The Russian Revolution, c. 1910 – 1924, Sources Question
1) This question is about Russia before 1914. Look carefully at sources (A) to (F) and then answer questions (a) to (d) below.
a) Study source A.
What can you learn from source A about the situation in Russia before 1914?
From source A we can learn that the situation in Russia before 1914 was very alarming. Strikes went up from 2000 in 1912 to 4000 in 1914. Some strikers demanded trade union rights and more and more people were becoming involved with fights with the government. 270 miners were shot dead during the strikes in Lena goldfields.
b) Study sources A, B and C.
i) Does source C support the evidence of sources A and B about the situation in Russia before 1914? Explain your answer.
Source C supports the evidence of source A by saying that there was an increase of tension. This is shown in source a by the increasing amount of strikes and the fact that many people had been shot during the Lena goldfield massacre. Source C also supports source A because it shows that more and more people were involved in fights with the government, as source C says, ‘People can be heard speaking of the government in the sharpest of tones.’ Source C supports the evidence of source B because the number of strikes and strikers in factories increased during 1910 and 1914, again, as source C says, ‘People can be heard speaking of the government in the sharpest of tones.’
ii) Why were there many strikers in Russia in the years 1910-1914? Use sources A, B and C, and your own knowledge, to explain your answer.
There were there many strikers in Russia in the years 1910-1914 because people were firstly becoming less scared of the Okhrana, so they were not very afraid to voice their opinion. A lot of people may not have liked how the government was running Russia; the only way they would be heard would have been through a strike. More people were also coming together, as most of them worked in horrible working conditions, with very little pay, long hours and a disturbing working environment, they must have decided to go on strike. Sales of vodka, food and fuel dropped drastically, this may have also cased many strikes as many people would have needed the money from these sales. Also, from source B we see that in 1910 the number of strikers in factories was 222, in 1914 the number of strikers in factories was 3534. The increase in strikers in factories from 1910 to 1914 may have been caused by the increased size of the factories. The factories must have employed more people thought 1910 and 1914, so the number of strikers must obviously increase.
C) Study sources D and E.
How useful are sources D and E as evidence of support for the Russian monarchy?
Source D shows that the ordinary people of Russia supported the Tsar wherever he went, although the public may have been doing this so the Tsar and his people will not give them a hard time, it was dangerous for the public to express their true feelings. The support shown was only a small percentage of the population, it was emotional support. The country saw the monarchy as a religion, so they have always been told to worship it. Source D is a reliable source because firstly the writer is the Tsar’s sister, she was an eyewitness. Secondly, she was writing in her private diary, there would be no reason for her to lie or exaggerate anything. Also, she would have written about these events a night (after they had happened) and so she may have only been picking out the good bits and forgetting the bad bits.
Source E is useful in showing support for the Russian monarchy. It shows that faith in the government is decreasing and that a revolution is becoming more likely. The writer of this source, Alexander Guchkov was the leader of the Octobrists, a party basically loyal to the Tsar and his government. If the leader of a loyal party to the Tsar and his government saw and said that faith in the government was decreasing and revolution was very likely, then it would have been true. Source E’s writer, Alexander Guchkov is a more objective person than the writer of source D, the Tsar’s sister who was sheltered in Russian courts and biased in the Tsar’s favor.
d) Study all the sources.
‘There was widespread support in Russia for the Tsar before 1914.’
Use the sources, and your own knowledge, to explain whether you agree with this view.
Sources A and B show that there was an increase in strikes and strikes in factories during 1910 to 1914. However, it gives a limited answer to the statement above as it mainly looks at the industrial sector.
Sources C and E show that even a reporter of the Okhrana and a leader of the Octobrists (both loyal parties to the Tsar) think that the support for the Tsar is decreasing. This makes a revolution more and more likely.
Sources D and F show that many people came out to see the Tsar, however, they may have done this out of curiosity as the Tsar would have been something to see, not because they supported the Tsar. They also may have come out to see the Tsar because they were scared that if they did not come out to see and appear to be supporting the Tsar, they might get into trouble with the government. Sometimes people feel loyalty to the institution, but the may not like how the government was running the country, a lot of people would have been in this possession during this time.
I do not think there was widespread support in Russia for the Tsar before 1914. This is because as sources D and F shows that the ordinary people of Russia appeared supported the Tsar wherever he went, although I think that the public may have been doing this so the Tsar and his people will not give them a hard time, I believe that it was dangerous for the public to express their true feelings. Sources D and E also only a small percentage of the population of Russia, it cannot be mistaken for the majority of the Russian population.
The Tsar also failed to face the peasants, poverty and workers. As the 3 categories were fitted by most of Russia’s population, the Tsar was not very popular. The Tsar mainly supported the rich landowning class that was a very small percentage of the Russian population who did not need the Tsar very much. The people who needed the Tsar were the poor peasants with large hungry families (most of the Russian population), however the Tsar did not help them. This made a lot of people not to want to support the Tsar as he did not help the people in need. The Tsar was a autocratic ruler, this meant that he had complete and absolute power of Russia. A lot of people would not have liked this so the would not have really supported the Tsar.
Was the Provisional Government Doomed from the Beginning? a Russian Revolution
After the February revolution on 1917 which saw the abdication of the Tsar, Russia was in turmoil. It had gone (in a matter of days) from being one of the most repressed countries in the world to being totally free with nobody in any real position of power or authority, and this was a massive change for the population of Russia. As a result of this confusion two bodies were set up to temporarily control Russia until a constituent Assembly could be elected. These two bodies were the Provisional government, (made up of leading Liberal parties, and Kadets), and the Petrograd Soviets (made up of workers, soldiers, socialist revolutionaries, and had both Menshevik and Bolshevik members. However this reign did not last long as in October of the same year the Bolsheviks seized the Tauride Palace overthrowing the Provisional government (PG) in the name of the Petrograd Soviet. There are many reasons to why the PG did not manage to consolidate its power; primarily there were a lot of internal problems that gave them a big disadvantage. However there were also external pressures from the peasants, workers and the war that the PG could simply not cope with. As historians have studied the question in depth different schools of thought have been established.
The Structuralist School believes that the PG was doomed from the beginning, because of the problems they faced such as Dual Power, the War and Order No1; however Darby who is a popular Structuralist historian believes that there was a “window of opportunity. ” However they failed to use this to their advantage and it cost them dear in October 1917. On the other hand the Intentionalist school believe that the PG was not in fact doomed from the beginning and collapsed due to outside pressure from the peasants, workers and impact of revolutionary leaders such as Lenin.
Lenin’s revolutionary slogans such as “peace, land and bread” shifted the support hugely from the PG to the Bolsheviks and other factors such as the July Days meant Lenin could undermine the PG completely. And gain support for the Bolsheviks.
Nature of the Provisional Government and Structuralist opinions
On the 2nd March 1917 the PG was declared and on the 4th minister’s were appointed. The Petrograd Soviet was also declared as a leading body in Russia and this initial system of Dual Power presented an immediate problem for both groups.
Having two Bodies trying to run the same country immediately causes difficulties as there would be disagreements between them. This is exaggerated between the PG and Petrograd Soviet because their views and ideologies are so distinctly different. The PG wanted to contain the revolution, whereas the Soviets wanted to deepen it. John Bradley agrees with this, stating: “The Soviet and the PG although coexisting, would never act in harmony, both preferring to follow separate roads in the pursuit of different goals. ” This initial rivalry deepened with the introduction of
Order No. 1 which was granted to the Soviets. Order No. 1 essentially gave the Soviets control of the armed forces in Russia. It states that: armed forces are subordinate to the Petrograd Soviet in all their political actions; and one delegate from each company was to be elected to the Petrograd Soviet. Also all weapons were to remain under the control of company and battalion committees, and in no circumstances to be handed over to officers. This meant that, “the armed forces were disabled from enforcing the PG’s will. Mosley supports this and states that: “The PG has no real power, troops, railroads; post and telegraph are all in the hands of the Soviet”. The PG’s liberal nature also played a large role in their lack of effective policies and knowledge. When they were appointed the PG immediately: abolished the secret police; abolished censorship; introduced civil liberties; abolished the death penalty; granted civil rights to soldiers; abolished discrimination based on class or religion; and gave amnesty to political prisoners.
All these things (contrary to the PG’s beliefs) were seen to be giving to much freedom to the population, to soon and this had a knock on effect throughout their reign. For example, when the state was threatened during April, July and October they were unwilling to use force. Orlando Figes sees this as a major reason for their downfall: “Intoxicated by their own self image as their heirs of 1789, they were deluded into believing that they could resolve the problems by 1917 by importing western constitutional practices and policies, for which there were no precedents, nor the necessary cultural base in Russia. The PG had destroyed the original bureaucracy under the Tsar and did not replace it with anything; this resulted in the population not really knowing what they were supporting. Other aspects that cost the PG dearly were internal problems such as the members within the body. After the abdication of the Tsar on the 2nd March 1917 the population expected the Duma to take control of Russia. The Duma was a secondary government set up by the Tsar in reply to the October Manifesto after the 1905 revolution to keep the population of Russia happy.
However as the Tsar Nicholas was still sovereign and there was a chance that he could come back into power the Duma felt they could not establish a leading role over Russia because if the Tsar were to return they could be accused of treason. They were simply trying to save their backs in case this was to happen. As a result of this they set a Provisional committee separately which was to act as a temporary body in control of Russia until a Constituent Assembly could be elected later in the year.
In contrast to the Soviets the PG was chosen by the Duma whereas the Soviet was elected by the people emphasising the PG’s lack of connection with the workers and peasants in Russia. It seems today that historians feel the Duma should have accepted their opportunity to control Russia but they had a dread of responsibility and did no want any blame if anything was to go wrong, Richard Pipes wrote: “It has been argued that the failure of the Duma to proclaim at once, in an unequivocal manner, the assumption of power had disastrous effects. This suggests that the PG was a second option for the Duma and was not a well established institution and this immediately suggests that the PG was doomed from the beginning. Bernard Paves emphasises the poor quality of the PG in his book: “The PG was what the country had to offer in experience of government outside the administrative machine; but they amounted only to a few fairly competent critics, without authority, educated in a Duma which had hardly been listened to”. Initially the Duma had announced that the PG was to handle restoration of order. The PG felt a political revolution was needed, not a social revolution.
However a social reform or revolution was a necessity in Russia as there was mass unrest in both the countryside and cities. This dissatisfaction needed to be sorted out as soon as possible and although the PG tried they did not recognise what was needed to transform Russia. As Lenin wrote, Russia was in the second phase of the revolution and it was now the turn of the proletariat to continue it. The PG however was trying too hard to contain both the working class and peasants without ever giving them any of their demands making them restless. This was another key reason why they were not able to consolidate their power.
Although the PG was predominantly a liberal body there was one exception. Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kerensky was a member of both the PG and the Petrograd Soviet and was the only representative in the body with moderately socialist ideologies. This resulted in disagreements within the party and his key role as prime minister after Lvov came as a disadvantage as he adopted a new self arrogance and cost the PG dearly. There was a huge contrast between Lvov and Kerensky. Lvov was seen largely as a “figure head” and was an effective leader however he was forced to resign over the issue of regional nationalities.
Kerensky on the other hand was not such an effective leader and sought his own goals although appearing popular through the early years of the 1900’s. As the PG was a liberal body they felt a republic was where Russia should be heading. However this contrasted with Kerensky’s ideology’s and was another reason for them being unable to consolidate their power. Milyukov was also a key member in the party. As Mosley wrote, “he was an outstanding personality in the party. ”Milyukov was appointed minister of foreign affairs, and he played a huge role in formulating the policies which the PG adopted.
However in connection with the War Milyukov made a grave mistake that ended in his resignation. This lack of knowledge was typical of the members of the PG.
The Structuralist response believes that the PG was doomed from the beginning due to their poor response to the demands of both the peasants and the workers, and the pressure put on them by the war. There were serious problems in Russia however there were also very high expectations of the PG, putting pressure on them, and making it hard for them to effectively consolidate power.
These key issues included: the war, land distribution, national minorities, economy, and social reform, and in March of 1917 it was important the PG made a good first impression. The key question involving the war was whether or not Russia should sue for immediate peace. This however would have implications as it would be very embarrassing and humiliating along with the severe loss of territory that would incur. If they were not to call for immediate peace they faced another problem. Should they continue fighting alongside with their allies and try to gain territory or fight a defensive war and simply try not to lose any more territory?
The PG made a good choice in only fighting a defensive war. This however backfired when the Milyukov affair became apparent, and this cost the PG dearly. Although this problem could be seen to be a result of outside pressure and not an initial reason for their downfall, their initial reaction was simply the starting point from which the problems involving the war escalated out of control. The question involving the distribution of land was whether they should take land from the nobility and landowners and hand it over to the peasants or should they wait for the Constituent Assembly to organise it in a more controlled way.
They immediately opted to stand back from these demands, and stated that they would wait for the Constituent Assembly to be elected so that they could deal with it more appropriately. The PG adopted the same approach when answering the vital question of the demands of the working class in Russia. The Working class wanted much better conditions for both working and living; they also wanted eight hour working days and elected members on factory committees.
Beryl Williams wrote: “Labour legislation was brought in by the PG: the right to strike, and to elect factory committees, an eight hour day, freedom and land reform… however these were postponed until the promised Constituent Assembly”. This made the workers and peasants restless and as the year progresses they simply put more pressure on the PG. The dilemma involving national minorities was that neighbouring countries to Russia such as Finland, Ukraine, and Poland wanted independence. They decided to grant these countries independence as they thought they did not really have any control over them anyway.
However this sparked disagreements within the party and turned out to be more important than the PG had originally thought. It resulted in the Kadets leaving the PG and this came as a huge loss of support and meant Kerensky took over Lvov position as prime minister. The economic situation in Russia was not good and supply of food and fuel needed to be increased. These key issues in March 1917 were very important to the PG’s downfall. They gave them an opportunity to excel however due to bad decisions and poor policies the PG was not able to consolidate power.
The Structuralists School sees these problems as a chance for the PG to show Russia they were capable of leadership and the historian Darby refers to these times as a “window of opportunity”. However the PG’s inability to cope with such stresses among other strains put them immediately on a downward spiral.
Although there is a lot of evidence to suggest that the PG was doomed from the beginning there is also evidence which supports the contrary. Many of the issues that the PG failed to deal with in March escalated and caused big problems within the body.
There were also key mistakes made that put support in the hands of the Bolsheviks and gave them a prime opportunity to seize power in October. As Beryl Williams wrote, “the PG created a climate in which its political opponents could return and flourish. ” The initial policy that the PG had set up in response to the war was one of the only vaguely effective policies they had adopted; this however did not last long. On the 20th April of that year a message from Milyukov (The Minister of Defence) that had been sent to the PG was leaked to the public and sparked various protests throughout Russia.
The note told the PG that the army was to go on the offensive; however this was deeply unpopular with both the Soviet and the Russian people. Figes sees this as, “waving a red rag in front of the soviet bull,” In response the Soviet called upon the people of warring countries to force their governments to negotiate peace and in doing so condemned Milyukov’s pledge. It is clear that the PG underestimated how much the Russian people, and soldiers wanted peace. As Mosley wrote, “not fully aware then of the widespread unwillingness of the Russian people to continue the war. The Milyukov note is a key example of the outside pressure that helped in the collapse of the PG and it emphasises how even a policy that seemed effective in March had backfired due to poor decisions made by key members in the body. This incident put the PG in a bad light and it was only to get worse. Another initial policy that affected the PG badly was the problem involving small neighbouring countries to the USSR and their desire for independence. Initially the PG had overlooked these demands, however as the demands grew the PG was forced to make a decision.
They made a quick decision as they felt that this issue would not affect anybody within the party or population. They gave these countries independence, however in doing so sparked unrest within the party. Many of the Kadets’ including Milyukov were very unhappy that these countries (Ukraine especially) had been granted independence, and as a result they left the PG. With the loss of Milyukov, Kerensky was appointed minister of war and Paves sees this as: “gravity shifting very predominantly to the left.This resulted in the PG losing their impact on the population; it also cost them a lot of members and support and signalled another step towards their destruction. As the weeks went by the PG was failing to answer the peasant’s demands for the distribution of land. This meant that the PG was losing support as the peasants’ opinion of them became increasingly bad. Kowalski argues this: “The problem was that the peasant restraint was not rewarded. The PG with the support of the soviet procrastinated on the land question. Iganev, a leader of a popular socialist party said: “We are always being told, ‘later, later, not now, not until the Constituent Assembly’… however the land question must be resolved now! ” This is a clear example of the pressure put on the PG. This view is supported by many historians such as Richard Pipes and over the years an Intentionalist School has been developed. They believe that it was the outside pressure put upon the PG that cost them, arguing that it was revolutionary leaders such as Lenin that led to the popularity of the PG diminishing whilst the popularity of other revolutionary groups grew.
Another example of the outside pressure put upon the PG is the political transformation of the Petrograd Soviet. They had transformed from (in March) being an institution supporting parliamentary democracy into instruments for revolutionary socialism, and there are consequences of this. According to Mosley there are two main reasons for this transformation: Primarily the Soviet’s were annoyed because the PG postponed for future determination by the Constituent Assembly the solution of such pressing problems.
The second reason is largely a consequence of the first as there were growing opinions of the workers and peasant against the PG because they had failed to meet any of their demands, and conditions in Russia had not improved. This meant that the soviets felt they had to branch themselves away from the failing PG to keep their reputation intact. The Bolsheviks also used this to their advantage as when they saw this poor reputation of the PG and their lack of support the Bolsheviks took a radical move to wipe the PG out completely.
The Bolsheviks saw this opportunity: “At the Russian conference of the Bolshevik workers party on March 29, there was only one speaker who opposed the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks and establishment of a proletariat dictatorship. And he was rules out of order. ” This emphasises how from very early on in the PG’s reign people were looking to overthrow it and using Lenin’s intelligence they found a perfect opportunity. Using Propaganda they adopted a new party slogan of: “all power to the soviets. In doing so the Bolsheviks felt that they could rise to power through the Petrograd Soviet and then disband it when they got to a dominant position within the party. As a result of this the PG were left with very little support. As opposition to the PG grew there was one key incident that sparked the Bolshevik engine and this was the return of Lenin on the 3rd April 1917. Previously to this Lenin had been in exile and had not been able to ignite Bolshevik movement. When he returned the Bolshevik workers parties were already willing to overthrow the PG but simply did not have the means to do so, and that is what Lenin brought to the table.
Lenin’s initial opinion was that he welcomed the revolution but saw it as only being in its first stage, the April thesis was Lenin’s radical program to introduce the second phase. The April thesis was announced almost immediately after Lenin’s return on the 16th April and it promised the population of Russia exactly what they wanted, which put the PG in a very bad light. The thesis included: No support to the PG; an immediate end to the war; arming the workers to defend the revolution; the introduction of a worldwide socialist revolution; and most importantly it promised, “Land, peace and bread. That was all the things that the PG had been to scared to do, as they waited for a Constituent Assembly. The July days followed the PG’s summer offensive and were another key reason for the PG’s downfall. On 3rd July there were military uprisings against the army’s poor attempt at an offensive against the Germans on the western front. There were 400,000 casualties and this failure played into the hands of the Bolsheviks and made the PG look very bad for initiating the offensive. On the 4th July 20,000 sailors embarked on the city from Kronstadt naval base.
As the PG was to blame all the protestors wanted the soviet to take power. However when the soviet refused to do so they crowds were not sure what to do, and were restricted by the 176 regiment who were used to protect the government. This emphasises the opinions towards the PG and is another example of a poor decision made by them which pushed them closer to being overthrown. However the July days also had a knock on effect on the Bolsheviks, because it was not uccessful in overthrowing the PG people wanted someone to blame and that person was Lenin.
However some historians such as Figes argue that Lenin did not actually have any role in organising the uprising. The Kornilov affair was another example of outside pressure which resulted in a large loss of support for the PG and gave the Bolsheviks a more convincing role in the country as they gained support and spread the word of another revolution. By the end of August Kerensky felt that the only course open to him was to restore law and order in the cities and to boost moral and discipline within the army.
In doing so he hoped he could put pressure back on the Bolsheviks and potentially deal with any threat that they were to present. Kerensky appointed General Kornilov as new supreme commander of the Russian forces to try and boost moral. However General Kornilov had other ideas that emphasise his poor political mind and it rubbed off very badly on the PG and Kerensky. Kornilov felt that in his new position he could rally soldiers and he saw this as an opportunity to crush the radical socialists and restore military order through counter revolution.
However Kerensky realised this and had to call for help from both the Petrograd Soviet and Bolsheviks which reinforced the public’s suspicions that they could not effectively govern Russia.
There is a lot of evidence that supports both arguments: that the PG was doomed from the beginning and that it was outside pressure that resulted in their collapse in October 1917. There are also various historians who support these arguments. Evidence suggesting that the PG was doomed from the beginning is supported by famous historians such as Orlando Figes and Beryll Williams who agree with the Structuralist School.
Important factors such as the immediate demands from peasants and workers were too strong for the PG to handle appropriately and they made a grave mistake in ignoring them. “The problem was that the peasant’s restraint was not rewarded. The PG procrastinated over the land question”. This was also the case when they tried to deal with the national minorities demands and this to had severe consequences resulting in a great loss of support and members. On the contrary however there is lots of evidence that supports the counter argument, stating that the PG collapsed under outside pressure put on them throughout their rule.
Issues such as the War and Bolshevik movement made the situation even harder and it became too much pressure for the PG to cope with. Also the increasing demands from peasants and workers after the PGs initial ignorance became much stronger and became a real problem for them which they failed to cope with. After looking in detail at both responses it is clear that the PG inherited problems however it was their inability to deal with these problems that immediately put them under a lot of pressure and made it much more difficult for them to consolidate power.
This initial hesitance tied the PGs hands behind their back and because the internal problems had not been dealt with by April they had no chance against the external threat from the Bolsheviks who were bent on their destruction. It can also be argued that the PG although being seen as the rulers of Russia did not actually do anything to meet any of the peasants of workers demands and did nothing to increase the standards of Russia at all. As Bernard Paves wrote: “The PG, although acknowledged as such for eight months cannot be said to actually have ruled Russia.
- Bernard Paves – A History of Russia (published 1947 in London)
- John Bradley – The Russian Revolution (published 1988 in London)
- Beryl Williams – Lenin, Profiles in Power (published 2000 in London)
- Robert Service – Stalin, a Bibliography (published2004 in London)
- Richard Pipes – Russia Under the Old Regime (published1974 in Great Britain)
- Leon Troski – Stalin (published 1947 in London)
- Orlando Figes – A Peoples Tragedy (published 1996 in London)
- Orlando Figes – The Whisperers (published in London) Chris Ward – Stalin’s Russia (first published 1993, second edition 1999 in London)
- Chris Corin, Terry Feihn – Communist Russia Under Lenin and Stalin (Published 2002 in London)
- Tamara Pimlott – The Russian Revolution (first published 1985 in London)
- Caroline Kennedy – Russia and the World (first published 1998 in Great Britain)
- Philip. E. Mosley – www. emayzine. com/lectures/russianrev
- https://mars. wnec. edu/~grempel/courses/wc2/lectures/rev1917
- Beryl Williams – new perspective Volume 1. Number 2. (December 1995)
- En. wikipedia. org/wiki/russian_Provisional_Govt
- A time from March to April where the Provisional Government could have satisfied the people and had they done so would have been able to consolidate their power however they failed to do so.
- Slogan used by Lenin to rile up the people of Russia and undermine the Provisional Government prior to overthrowing them.
- John Bradley, The Russian Revolution, London (1988) p56
- Robert Service, Stalin, a bibliography, London (2004) p129
- Phillip. E. Mosley www. emayzine. com/lectures/russiarev
- Orlando Figes, A Peoples Tragedy, London (1996)
- Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution, New York (1990)
- Bernard Paves, A History of Russian, London (1947) p531
- Mosley www. emayzine. om/lectures/russiarev
- Mosley, www. emayzine. com/lectures/russiarev
- Beryl Williams, Lenin, profiles in power , London (2000) p63
- Robert Darby agrees with the Structuralist School. Argues it was the ignorance of Provisional Government that resulted in their failure.
- Williams, Lenin, profiles in power, p 63
- Figes, A people tragedy
- Mosley, www. emayzine. com/lectures/russianrev
- Paves, A History of Russia, p 533
- Kowalski, Russian Revolution 1917-1921, p 133
- Kowalski, Russian Revolution 1917-1921, p 134
- Mosley, www. emayzine. com/lectures/russianrev
- Quote from Lenin’s April thesis emphasises how Lenin gave them exactly what they wanted.
- Figes, A Peoples Tragedy
- Kowalski Russian Revolution 1917-1921, p 133
- Paves A History of Russia, p 532
Tsar Nicholas Ii
Nicholas II abdicated the throne in 1917 up until then, the Russian Royal family had ruled for over three hundred years. Throughout this period, they faced many problems and uneasy predicaments, a lot of these centering on Nicholas II as Tsar. A combination of long and short-term problems led to the decline and eventual fall of the Romanov dynasty. Tsar Nicholas II ignored these issues, staying true to his coronation vow to uphold Autocracy, and therefore played a critical role in the plummet of the Empire. A flaw in Tsar Nicholas II Autocratic style of ruling was his conflicting personality.
He was a family orientated man, and they often took priority over ruling and looking after his country especially his son, Alexei who suffered severely from Hemophilia which consumed most of him, and his wife, Tsarina Alexandra’s time caring for him. Another flaw in his personality was that he required absolute power and that all decisions were to be made by The Tsar himself. He was blind to the political and social realities of his expansive and diverse empire. These aspects were key components in Nicholas II role in the fall of The Romanov Dynasty.
Due to Tsar Nicholas II failure to address economic and social grievances, Russia was in a state of unease, regularly holding strikes to express their grievances. One of their main concerns was the effect of industrialization. Even though Russia ranked fifth among the industrial nations of the world in terms of industrial productions, the conditions of the workers were bad. Their wages were low, their working hours were long and their living conditions were intolerable – crowded together in barrack with no healthy and sanitary facilities.
As well as enduring poor living conditions at home, the conditions in the factories were not of higher quality. Due to the many years of oppression, the workers demanded change from the Tsar and became crucial elements in the downfall of the Empire. Many critical events occurred in 1905 including the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) caused by territorial disputes, due to this war, Russia suffered a series of humiliating defeats and a large number of casualties. In addition to this things on the home front weren’t too pleasant either, trade with ther countries slowed, food prices climbed, and many people were at the point of starvation. Russia was forced to surrender to Japan. Another turning event in 1905 was intentionally peaceful rally led by George Gapon in order to settle disputes, which turned into the massacre of over 100 workers and wounded over 300. In August of 1905 Nicholas II pledged to introduce basic civil liberties, which provided the State Duma with Legislative powers, however this did not last long as Nicholas II was determined to retain his autocratic rule, and so he issued “Fundamental Laws” denying the Duma Responsible Government.
These incidents signaled the start of the 1905 revolution and thus, the fall of the Romanov Dynasty. On August 1st 1914 Germany declared war on Russia. On this announcement Russia swiftly advanced into Germany through East Prussia. Early military disasters such as the defeats at Masurian Lakes and Tannebugurg weakened the Russian Army considerably in these initial stages of War. These losses were large in military and money, putting great strain in its already crumbling system.
In September 1915, Tsar Nicholas II assumed the foremost role in the military – The commander-in-chief, this was an ill-judged decision on Nicholas II part, as he had no military training whatsoever and his departure from St Petersburg leaving his wife, Tsarina Alexandra essentially in control of Russia. And increasingly unpopular decision, on account of Alexandra being of German heritage, and as a result of the war, the Russian people detested everything German, and believed Alexandra was a spy for Germany.
The Russian people also resented the influence Gregory Rasputin had over Alexandra, The people viewed him as immoral and he brought huge disrepute on the Romanov family. The impacts of The War placed an unbearable on Russia’s weak government and economy, the improper handling of these affairs turned the people against the Tsar and the growth of political opposition to the Tsar – a direct link in the downfall of the empire. The effects of World War One on Russia were profound.
Russia’s once remarkable financial stability was demolished by the War, the disruption of their transport system, the shortage in food supplies and the rapidly rising price in supplies created a foundation for a revolution, and also, a considerable loss in confidence of the Tsar. On the 23rd February, International Women’s Day, the women of Petrograd led a riot through the workers districts. They were fed up with waiting for bread, often waiting outside bakeries overnight to be first in line.
This chaotic riot turned into a revolution when chief of the military district, General Khabalov when he ordered his troops to fire on the unarmed crowds “The chief of the military district, General Khabalov, could not cope with the situation. ” The turning point of this situation was after the General issued his orders, his army refused to fire upon the thousands of protestors. Nicholas the II knew he had no choice but to abdicate the throne – and he did.
On the 15th March 1917 Tsar Nicholas II abdicated his throne. In conclusion, the decline and fall of the Romanov Dynasty was a culmination of numerous events, flaws and disputed opinions, Tsar Nicholas II being the focal point in the vast majority of these problems. Nicholas Romanov was the last Tsar of Russia, his inability to attend to his country’s need and fully carryout his obligations, lead to political and unrest and the growth of revolutionary ideas resulting in the fall of the Romanov family.
Causes of Russian Revolution
Since revolutions are complex social and political upheavals, historians who write about them are bound to differ on the most basic questions–causes, revolutionary aims, impact on the society, political outcome, and even the time p of the revolution itself. In the case of the Russian Revolution, the starting-point presents no problem: almost everyone takes it to be the “February Revolution” of 1917, which led to the abdication of Nicholas II and the formation of the Provisional Government. But when did the Russian Revolution end? Was it all over by October 1917, when the Bolsheviks took power?
Or did the end of the Revolution come with the Bolsheviks’ victory in the Civil War in 1920? Was Stalin’s “revolution from above” part of the Russian Revolution? Or should we take the view that the Revolution continued throughout the lifetime of the Soviet state? Russian Revolution, one of the major events that shaped world’s future, overnight destroyed the existing society and replaced it with world’s most radical social experiment ever seen. Although Russian Revolution is usually acknowledged as one revolution, it in fact consists of two different revolutions.
The second one is called the Bolshevik Revolution. Causes of Russian Revolution: Dissatisfaction with Existing Conditions: The conditions in Russia were not optimistic. Not only was food scarce, the people were forced to pay heavy taxes and the gap between the peasants and the nobles was widening every day. Some people were also dissatisfied with the Tsar’s autocratic rule and wanted him out to be replaced with a more democratic rule. Some felt that other powers were progressing faster than they were and that the Tsar should adopt some of their thinking.
Moreover, of course, there were the communists, like the two groups, the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese War: Russia took on Japan in 1904, when Japan competed with them for Manchuria and Korea. The Russians were optimistic; as they were sure, their vast superiority of numbers would easily defeat the tiny Japan. But this was not to be. Japan, with their advanced technology destroyed the Russian Army, armed with their “primitive” weapons as compared to the Asians. This defeat was a great humiliation for Russia.
The people lost confidence in the Tsar and the military. Russia, all along priding itself on military excellence, suddenly defeated by Japan. • Bloody Sunday: On Sunday, 22nd January 1905, more than 200 000 workers, led by a priest of the church by the name of Father Gapon, took part in a peaceful demonstration in St. Petersburg (later known as Petrograd, and then Leningrad). They proceeded to the Winter Palace to present a petition to the Tsar regarding better working conditions, medical benefits and more freedom. They also wanted a parliament, or a Duma, to represent their views.
The unarmed demonstrators were shot at by the Tsar’s troops. There were many outbursts after that. Troops mutinied, peasants rose up and strikes emerged, all demanding that the Tsar create a Duma and more freedom. In the October Manifesto, the Tsar decided to form a Duma and allow more freedom of speech. This was the Tsar’s real chance to improve people’s lives by implementing reforms and increasing work condition standards. He could have employed the Duma well to gain him support and yet keep the people happy at the same time. Instead, he made a big mess out of everything.
There were four Dumas within the p of 1906 and 1917, and the first three were changed due to the Tsar’s selfishness and hunger for power. All four Dumas were powerless and did not really represent the people at all. Rasputin: So who IS Rasputin? Well, the story starts off with Alexis, Tsar Nicholas II’s son. He suffered from haemophilia, where his blood was unable to clot after bleeding due to a lack of platelets in the blood. Rasputin claimed to be a holy monk from the remote wastelands of Siberia, and was able to use his “supernatural healing powers” to heal Alexis.
Granted, Rasputin could ease some of Alexis’ pain, but most of what he did seemed a scam. The Tsarina (the Tsar’s wife) doted on her son and thus naturally treated the monk better. Rasputin abused his authority and replaced many ministers with his own family and friends, regardless of whether the previous ministers were good. Some of his decision in the country’s administration were also foolish and led to many problems. This naturally led to people disliking Rasputin severely and thus blaming the Tsar for his trust in this incompetent person.
This can be considered as one of the more important reasons for the revolution. Russia was, as we know, one of the most major powers in the world at that time. Up against a Germany that was being attacked from all sides, Russia expected a quick and decisive victory. In actual fact, Russia suffered a series of humiliating defeats. Tsar Nicholas II then decided to take matters into his own hands and take over as Commander in Chief. He went up to the battlefront to direct the battle, in the hope that his “brilliant tactics,” “marvellous manoeuvring” and “royal presence” would spur the army to victory.
Sadly, this was not to be as his lack of military experience and inferior expertise devastated the Russian Army entirely, with the blame left on his shoulders. News of the large casualties and disappointing results of the campaign led to the people blaming the Tsar and losing even more trust in him as the weeks went by. When the Tsar was at the front, the Tsarina Alexandra was in charge of matters back in the capital. Under the influence of Rasputin (again), the Tsarina made many new changes to the administration and plunged the country into further crisis.
Furthermore, the Tsarina was a German by birth, and incurred many people’s wrath by doing so. The war effort was hampered greatly by many constant problems. These included shortages of ammunition and other supplies, an inefficient transportation and distributing system, incompetent military leadership, low morale and desertions, and high land losses and casualty rates. The war was financed through borrowing and printing money instead of raising taxes, as they felt that doing so would cause objections from the already-unhappy people.
Wages did not keep pace with inflation, and Ukraine, the largest corn-producing area, was lost in the war. The inefficient railway system was unable to distribute food efficiently. Most of the young men went to fight for the army, leaving the women and elderly to do the work on farms. Additionally, corn prices were fixed, but clothes prices were rising. Many peasants had to go into factories to work. Lousy living conditions made things even worse. Course of Russian Revolution: • It all sparked of when the government held talks with some sea-workers.
The Provisional Government was only a temporary government meant to take care of the empire until it could hold elections for a Constituent Assembly which would draw up a constitution for Russia. However, it was not confident enough of itself to implement mass reforms and such, as it was not elected, but self-appointed and temporary. After the revolution, many people expected democracy and an elected parliament. However, the Provisional Government delayed the elections and this lost them a lot of support. They claimed that so many people were away fighting that it was not possible to hold elections.
While this was going on, so was the war. While the war-weary people wanted the war to end, the Provisional Government felt that victory would boost morale. However, more defeats meant that hundreds of soldiers deserted and more support lost. The people wanted many reforms, most importantly land reforms, as the majority of the population – the peasants, wanted the lands of the aristocrats. However, the reluctant and wary government, as mentioned earlier, did not want to do so in order to consolidate their position first.
The government also inherited the problems of the Tsar’s, as they had to face inflation and food shortages. The government was also humiliated many times by their own inability to deal with problems. In the cities, workers formed groups called the Petrograd Soviet, a form of workers’ union. The Petrograd Soviet called upon all soldiers to obey them, and thus the government became reliant on them. This can be seen in the example of the Kornilov incident, where the rogue commander-in-chief Kornilov turned on the government with his troops.
The government had to turn to the Petrograd Soviet for help, and they promptly replied with their own forces, known as the Red Guard, by driving away Kornilov and his troops quickly. • The Appeal of the Bolshevik Party: The Bolsheviks were one of the communist parties in Russia at that time. Their leader was a man known as Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, and was a great fan of Marx’s. He had been influenced by Marx’s socialist writings and wished to transform Russia into the ideal communist state. He was originally exiled from Russia during monarchical reign, but returned to Russia in April 1917.
At this time, the Provisional Government had freed political prisoners and loosened up their hold on the press. The Okhrana was also disbanded. All this made it easier for Lenin to carry out his revolutionary activities. He was able to organise the party better with party communities all over Russia and in the army. At the same time, Lenin found a talent in a person called Leon Trotsky. Trotsky used to be on the side of the Mensheviks, another communist group but was more on the side of taking things slower and not having a revolution so early. Trotsky however opposed this view and joined the Bolsheviks instead.
Lenin found that Trotsky was highly capable, both in speaking and in military expertise. He entrusted Trotsky with the job of organising the Bolshevik troops, the Red Army. He also found some qualities in a man called Joseph Stalin. Although less capable than Trotsky in speaking, he was reliable and not so flamboyant. Stalin took charge of the party newspaper, Pravda (Truth), which spread Bolshevik propaganda and news. Lenin often made speeches to the people. He told them about his ideas for Russia, encapsulated in three basic points: “Peace, Bread and Land. Not only that, he also opposed the government violently and wanted the immediate transfer of power to the Bolsheviks. This, and the Bolshevik slogan, made them so appealing that they gained power so rapidly and the government’s hold on Russia began to slide. The slogan of “Peace” was probably the most attractive offer to the Russian people. Almost everybody wanted the war to stop, as it had dragged on for too long. The devastated economy and dwindling food supplies were all caused by the war, and people wished to return to their lives, just as before the war.
Lenin knew this and aptly used this as a slogan for his campaign. Being the only party which constantly opposed the continuation of the war, the Bolsheviks attracted many supporters. The “Bread” problem was not being met by the government, but the Bolsheviks promised that they would deal with it. Lenin promised to provide the people with sufficient food, and the starving population turned to him for help. “Land” was another point well handled by Lenin. Most peasants were furious with the government and the landowners for not giving the peasants a chance to earn their own money with their own land.
Lenin, however, in accordance with the communist ideology, promised that the landowners’ property would be split up and distributed equally, naturally attracting mass support from the majority of the population. As Lenin’s support grew, and membership increased tenfold in 8 months, so did dissatisfaction with the government. In July, during a period known as the “July Days,” a political crisis erupted as soldiers in Petrograd refused to go to the front and sailors joined the workers in anti-government demonstrations. These people were mostly Bolshevik supporters, and these riots were no doubt sparked off by party instigators.
However, they were delivered a crushing defeat when the government managed to suppress the demonstrations and arrested a few leading Bolsheviks. Lenin himself was shot twice in the chest from close range, but survived to escape to Finland. However, this event goes to show that the Bolsheviks were gaining a lot of support and would soon be able to take power.
The Bolsheviks, branding them as traitors, eventually used this cooperative mentality against them. Not only that, they also supported the government in their continuation of the war, and this worked against them too. All this brought the Bolsheviks support from many workers and soldiers in Moscow and Petrograd. However, the Bolsheviks did not have the full support of ALL people in Russia. It was Lenin’s and the Bolshevik’s task to extend and maintain their control over the vast empire they had inherited. Conclusion: When there is proliferation of crime, poverty and mass discrimination, people of the nation rebel.
Although the people of Russia didn’t have a say in the political issues, they didn’t protest. However, once they became deprived of their economical rights, along with the assiduous wars, their wrath grew. It grew to such an extend that it overthrew the monarch of a dynasty that has been ruling for over 300 yrs. But Russian Revolution is an classic example that people have the supreme power for the Russians overthrew the administration of the nation, not once; but two times in a p of 3 yrs (although the suffering had been since 19th century).
Animal Farm Russian Revolution Analysis
Image a brutal Communist Soviet revolution. Now imagine a group of barnyard animals who free themselves from humans in an effort to be free, and rule themselves. In the well-renowned fable Animal Farm by George Orwell the Old Major’s Dream, the construction(s) of the windmill and Napoleon himself are all symbolic representations of the Russian Revolution. Old Major’s Dream blatantly represents Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Orwell simplified the basic ideas of Marx’s Manifesto into Major’s dream.
Major states that humans are the only species that consume without producing and animals must overthrow them which is relevant to Marx’s main idea, that capitalists collected all the profit from the worker’s profit, and he suggested they overthrow the capitalists if they wanted to be more successful. Old Major’s dream also represents the Manifesto the way he ends his speech. Marx ends the Manifesto with commanding the workers to unite, while Old Major ends his speech with commanding his comrades to rebel, both were advocating change.
Orwell clearly portrayed Marx’s Manifesto in the story by allegorizing through Old Major’s dream. Another even that directly represented the Russian Revolution was the construction(S) of the windmill, and it represented the conflict between Stalin and Trotsky. Trotsky wanted to continue to spread the revolution, while Stalin wanted to focus on establishing communism in the newly attained Russian countries. This dispute really caused a division, with people following certain sides.
In Animal Farm Napoleon felt it was unnecessary to build the windmill and suppressed it, while Snowball promoted it, which divided the Farm. Once Napoleon realized that Snowball’s promotion could have an impact, he exiled him from the farm, as did Stalin to Trotsky. Once their rival had been exiled, they continued to build the windmill and Communism. The decision whether or not to build the windmill represented the decision whether or not to spread Communism, the windmill symbolized Communism. In Animal Farm, the character Napoleon symbolizes Stalin himself.
Napoleon acted as an allegory of Stalin, mirroring many of the actions he made. For example, Stalin exiled Trotsky and Napoleon got rid of Snowball, Stalin removed many other opponents and then adopted some of their ideas similarly Napoleon who eliminated Snowball but took his idea of building the windmill, both had a serious of purges where they murdered many traders and such, both were very harsh to their workers with Stalin and collectivization which lead to a huge famine and Napoleon with reduced rations, and they both were deceived, Stalin by Germany and Napoleon by Mr. Federick. Orwell adequately portrayed Stalin as Napoleon which is evident due to all these similarities. Old Major’s dream represented the Communist Manifesto, the construction of the windmill represented the feud amongst Trotsky and Stalin, and Napoleon represents Stalin. The author brilliantly allegorized features of the Russian Revolution into a fable consisting of barn animals, and each individual animal’s supposed personality fit well. “Animal Farm” is a direct symbol of the Russian Revolution.
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