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.
Although the Tsar accepted the Fundamental State Laws one year later, he 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 old enemy.
The Russian Empire was an agglomeration of diverse ethnicities that had demonstrated 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 inhumane working conditions. Instead of restoring Russia's political and military standing, World War I led to the slaughter of Russian troops and military defeats that undermined both the monarchy and Russian society 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. Although many ordinary Russians joined anti-German demonstrations in the first few weeks of the war, 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; in the Battle of Tannenberg , over 30, Russian troops were killed or wounded and 90, captured, while Germany suffered just 12, casualties. 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 , 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 began to circulate. Soldiers went hungry, 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. 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, inadequately trained recruits were called 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 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 arms recovered from fallen soldiers, of both sides, on the battlefields. The soldiers did not feel as if they were valuable, rather they felt as if they were expendable. By the spring of , the army was in steady retreat, which was not always orderly; desertion, plundering, 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 war remained which continually took Russian lives.
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 did not only devastate 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 for an individual to sustain oneself.
These shortages were a problem especially in the capital, St. Petersburg , where distance from supplies and poor transportation networks made matters particularly worse. Shops closed early or entirely for lack of bread, sugar, meat, and other provisions, and lines lengthened massively for what remained. Conditions became increasingly difficult to afford food and physically obtain it.
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, and continued to resent the rich. 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. Tsar 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 , stating 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.
The Centenary of the Russian Revolution | Marx Memorial Library
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 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 established 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 on 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 Soviets 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. They viewed 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, 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.
As minister of war and later Prime Minister, Kerensky promoted freedom of speech, released thousands of political prisoners, continued the war effort, even organizing another offensive which, however, was no more successful than its predecessors. Nevertheless, Kerensky still faced several great challenges, highlighted by the soldiers, urban workers, and peasants, who claimed that they had gained nothing by the revolution:. The political group that proved most troublesome for Kerensky, and would eventually overthrow him, was the Bolshevik Party, led by Vladimir Lenin.
Lenin had been living in exile in neutral Switzerland and, due to democratization of politics after the February Revolution, which legalized formerly banned political parties, he perceived the opportunity for his Marxist revolution. Although return to Russia had become a possibility, the war made it logistically difficult. Lenin and his associates, however, had to agree to travel to Russia in a sealed train: Germany would not take the chance that he would foment revolution in Germany.
After passing through the front, he arrived in Petrograd in April These included that the Soviets take power as seen in the slogan "all power to the Soviets" and denouncing the liberals and social revolutionaries in the Provisional Government, forbidding co-operation with it. With Lenin's arrival, the popularity of the Bolsheviks increased steadily.
Over the course of the spring, public dissatisfaction with the Provisional Government and the war, in particular among workers, soldiers and peasants, pushed these groups to radical parties. Despite growing support for the Bolsheviks, buoyed by maxims that called most famously for "all power to the Soviets", the party held very little real power in the moderate-dominated Petrograd Soviet.
In fact, historians such as Sheila Fitzpatrick have asserted that Lenin's exhortations for the Soviet Council to take power were intended to arouse indignation both with the Provisional Government, whose policies were viewed as conservative, and the Soviets themselves, which were viewed as subservients to the conservative government. By some other historians' accounts, Lenin and his followers were unprepared for how their groundswell of support, especially among influential worker and soldier groups, would translate into real power in the summer of On 18 June, the Provisional Government launched an attack against Germany that failed miserably.
Soon after, the government ordered soldiers to go to the front, reneging on a promise. The soldiers refused to follow the new orders. Sailors and soldiers, along with Petrograd workers, took to the streets in violent protest, calling for "all power to the Soviets". The revolt, however, was disowned by Lenin and the Bolshevik leaders and dissipated within a few days. The July Days confirmed the popularity of the anti-war, radical Bolsheviks, but their unpreparedness at the moment of revolt was an embarrassing gaffe that lost them support among their main constituent groups: soldiers and workers.
The Bolshevik failure in the July Days proved temporary. The Bolsheviks had undergone a spectacular growth in membership. Whereas, in February , the Bolsheviks were limited to only 24, members, by September there were , members of the Bolshevik faction. Petersburg and Moscow behind the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries, by September the Bolsheviks were in the majority in both cities. In August, poor and misleading communication led General Lavr Kornilov , the recently appointed Supreme Commander of Russian military forces, to believe that the Petrograd government had already been captured by radicals, or was in serious danger thereof.
To secure his position, Kerensky had to ask for Bolshevik assistance. He also sought help from the Petrograd Soviet, which called upon armed Red Guards to "defend the revolution". The Kornilov Affair failed largely due to the efforts of the Bolsheviks, whose influence over railroad and telegraph workers proved vital in stopping the movement of troops.
With his coup failing, Kornilov surrendered and was relieved of his position. The Bolsheviks' role in stopping the attempted coup further strengthened their position. Growing numbers of socialists and lower-class Russians viewed the government less as a force in support of their needs and interests. The Bolsheviks benefited as the only major organized opposition party that had refused to compromise with the Provisional Government, and they benefited from growing frustration and even disgust with other parties, such as the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, who stubbornly refused to break with the idea of national unity across all classes.
In Finland, Lenin had worked on his book State and Revolution and continued to lead his party, writing newspaper articles and policy decrees. Petersburg , aware that the increasingly radical city presented him no legal danger and a second opportunity for revolution. Recognising the strength of the Bolsheviks, Lenin began pressing for the immediate overthrow of the Kerensky government by the Bolsheviks.
Lenin was of the opinion that taking power should occur in both St. Petersburg and Moscow simultaneously, parenthetically stating that it made no difference which city rose up first, but expressing his opinion that Moscow may well rise up first. The resolution was passed 10—2 Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev prominently dissenting promoting the October Revolution. The October Revolution, night to Wednesday 7 November according to the modern Gregorian calendar and night to Wednesday 25 October according to the Julian calendar at the time in tsarist Russia, was organized by the Bolshevik party.
Lenin did not have any direct role in the revolution and due to his personal security he was hiding. The Revolutionary Military Committee established by the Bolshevik party was organizing the insurrection and Leon Trotsky was the chairman. However, Lenin played a crucial role in the debate in the leadership of the Bolshevik party for a revolutionary insurrection as the party in the autumn of received a majority in the soviets.
An ally in the left fraction of the Revolutionary-Socialist Party , with huge support among the peasants who opposed Russia's participation in the war, supported the slogan 'All power to the Soviets'. Liberal and monarchist forces, loosely organized into the White Army , immediately went to war against the Bolsheviks' Red Army , in a series of battles that would become known as the Russian Civil War.
This did not happen in The Civil War began in early with domestic anti-Bolshevik forces confronting the nascent Red Army. In autumn of allied countries chose to send troops to support the "Whites" with supplies of weapons, ammunition and logistic equipment being sent from the main Western countries but this was not at all coordinated. Germany did not participate in the civil war as it surrendered to the Allied. Source: . Of more interests is the anarchist movement of Nestor Makhno in Ukraine who fought against the White generals, saved Moscow in from an attack by the general Denikin and in November helped the Bolshevik to defeat general Wrangel.
However, 26 November the Bolshevik government invited headquarters staff and many of Makhno's subordinate commanders to a Red Army planning conference in Moscow only to have them imprisoned and executed. At that time was there already a decision to eliminate the Makhno movement. Nestor Makno escaped the hunt by the Red Army and in August he and 77 of his followers managed to escape into Romania and further to Poland, Germany to reach France where Makno died in 25 July The provisional government with its second and third coalition was led by a right wing fraction of the Socialist-Revolutionary party, SR.
This non-elected provisional government faced the revolutionary situation and the growing mood against the war by avoiding elections to the state Duma. However, the October revolution forced the political parties behind the newly dissolved provisional government to move and move fast for immediate elections.
All happened so fast that the left SR fraction did not have time to reach out and be represented in ballots of the SR party which was part of the coalition in the provisional government. This non-elected government supported continuation of the war on the side of the allied forces. The elections to the State Duma 25 November therefore did not mirror the true political situation among peasants even if we don't know how the outcome would be if the anti-war left SR fraction had a fair chance to challenge the party leaders. Lenin did not believe as Karl Marx that a socialist revolution presupposed a developed capitalist economy and not in a semi-capitalist country as Russia.
Though Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik Party, it has been argued that since Lenin was not present during the actual takeover of the Winter Palace, it was really Trotsky's organization and direction that led the revolution, merely spurred by the motivation Lenin instigated within his party. Soviet membership was initially freely elected, but many members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party , anarchists, and other leftists created opposition to the Bolsheviks through the Soviets themselves.
The elections to the Russian Constituent Assembly took place 25 November The most notable instances of this anti-Bolshevik mentality were expressed in the Tambov rebellion , —, and the Kronstadt rebellion in March These movements, which made a wide range of demands and lacked effective coordination, were eventually defeated along with the White Army during the Civil War. The Russian Civil War, which broke out in shortly after the October Revolution, resulted in the deaths and suffering of millions of people regardless of their political orientation.
Though the Allied nations, using external interference, provided substantial military aid to the loosely knit anti-Bolshevik forces, they were ultimately defeated. The Bolsheviks firstly assumed power in Petrograd, expanding their rule outwards. They eventually reached the Easterly Siberian Russian coast in Vladivostok , four years after the war began, an occupation that is believed to have ended all significant military campaigns in the nation.
Less than one year later, the last area controlled by the White Army, the Ayano-Maysky District , directly to the north of the Krai containing Vladivostok, was given up when General Anatoly Pepelyayev capitulated in Several revolts were initiated against the Bolsheviks and their army near the end of the war, notably the Kronstadt Rebellion. This was a naval mutiny engineered by Soviet Baltic sailors, former Red Army soldiers, and the people of Kronstadt. This armed uprising was fought against the antagonizing Bolshevik economic policies that farmers were subjected to, including seizures of grain crops by the Communists.
When delegates representing the Kronstadt sailors arrived at Petrograd for negotiations, they raised 15 demands primarily pertaining to the Russian right to freedom. The Government then responded with an armed suppression of these revolts and suffered ten thousand casualties before entering the city of Kronstadt. During the Civil War, Nestor Makhno led a Ukrainian anarchist movement, the Black Army allied to the Bolsheviks thrice, one of the powers ending the alliance each time.
However, a Bolshevik force under Mikhail Frunze destroyed the Makhnovist movement, when the Makhnovists refused to merge into the Red Army. In addition, the so-called " Green Army " peasants defending their property against the opposing forces played a secondary role in the war, mainly in the Ukraine. Revolutionary tribunals were present during both the Revolution and the Civil War, intended for the purpose of combatting forces of counter-revolution.
The information revolution and some issues in communication geography
At the Civil War's zenith, it is reported that upwards of , cases were investigated by approximately tribunals. However, these tribunals did come with their own set of inefficiencies, such as responding to cases in a matter of months and not having a concrete definition of "counter-revolution" that was determined on a case-by-case basis. This, in part, triggered the political transition of the October Revolution and the Civil War that followed in its aftermath. The Bolsheviks executed the tsar and his family on 16 July In August the Kerensky government evacuated the Romanovs to Tobolsk in the Urals , to protect them from the rising tide of revolution.
However, Kerensky lost control after the Bolsheviks came to power in October , and the conditions of their imprisonment grew stricter and talk of putting Nicholas on trial increased. As the counter revolutionary White movement gathered force, leading to full-scale civil war by the summer, the Romanovs were moved during April and May to Yekaterinburg , a militant Bolshevik stronghold.
During the early morning of 16 July, Nicholas, Alexandra, their children, their physician, and several servants were taken into the basement and shot. That the order came from the top has long been believed, although there is a lack of hard evidence. The execution may have been carried out on the initiative of local Bolshevik officials, or it may have been an option pre-approved in Moscow should White troops approach Yekaterinburg.
Radzinsky noted that Lenin's bodyguard personally delivered the telegram ordering the execution and that he was ordered to destroy the evidence. The Russian Revolution became the site for many instances of symbolism , both physical and non-physical. Communist symbolism is perhaps the most notable of this time period, such as the debut of the iconic hammer and sickle as a representation of the October Revolution in , eventually becoming the official symbol of the USSR in Although the Bolsheviks did not have extensive political experience, their portrayal of the revolution itself as both a political and symbolic order resulted in Communism's portrayal as a messianic faith, formally known as communist messianism.
The revolution ultimately led to the establishment of the future Soviet Union as an ideocracy ; however, the establishment of such a state came as an ideological paradox , as Marx's ideals of how a socialist state ought to be created were based on the formation being natural and not artificially incited i. A revolutionary wave caused by the Russian Revolution lasted until , but despite initial hopes for success in the German Revolution of —19 , the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic , and others like it, no other Marxist movement at the time succeeded in keeping power in its hands.
This issue is subject to conflicting views on communist history by various Marxist groups and parties. Joseph Stalin later rejected this idea, stating that socialism was possible in one country. Marx had envisioned European revolutions to be intertwined with Asian revolutions in the midth century with his New York Tribune article, "Revolution in China and Europe," in which he references the Chinese as people in "revolutionary convulsion," brought about by British economic control. China's current leaders retain that Mao "developed the theory of revolutionary socialism" whilst reformer Deng Xiopeng "developed the theory of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Cuba experienced its own communist revolution as well, known as the Cuban Revolution , which began in July under the leadership of revolutionary Fidel Castro. During the Second World War , the French and Japanese fascists in Indochina now known as Southeast Asia began to experience significant resistance to their colonial rule. Due to the fact that both France and Japan were engaged in World War II, the Vietnamese people realized an opportunity to engage in an uprising, resulting in the bloody August Insurrection, ending colonial rule in Vietnam.
One interpretation of the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War is "America had lost a guerrilla war in Asia, a loss of caused by failure to appreciate the nuances of counterinsurgency war. Few events in historical research have been as conditioned by political influences as the October Revolution. The historiography of the Revolution generally divides into three camps: the Soviet-Marxist view, the Western-Totalitarian view, and the Revisionist view.
A Lenin biographer, Robert Service , states he "laid the foundations of dictatorship and lawlessness. Lenin had consolidated the principle of state penetration of the whole society, its economy and its culture. Lenin had practised terror and advocated revolutionary amoralism. Dates are correct for the Julian calendar , which was used in Russia until It was 12 days behind the Gregorian calendar during the 19th century and thirteen days behind it during the 20th century.
George Orwell 's classic novella Animal Farm is an allegory of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath. It describes the dictator Stalin as a big Berkshire boar named, "Napoleon. However, Napoleon overthrows Snowball as Stalin overthrew Trotsky and Napoleon takes over the farm the animals live on. Napoleon becomes a tyrant and uses force and propaganda to oppress the animals, while culturally teaching them that they are free. The Russian Revolution has been portrayed in or served as backdrop for many films. Among them, in order of release date:.
The Russian Revolution has been used as a direct backdrop for select video games. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the revolution that began in For the revolution of , see Russian Revolution. Russian Revolution. Main article: History of Russia — Main article: February Revolution. Main article: October Revolution. Main article: Shooting of the Romanov family. Main article: Revolutions of — Socialism portal Communism portal Russia portal Soviet Union portal. Major recent works that examine themes discussed above and can serve as a guide to older scholarship Christine Worobec, Peasant Russia: Family and Community in the Post Emancipation Period Princeton, ; Frank and Steinberg, eds.
Petersburg and Moscow, — Berkeley, Food and fuel shortages plagued Russia as inflation mounted. The economy was hopelessly disrupted by the costly war effort. Czar Nicholas left the Russian capital of Petrograd St. Petersburg in to take command of the Russian Army front. During this time, her controversial advisor, Grigory Rasputin , increased his influence over Russian politics and the royal Romanov family. By then, most Russians had lost faith in the failed leadership of the czar. Government corruption was rampant, the Russian economy remained backward and Nicholas repeatedly dissolved the Duma, the toothless Russian parliament established after the revolution, when it opposed his will.
Demonstrators clamoring for bread took to the streets of Petrograd. Supported by huge crowds of striking industrial workers, the protesters clashed with police but refused to leave the streets. On March 11, the troops of the Petrograd army garrison were called out to quell the uprising. In some encounters, the regiments opened fire, killing demonstrators, but the protesters kept to the streets and the troops began to waver.
The Duma formed a provisional government on March A few days later, Czar Nicholas abdicated the throne, ending centuries of Russian Romanov rule. The leaders of the provisional government, including young Russian lawyer Alexander Kerensky, established a liberal program of rights such as freedom of speech, equality before the law, and the right of unions to organize and strike. They opposed violent social revolution. As minister of war, Kerensky continued the Russian war effort, even though Russian involvement in World War I was enormously unpopular. Unrest continued to grow as peasants looted farms and food riots erupted in the cities.
Lenin instead called for a Soviet government that would be ruled directly by councils of soldiers, peasants and workers.
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The Bolsheviks and their allies occupied government buildings and other strategic locations in Petrograd, and soon formed a new government with Lenin as its head. Civil War broke out in Russia in late after the Bolshevik Revolution. The warring factions included the Red and White Armies. The White Army represented a large group of loosely allied forces, including monarchists, capitalists and supporters of democratic socialism. The Russian Revolutions of Anna M.
Cienciala, University of Kansas. The Russian Revolution of Daniel J. Meissner, Marquette University. Russian Revolution of McGill University. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present.
When Was the Russian Revolution?
After overthrowing the centuries-old Romanov monarchy, Russia emerged from a civil war in as the newly formed Soviet Union. The Romanov family was the last imperial dynasty to rule Russia. During the Russian Revolution Believing that current Communist leaders were taking the party, and China itself, in the wrong direction, Mao called