Russian Revolution



1914 - 1918

1915 Russian army suffers shortages= defeats=mutinies


(war front 1915): Russian army unprepared so defeats (shortage of rifles, ammunition, clothing, no equipment, morale collapsed=mutinies

1917-1920 Russian Rev/important wartime consequence-working class +peasants rev

1917 - 1920

* not socialist bec the conditions were not present in peasant country, poor backward, ignorant and with a minor industrial proletariat.
* had more profound practical consequences than the French Rev, meant to bring about the world proletariat revolution
* a radical change that led to a diff economic and political system---communist based on Marx and Engels ideas
* ironic be they thought this Rev would occur in a highly industrialized country like Germany not in a feudal-agricultural one.
* it proved to be the savior of liberal capitalism, both by enabling the West to win the Second World War against Hitler's
Germany and by providing the incentive for capitalism to reform itself and, through the Soviet Union's apparent immunity to the Great Depression,the incentive to abandon the belief in free market orthodoxy.
* It occurred at the same time that the Germans resumed unrestricted submarine warfare
* also when the US entered the war
* End of Romanov Monarchy.
* Russia was an agricultural country w/ little industrialization
* Peasant majority (no economic freedom or landownership)
* Growing working class bec of beginnings of industrialization of Russia under bleak conditions similar to England in 1840s
* Minority populations(Poles) nationalist ambition of self rule.
* Minority religions (Jews) hated the regime which persecuted them
* People aspired to individual rights and representative gov as in Europe
* (war front 1915): Russian army unprepared so crushing defeats (inadequate industry to wage war, shortage of rifles, ammunition, clothing, no equipment, lack of food)
* made up of peasants, war weary, resentful, unwilling to fight,deserters (they had left the land which was not being cultivated food unavailable for soldiers and civilians)
* army officers (drawn from the nobility) incompetent: army morale collapsed=mutinies
* (home front): shortage of skilled labor caused by an ill planned mobilization led to shortages of critical supplies (fuel-bitter cold) and chaos in their transportation (not proper transport system wrecked by war) and distribution
* people starved while Czar led a corrupted life
* cost of goods rose dramatically bec the gov printed worthless money to pay for the war.
* food shortages/bread (peasants refused to sell grain for paper money)
* wages fell 20 percent=strikes
* GOVERNMENT AUTOCRACY (one pers gov) corruption (Rasputin:religious mystic close to the czarina, he of German origin suspected of treason, knew how to help the Czar's son who had hemofilia, only son, czarevich disease prevents blood clothing, state secret). He assassinated by aristocrats=criticism
* Czar 4 daughters, wife of German origin queen Victoria's grandaughter suspected the Czar under German influence suspected of treason
* No stable gov.(4 prime ministers dismissed, czar with the army, the Duma expressed outrage at the incompetence and repressiveness of gov)
* Imperial decree ordered conscription of 400, 000 for civilian labor=violent resistance.

February Revolution Precedent of October one March Gregorian

2/1917 - 10/1917

Strikes of workers bec. lack of bread in Petrograd


Demand bread, land peace, better wages, shorter hours
St Petersberg tooo German so Petrograd later Leningrad later St Petersberg

Bread riots + demonstrations (led by women)+lock out


Working class women + industrial lock out (strike of employers) general strike plus invasion of the center of the capital to demand bread.

Nicholas orders amy to fire on crowd/Cossacks mutined+joined demonstrators


150 civilians die. Discontented soldiers of the Petrograd garrison mutined and joined demonstrators

Czar tries to suspend Duma

  • Members of DUMA (legislative body with consultative role did not pass law gave advise only) refused to disband.
  • all was going so badly that conservatives (supported the czar) and liberals (against him) agreed on change (plan for coup)
  • Mutineers (in duma?)elected a COUNCIL (soviet) of SOLDIERS that joined with a SOVIET (or council) of labor deputies led by KERENSKY to set up and alternative gov BIRTH OF: The Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.
  • Petrograd soviets called on soldiers throughout the army to elect their own soviets to take control from imperial officers.

Czar abdicates (for his son too + brother refuses crown)


This was deemed the proclamation of universal freedom equality and democracy (But this revolution was not a bourgeoisie one, not liberal or constitutional nor western oriented willing to fight Germans.

Provisional Government headed by Lvov+Kerensky (conservative phase)


Leaders of the Duma (those against disbanding?) and the Petrograd Soviet and the Zemstva (elective provincial or district council established in most provinces of Russia) assumed power and announced a PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT (created by those who were close to the Czar and had to form a committee to continue running the country bec they were fighting the war) with allies help who feared Russia would step out of the war.
* Does not include the Bolsheviks who were returning from exile and attacking the gov in their newspaper(A member of the left-wing majority group of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party that adopted Lenin's theses on party organization in 1903, that seized power in that country in November 1917.
* won international praise for its democratic program—an amnesty for political crimes, a constitutional assembly elected by universal suffrage, equal rights for minorities, and full civil liberties, recognized the independence
of Poland and Finland, established the eight-hour workday and granted freedom of religion, but the war never allowed it to consolidate a hold on Russian public popularity and it remained a severely divided coalition.
* Remained at war with Germany as desired by GB, France, US.who said theirs was a democratic alliance against autocracy.
* no solution to food shortages
* wanted a constitutional monarchy against soviets desire to do away with it
* wanted a Parliamentary monarchy or a bourgeois republic along the lines of the western republics
* had to coexist with the Soviets who were communists and wanted Russia to be rules by a council (soviet) of workers and soldiers (who had united and were the masses of ppl bec same interests no gov of bourgeoisie)
* they wanted to own the means of prod, distrib and exchange (industries), to end the war and to have land in common (revolution in industry and agriculture)
* war was one of capitalists and imperialists and as communists they had nothing to do with that war

Lenin (from Zurich-Switzerland) urged soviets to withdraw support from the gov.


Lenin myth as organizer of coups-rather intellectual leader. He had been exiled as a revolutionary his brother hanged.
Marx Engels his own interpretation of them, little industry no proletariat to have a dictatorship of the proletariat previous to a classless society.
* Lenin would lead the masses until they were ready and industrialize. Lenin wanted a socialist rev that did not go well so he had a mixed model half socialist half capitalist but then he died.
* He collectivized farming.
* Socialism: social ownership of the means of production, distrib and exchange

Lenin Returns with German help-All Russian Congress of Soviets Gvmt

  • He became the spontaneous Leader chairman but he did not organize the revolt, it was based on his ideas
  • Russia had no proletariat only peasants (illiterate) so he thought that there had to first be a stage in which intellectuals as him had to lead the ppl and teach them the ideology.
  • Germans hoped his politics would weaken Russia (out of the war)to concentrate on western front before the US mobilized to fight (it had already entered the war)
  • HIS PROGRAM April Theses: (1) immediate peace, even at the cost of a harsh German treaty; (2) immediate redistribution of land to the peasants;(3) transfer of political power from the Provisional Government to the soviets; and (4) transfer of the control of factories to committees of workers (peace to the army-land to peasants-agrarian reform collective land ownership-control of factories by workers= communist takeover of industry
  • socialist rev bec the economy would be in the hands of the state private property abolished
    • working class + peasant rev not bourgeois
  • Lenin won the Bolshevik's majority on the Moscow soviet
  • Trotsky head of Petrograd Soviet
  • Bolsheviks had the support of a small minority of Russians so:
  • Lenin and Trotsky formed the RED GUARDS: Military Revolutionary Comitee composed of soldiers from the Petrograd Garrison and Armed workers.
  • It was decided upon and armed insurrection (coup) to seize power in Petrograd
  • Published all secret treaties
  • repudiates Czar's debts
  • withdrew from war with no warning all this Allies could not forget

1917-18 Bolshevik (Communist Party in 1918) October Rev-Taking of Winter Palace-

10/1917 - 1918

COMMUNIST PARTY ONLY ONE TO HOLD RUSSIA TOGETHER AS A STATE thus it had support (state building instrument-rev. regimes in 20th cent adopted variants of it)+ this revolution allowed the peasantry to take land.
* Council of Commisars-Lenin Head
* Trotsky commissar of foreign affairs architect of red army
* Stalin (member of working class and Trotsky's enemy)commissar for the nationalities.
* Issued Lenin's decrees of peace and land
* Cheka: secret police to fight opposition bec the Bolsheviks only had 25% of the vote (similar to czarist secret police and laid the basis for the new regime to become a police state)
* Took Petrograd, Moscow

1918 Treaty of Best Litovsk


Gave up Finland, Baltic States, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine Bessarabia. This treaty was later repudiated when Germany lost.

1918-1920 Civil War Communist Victory

4/1918 - 1920
  • Bec the Bolshevik gov Faced opposition from the rest of the Russian Empire
  • White Army vs Red Army organized by Trotsky.
  • The Allies helped thew counterrevolutionary whites (British, Am, French) that )withdrew bec tired of war with Germany) in 1919 so Reds won

1918 Execution of Nicholas II and flia


When it appeared possible white army might liberate them

1918 Congress of Soviets new Constitution-Red Terror

  • The constitution attempted to create a “dictatorship of the proletariat,”
  • including one-party government
  • restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, and assembly.
  • The government led by a five-man Politburo (council of commissar),
  • police powers of this dictatorship: after a socialistwoman attempted to assassinate Lenin in 1918: Thousands of critics of the regime were killed in a policy called “the red terror,”

1919-1943 Third International (Comintern created by Lenin)

1919 - 1943
  • to link Communist parties in all countries and to support revolutions around the world (world revolution) (associations of national communist parties, organ of soviet control over the international communist movement
  • These events alarmed anticommunist capitals around the world and led to a postwar “Red scare” in many countries.

1922 Union of Soviet Socialist Republics [USSR], or Soviet Union


1924 Lenin dies_Stalin to 1953 takes over-Industrializes Russia by force

1924 - 1953