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Russian Revolution

From the SparkNotes Blog

❶But the Grand Duke realised that he would have little support as ruler, so he declined the crown on 16 March [ O. He said that was indeed the case, but although his mother had such an ethnic background, his father did not, which made him a very rare exception in their political circles.

When Was the Russian Revolution?

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The Aftermath
What Was the Outcome of the Russian Revolution?

In the chaos, members of the Imperial parliament the Duma assumed control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government which was heavily dominated by the interests of large capitalists and the noble aristocracy.

The army leadership felt they did not have the means to suppress the revolution, resulting in Nicholas's abdication. The soviets, which were dominated by soldiers and the urban industrial working class, initially permitted the Provisional Government to rule, but insisted on a prerogative to influence the government and control various militias.

The February Revolution took place in the context of heavy military setbacks during the First World War —18 , which left much of the Russian Army in a state of mutiny. A period of dual power ensued, during which the Provisional Government held state power while the national network of soviets, led by socialists, had the allegiance of the lower classes and, increasingly, the left -leaning urban middle class. During this chaotic period there were frequent mutinies, protests and many strikes.

Many socialist political organizations were engaged in daily struggle and vied for influence within the Duma and the soviets, central among which were the Bolsheviks "Ones of the Majority" led by Vladimir Lenin who campaigned for an immediate end to the war, land to the peasants, and bread to the workers. When the Provisional Government chose to continue fighting the war with Germany, the Bolsheviks and other socialist factions were able to exploit virtually universal disdain towards the war effort as justification to advance the revolution further.

The Bolsheviks turned workers' militias under their control into the Red Guards later the Red Army over which they exerted substantial control. In the October Revolution November in the Gregorian calendar , the Bolsheviks led an armed insurrection by workers and soldiers in Petrograd that successfully overthrew the Provisional Government, transferring all its authority to the soviets with the capital being relocated to Moscow shortly thereafter.

The Bolsheviks had secured a strong base of support within the soviets and, as the now supreme governing party, established a federal government dedicated to reorganizing the former empire into the world's first socialist republic, practicing soviet democracy on a national and international scale. To further secure the new state, the Cheka was established which functioned as a revolutionary security service that sought to weed out and punish those considered to be "enemies of the people" in campaigns consciously modeled on similar events during the French Revolution.

Soon after, civil war erupted among the "Reds" Bolsheviks , the " Whites " counter-revolutionaries , the independence movements and the non-Bolshevik socialists. It continued for several years, during which the Bolsheviks defeated both the Whites and all rival socialists and thereafter reconstituted themselves as the Communist Party. While many notable historical events occurred in Moscow and Petrograd, there was also a visible movement in cities throughout the state, among national minorities throughout the empire and in the rural areas, where peasants took over and redistributed land.

The Russian Revolution of was said to be a major factor contributing to the cause of the Revolutions of The events of Bloody Sunday triggered nationwide protests and soldier mutinies. A council of workers called the St. Petersburg Soviet was created in this chaos. Petersburg Soviet were arrested, this laid the groundwork for the later Petrograd Soviet and other revolutionary movements during the leadup to The Revolution also led to the creation of a Duma parliament , that would later form the Provisional Government following February While the nation was initially caught up in a wave of nationalism, increasing numbers of defeats and poor conditions soon made the opposite true.

The Tsar attempted to remedy the situation by taking personal control of the army in This proved disastrous, as the Tsar was now held personally responsible for Russia's continuing defeats and losses.

In addition, the Tsarina Alexandra , left to rule in while the Tsar was commanding at the front, was German born, leading to suspicion of collusion, only exacerbated by rumors relating to her relationship with the controversial mystic Rasputin. Rasputin's influence led to disastrous ministerial appointments and corruption, resulting in a worsening of conditions within Russia.

This led to general dissatisfaction with the Romanov family, and was a major factor contributing to the retaliation of the Russian Communists against the royal family. After the entry of the Ottoman Empire on the side of the Central Powers in October , Russia was deprived of a major trade route through the Dardanelles, which further contributed to the economic crisis, in which Russia became incapable of providing munitions to their army in the years leading to However, the problems were primarily administrative, and not industrial, as Germany was producing great amounts of munitions whilst constantly fighting on two major battlefronts.

The conditions during the war resulted in devastating loss of morale within the Russian army, as well as the general population. This was particularly apparent in the cities, owing to a lack of food in response to the disruption of agriculture. Food scarcity had become a considerable problem in Russia, but the cause of this did not lie in any failure of the harvests , which had not been significantly altered during wartime.

The indirect reason was that the government, in order to finance the war, had been printing millions of ruble notes, and by inflation had made prices increase up to four times what they had been in Farmers were consequently faced with a higher cost of living, but little increase in income.

As a result, they tended to hoard their grain and to revert to subsistence farming. Thus the cities were constantly short of food. At the same time, rising prices led to demands for higher wages in the factories, and in January and February revolutionary propaganda , in part aided by German funds, led to widespread strikes.

This resulted in a growing criticism of the government, including an increased participation of workers in revolutionary parties. Liberal parties too had an increased platform to voice their complaints, as the initial fervor of the war had resulted in the Tsarist government creating a variety of political organizations.

In July , a Central War Industries Committee was established under the chairmanship of a prominent Octobrist , Alexander Guchkov , including ten workers' representatives. The Petrograd Mensheviks agreed to join despite the objections of their leaders abroad. All this activity gave renewed encouragement to political ambitions, and, in September , a combination of Octobrists and Kadets in the Duma demanded the forming of a responsible government.

The Tsar rejected these proposals. All these factors had given rise to a sharp loss of confidence in the regime, even within the ruling class, growing throughout the war.

Early in , Guchkov discussed with senior army officers and members of the Central War Industries Committee about a possible coup to force the abdication of the Tsar. In December, a small group of nobles assassinated Rasputin , and in January the Tsar's uncle, Grand Duke Nicholas , was asked indirectly by Prince Lvov whether he would be prepared to take over the throne from his nephew, Tsar Nicholas II.

None of these incidents were in themselves the immediate cause of the February Revolution, but they do help to explain why the monarchy survived only a few days after it had broken out.

Meanwhile, Socialist Revolutionary leaders in exile, many of them living in Switzerland , had been the glum spectators of the collapse of international socialist solidarity. French and German Social Democrats had voted in favour of their respective governments' war efforts. Georgi Plekhanov in Paris had adopted a violently anti-German stand, while Parvus supported the German war effort as the best means of ensuring a revolution in Russia.

The Mensheviks largely maintained that Russia had the right to defend herself against Germany, although Martov a prominent Menshevik , now on the left of his group, demanded an end to the war and a settlement on the basis of national self-determination, with no annexations or indemnities.

It was these views of Martov that predominated in a manifesto drawn up by Leon Trotsky at the time a Menshevik at a conference in Zimmerwald , attended by 35 Socialist leaders in September Inevitably Vladimir Lenin , supported by Zinoviev and Radek , strongly contested them.

Their attitudes became known as the Zimmerwald Left. Lenin rejected both the defence of Russia and the cry for peace. Since the autumn of , he had insisted that "from the standpoint of the working class and of the labouring masses from the lesser evil would be the defeat of the Tsarist Monarchy"; the war must be turned into a civil war of the proletarian soldiers against their own governments, and if a proletarian victory should emerge from this in Russia, then their duty would be to wage a revolutionary war for the liberation of the masses throughout Europe.

An elementary theory of property, believed by many peasants, was that land should belong to those who work on it. At the same time, peasant life and culture was changing constantly. Change was facilitated by the physical movement of growing numbers of peasant villagers who migrated to and from industrial and urban environments, but also by the introduction of city culture into the village through material goods, the press, and word of mouth. Workers also had good reasons for discontent: At the same time, urban industrial life was full of benefits, though these could be just as dangerous, from the point of view of social and political stability, as the hardships.

There were many encouragements to expect more from life. Acquiring new skills gave many workers a sense of self-respect and confidence, heightening expectations and desires. Living in cities, workers encountered material goods such as they had never seen in villages. Most important, living in cities, they were exposed to new ideas about the social and political order.

The social causes of the Russian Revolution mainly came from centuries of oppression of the lower classes by the Tsarist regime, and Nicholas's failures in World War I. While rural agrarian peasants had been emancipated from serfdom in , they still resented paying redemption payments to the state, and demanded communal tender of the land they worked.

The problem was further compounded by the failure of Sergei Witte 's land reforms of the early 20th century. Increasing peasant disturbances and sometimes actual revolts occurred, with the goal of securing ownership of the land they worked. Russia consisted mainly of poor farming peasants, with 1.

The rapid industrialization of Russia also resulted in urban overcrowding and poor conditions for urban industrial workers as mentioned above.

Between and , the population of the capital, Saint Petersburg, swelled from 1,, to 1,,, with Moscow experiencing similar growth. This created a new 'proletariat' which, due to being crowded together in the cities, was much more likely to protest and go on strike than the peasantry had been in previous times.

In one survey, it was found that an average of sixteen people shared each apartment in Saint Petersburg, with six people per room. There was also no running water, and piles of human waste were a threat to the health of the workers. The poor conditions only aggravated the situation, with the number of strikes and incidents of public disorder rapidly increasing in the years shortly before World War I.

Because of late industrialization, Russia's workers were highly concentrated. World War I added to the chaos. Conscription swept up the unwilling across Russia.

The vast demand for factory production of war supplies and workers caused many more labor riots and strikes. Conscription stripped skilled workers from the cities, who had to be replaced with unskilled peasants, and then, when famine began to hit due to the poor railway system, workers abandoned the cities in droves seeking food.

Finally, the soldiers themselves, who suffered from a lack of equipment and protection from the elements, began to turn against the Tsar. This was mainly because, as the war progressed, many of the officers who were loyal to the Tsar were killed, and were replaced by discontented conscripts from the major cities, who had little loyalty to the Tsar.

Many sections of the country had reason to be dissatisfied with the existing autocracy. Nicholas II was a deeply conservative ruler and maintained a strict authoritarian system. Individuals and society in general were expected to show self-restraint, devotion to community, deference to the social hierarchy and a sense of duty to the country.

Religious faith helped bind all of these tenets together as a source of comfort and reassurance in the face of difficult conditions and as a means of political authority exercised through the clergy. Perhaps more than any other modern monarch, Nicholas II attached his fate and the future of his dynasty to the notion of the ruler as a saintly and infallible father to his people.

This idealized vision of the Romanov monarchy blinded him to the actual state of his country. With a firm belief that his power to rule was granted by Divine Right , Nicholas assumed that the Russian people were devoted to him with unquestioning loyalty. This ironclad belief rendered Nicholas unwilling to allow the progressive reforms that might have alleviated the suffering of the Russian people.

Even after the revolution spurred the Tsar to decree limited civil rights and democratic representation, he worked to limit even these liberties in order to preserve the ultimate authority of the crown. Despite constant oppression, the desire of the people for democratic participation in government decisions was strong. Since the Age of Enlightenment , Russian intellectuals had promoted Enlightenment ideals such as the dignity of the individual and the rectitude of democratic representation.

These ideals were championed most vociferously by Russia's liberals, although populists, Marxists, and anarchists also claimed to support democratic reforms. A growing opposition movement had begun to challenge the Romanov monarchy openly well before the turmoil of World War I.

Dissatisfaction with Russian autocracy culminated in the huge national upheaval that followed the Bloody Sunday massacre of January , in which hundreds of unarmed protesters were shot by the Tsar's troops.

Workers responded to the massacre with a crippling general strike, forcing Nicholas to put forth the October Manifesto , which established a democratically elected parliament the State Duma. The Tsar undermined this promise of reform but a year later with Article 87 of the Fundamental State Laws , and subsequently dismissed the first two Dumas when they proved uncooperative.

Unfulfilled hopes of democracy fueled revolutionary ideas and violent outbursts targeted at the monarchy. One of the Tsar's principal rationales for risking war in was his desire to restore the prestige that Russia had lost amid the debacles of the Russo-Japanese war.

Nicholas also sought to foster a greater sense of national unity with a war against a common and ancient enemy. The Russian Empire was an agglomeration of diverse ethnicities that had shown significant signs of disunity in the years before the First World War. Nicholas believed in part that the shared peril and tribulation of a foreign war would mitigate the social unrest over the persistent issues of poverty, inequality, and inhuman working conditions. Instead of restoring Russia's political and military standing, World War I led to the horrifying slaughter of Russian troops and military defeats that undermined both the monarchy and society in general to the point of collapse.

The outbreak of war in August initially served to quiet the prevalent social and political protests, focusing hostilities against a common external enemy, but this patriotic unity did not last long.

As the war dragged on inconclusively, war-weariness gradually took its toll. More important, though, was a deeper fragility: Hostility toward the Kaiser and the desire to defend their land and their lives did not necessarily translate into enthusiasm for the Tsar or the government.

Russia's first major battle of the war was a disaster: However, Austro-Hungarian forces allied to Germany were driven back deep into the Galicia region by the end of the year. In the autumn of , Nicholas had taken direct command of the army, personally overseeing Russia's main theatre of war and leaving his ambitious but incapable wife Alexandra in charge of the government.

Reports of corruption and incompetence in the Imperial government began to emerge, and the growing influence of Grigori Rasputin in the Imperial family was widely resented. In the eyes of Michael Lynch, a revisionist historian member of the School of Historical Studies at the University of Leicester who focuses on the role of the people, Rasputin was a "fatal disease" to the Tsarist regime.

In , things took a critical turn for the worse when Germany shifted its focus of attack to the Eastern front. By the end of October , Russia had lost between 1,, and 1,, soldiers, with an additional 2,, prisoners of war and 1,, missing, all making up a total of nearly 5,, men.

These staggering losses played a definite role in the mutinies and revolts that began to occur. In , reports of fraternizing with the enemy started to circulate. Soldiers went hungry, and lacked shoes, munitions, and even weapons. Rampant discontent lowered morale, which was further undermined by a series of military defeats.

Casualty rates were the most vivid sign of this disaster. Already, by the end of , only five months into the war, around , Russian men had lost their lives and nearly 1,, were injured. Far sooner than expected, barely trained recruits had to be called up for active duty, a process repeated throughout the war as staggering losses continued to mount. The officer class also saw remarkable changes, especially within the lower echelons, which were quickly filled with soldiers rising up through the ranks.

These men, usually of peasant or working-class backgrounds, were to play a large role in the politicization of the troops in The huge losses on the battlefields were not limited to men. The army quickly ran short of rifles and ammunition as well as uniforms and food , and, by mid, men were being sent to the front bearing no arms. It was hoped that they could equip themselves with the arms that they recovered from fallen soldiers, of both sides, on the battlefields.

The soldiers did not feel that they were being treated as valuable soldiers, or even as human beings, but rather as raw materials to be squandered for the purposes of the rich and powerful. By the spring of , the army was in steady retreat, which was not always orderly; desertion, plunder and chaotic flight were not uncommon. By , however, the situation had improved in many respects. Russian troops stopped retreating, and there were even some modest successes in the offensives that were staged that year, albeit at great loss of life.

Also, the problem of shortages was largely solved by a major effort to increase domestic production. Nevertheless, by the end of , morale among soldiers was even worse than it had been during the great retreat of The fortunes of war may have improved, but the fact of the war, still draining away strength and lives from the country and its many individuals and families, remained an oppressive inevitability.

The crisis in morale as was argued by Allan Wildman, a leading historian of the Russian army in war and revolution "was rooted fundamentally in the feeling of utter despair that the slaughter would ever end and that anything resembling victory could be achieved. The war devastated not only soldiers. By the end of , there were manifold signs that the economy was breaking down under the heightened strain of wartime demand.

The main problems were food shortages and rising prices. Inflation dragged incomes down at an alarmingly rapid rate, and shortages made it difficult to buy even what one could afford.

These shortages were a problem especially in the capital, St. Petersburg , where distance from supplies and poor transportation networks made matters particularly bad. Shops closed early or entirely for lack of bread, sugar, meat and other provisions, and lines lengthened massively for what remained.

It became increasingly difficult both to afford and actually buy food. Not surprisingly, strikes increased steadily from the middle of , and so did crime; but, for the most part, people suffered and endured, scouring the city for food. Working class women in St. Petersburg reportedly spent about forty hours a week in food lines, begging, turning to prostitution or crime, tearing down wooden fences to keep stoves heated for warmth, grumbling about the rich, and wondering when and how this would all come to an end.

Government officials responsible for public order worried about how long people's patience would last. A report by the St. Petersburg branch of the security police, the Okhrana , in October , warned bluntly of "the possibility in the near future of riots by the lower classes of the empire enraged by the burdens of daily existence. Nicholas was blamed for all of these crises, and what little support he had left began to crumble.

As discontent grew, the State Duma issued a warning to Nicholas in November It stated that, inevitably, a terrible disaster would grip the country unless a constitutional form of government was put in place. Nicholas ignored these warnings and Russia's Tsarist regime collapsed a few months later during the February Revolution of One year later, the Tsar and his entire family were executed. At the beginning of February, Petrograd workers began several strikes and demonstrations.

The next day, a series of meetings and rallies were held for International Women's Day , which gradually turned into economic and political gatherings. Demonstrations were organised to demand bread , and these were supported by the industrial working force who considered them a reason for continuing the strikes.

The women workers marched to nearby factories bringing out over 50, workers on strike. Students, white-collar workers and teachers joined the workers in the streets and at public meetings. To quell the riots, the Tsar looked to the army. At least , troops were available in the capital, but most were either untrained or injured. Historian Ian Beckett suggests around 12, could be regarded as reliable, but even these proved reluctant to move in on the crowd, since it included so many women.

It was for this reason that when, on 11 March [ O. The response of the Duma, urged on by the liberal bloc, was to establish a Temporary Committee to restore law and order; meanwhile, the socialist parties establish the Petrograd Soviet to represent workers and soldiers. The remaining loyal units switched allegiance the next day.

The Tsar directed the royal train back towards Petrograd, which was stopped 14 March [ O. He did so on 15 March [ O. But the Grand Duke realised that he would have little support as ruler, so he declined the crown on 16 March [ O. The immediate effect of the February Revolution was a widespread atmosphere of elation and excitement in Petrograd. The center-left was well represented, and the government was initially chaired by a liberal aristocrat, Prince Georgy Yevgenievich Lvov , a member of the Constitutional Democratic party KD.

The model for the soviet were workers' councils that had been established in scores of Russian cities during the Revolution. In February , striking workers elected deputies to represent them and socialist activists began organizing a citywide council to unite these deputies with representatives of the socialist parties.

On 27 February, socialist Duma deputies, mainly Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, took the lead in organizing a citywide council. The Petrograd Soviet met in the Tauride Palace , the same building where the new government was taking shape. The leaders of the Petrograd Soviet believed that they represented particular classes of the population, not the whole nation.

They also believed Russia was not ready for socialism. So they saw their role as limited to pressuring hesitant "bourgeoisie" to rule and to introduce extensive democratic reforms in Russia the replacement of the monarchy by a republic, guaranteed civil rights, a democratic police and army, abolition of religious and ethnic discrimination, preparation of elections to a constituent assembly, and so on.

The relationship between these two major powers was complex from the beginning and would shape the politics of The representatives of the Provisional Government agreed to "take into account the opinions of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies", though they were also determined to prevent "interference in the actions of the government", which would create "an unacceptable situation of dual power.

Although the Soviet leadership initially refused to participate in the "bourgeois" Provisional Government, Alexander Kerensky , a young and popular lawyer and a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party SRP , agreed to join the new cabinet, and became an increasingly central figure in the government, eventually taking leadership of the Provisional Government.

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Following the revolution and the Second Congress of Soviets, Lenin’s new government, the SPC, faced the overwhelming task of governing a country in chaos. Communication was poor, and large chunks of the country, including the Ukraine, were still occupied by foreign armies.

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And, since the world revolution never did take place, it was the resources from the capitalist west that were badly needed to assist Russian reconstruction. So, the adoption of NEP coincided with an Anglo-Russian trade treaty.

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And since everyone today acknowledges that Schiff had heavily financed the failed Revolution in Russia, it seems perfectly possible that the $20 million figure mentioned by his grandson refers to the total invested over the years supporting all the different Russian revolutionary movements and leaders, which together finally culminated in the establishment of Bolshevik Russia. The other major instrument of Bolshevik power was the secret police, known by the Russian acronym Cheka (for Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counterrevolution and Sabotage).

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The Russian revolution actually included two separate revolutions, both in First, the February Revolution grew out of food riots in the city of Petrograd, now St. Petersburg. When the armed forces were called out to quell the uprising, many of the soldiers defected, forcing Czar Nicholas to abdicate and dissolving the imperial government. Mar 14,  · Russian Revolution and its aftermath. Posted on March 14, by tarbaby. The Jewish Destruction of the Russian Empire. From National Vanguard. This summary of Jewish operations in the Russian Empire is horrifying and entirely consistent with other sources. It makes Adolf’s efforts in the Nazi period look fairly amateurish.