For the Reds  World War I brought the conditions that led to the Russian Revolution and a radically new government based on socialism and one-party dictatorship.
  • 28. Interpreting the Russian Revolution  The official Marxist interpretation: the importance of a continuing permanent international revolution.  Function of Russian History and Culture.  Dictatorship of the Proletariat: an imposed revolution on an unwilling country.  A Social Revolution.
  • 29. The Soviet Politburo 1917