February to October 1917
The Provisional Government
So far… So Russia
1. Russia – an introduction
2. The Crimean War
3. Alexander II – Reform
4. Opponents of Alex II and Alex III
5. Alexander III & Industrialisation
6. Russo-Japanese war 1905
7. Revolution of 1905
8. Nicholas II, Stolypin and Russia on the eve of war
9. World War 1
10. Revolutions of 1917
11. The Russian Civil War / Lenin
12. Rise of Stalin
13. Five Year Plans, Collectivisation and the Great Terror
14. World War Two
15. Last Years of Stalin
To what extent did war
provide a catalyst for
change in Russia between
• These are your
• A poster
provided for the
in March 1917
AIMS OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF RUSSIA
1. Immediate amnesty for all political prisoners, including terrorists.
2. Immediate freedom of speech and assembly and the right to strike.
3. Immediate preparations for a Constituent Assembly for which
everyone could vote.
4. All military units that had joined the revolution could keep their
weapons and not be sent to the frontline.
There were many more – I can’t list them all here!
How do these differ from the autocracy of the Tsar?
• The Provisional Government was dominated first by liberals and later
by a coalition of liberals and moderate socialists
• Interestingly, the Bolsheviks did not join the coalition and thus were
not tainted by the failures of the PG.
• PG – lacked authority or coherent ideology to hold power
• PS – lacked strong power base and not equipped for government
• This period known by many as the ‘Dual Authority.’ -
two governments side by side.
• Petrograd Soviet issued Soviet Order No.1 which stated
that orders issued by the PG only to be obeyed when
they do not contradict with decrees of the PS.
• Soviet Order No.1 –
– all military units had to elect members to the Soviet
– all weapons to be controlled by the military committees (not
given to officers)
• Soviets were elected all over Russia
• Crucially (possibly suicidally) the PG aimed to continue
war with Central Powers
• Threat of opposition from political
groups or military
• Problems facing Russia, e.g.
War, economy, social unrest
• Dual authority
• Unelected – lacked legitimacy
PROBLEMS FACING THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT
Lack of authority
• Not elected and delayed elections due to not having proper electoral
• The Soviets were more representative of the people.
• Peasants expected land to transfer to them. PG said only Constituent
Assembly could change land policy
• Inflation shot up and wages could not keep pace – extreme poverty in
• PG granted 8 hour day and restored factory discipline in hope of
World War I
• Petrograd Soviet wanted to defend Russia but not make further attacks
• Provisional Government aimed to continue for a ‘decisive victory’.
• Protests and demonstrations from soldiers forced Guchkov, Minister
for War to resign and be replaced by Alexander Kerensky.
• Set up a ‘coalition government’ which included members of the
PG – Problem solver?
‘Wait until the
Constituent Assembly for
land. Wait until the end
of the war for the
Wait until total victory
for the end of the war.’
What is Lenin’s opinion
of the new Provisional
Government and its
Bolsheviks in 1917
• In February no one imagined the Bolsheviks taking
power 8 months later.
• Bolsheviks did not recognise Feb Rev as a real
revolution – the workers were not yet in charge.
• 3 April 1917 – Lenin returned to Petrograd and issued
his famous April Theses
– Bolsheviks should reject any co-operation with the PG
– ‘All Power to the Soviets’ – the soviets should form a
– End to the ‘imperialist’ war.
‘Peace, Bread, Land’
• Bolshevik influence in the soviets and factories grew in
• 33% of the vote within the Petrograd Soviet
• Appealed to the peasants by offering land.
• Support for the PG was falling rapidly
– continuing war / unemployment etc.
• Soviets were ignoring the ‘authority’ of
• War Minister, Kerensky, believed a
successful war would stop Russia
• Est. 170,000 had deserted by this
• In June 1917 - launched an offensive
against Austria – lost estimated
• Even more mutinied and deserted the
• Mass demonstrations begin on July 3rd 1917
• Workers joined on the streets by sailors and soldiers.
• It is possible the Bolsheviks were behind the protests
• Protestors chanted Bolshevik slogans – Lenin was
not a visible presence.
• 5 July – loyal government troops cleared streets
• 700 killed or wounded.
• Bolshevik newspapers banned and party leaders
imprisoned – Lenin fled to Finland thinking
revolution was impossible.
• PG - branded Bolsheviks as traitors and German
• Kerensky took over as PM in hope to restore order.
• The new Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General
Kornilov wanted decisive action against mutinous
troops and opposition groups.
• Kornilov did not believe Kerensky and the PG was
• Ordered his troops to march on Petrograd
• Kerensky armed the workers of Petrograd and
released many Bolsheviks from prison to stop
• Railway workers refused to move Kornilov’s troops
• Kornilov gave himself up.
• Kornilov Coup proved that Kerensky could not
command support of the army – needed
Bolsheviks (enemies of the PG) on his side.
• Played into the Bolsheviks hands.
• Workers turned to the one party who had never co-
operated with the weak and ineffective Provisional
• Land of the Tsars or Russian Revolution in
• Note down reasons for the Revolutions in
• Complete the A3 sheet looking at Feb to
• October Revolution by Graham Darby
• Make notes and highlight quotes that suggests that;
• ‘The October Revolution in 1917was brought about
by the failings of the Provisional Government’
• Remember we are looking for examples of change in
history. In this case, was change brought about by
A wounded Russian soldier retreats
from the frontline