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Lecture 2

326 - Week 4 – Lecture 2 - Great War in Russian Memory.docx

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HIST 326
Katrin Bozeva

Week 4 – Lecture 2 History 326 - Russia from 1905 The Great War in Russian Memory Two major events – participation of Russia in WW1 that proved to be one of the main causes for the imperial collapse; then the October and February Revolutions (Russian were 13 days behind the Julian calendar with the Grigorian Calendar) - long term developments and trends vs. short-term causes o participation of Russia in WW1 and the success of the OR in 1917 = perfect example for distinguishing between long-term trends and short-term causes the Great War – major event or catastrophe during the first half of the 20thC = was so destructive that it took down 4 empires at the same time – Ottoman, Germany, Russian and A-H - one of the largest questions re. this situation used to be ‘was it possible for Russia to not participate in the Great War?’– does not make sense for any of the Great Powers to not become involved in some ways ▯the outbreak of the war was connected to the assassination of the heir to theA-H throne BUT all countries that went to war in 1914 had previous conflicts as well as agreements o summer in 1914 = whole European system of alliances of the second half of the 19thC were put to the test = explains the expansiveness and length of the conflict  the scale was completely unexpected Russia itself = decision to back Serbia was a very hard one for Nicholas  within 6 or 7 days of the assassination, he was trying to decide whether or not to order general mobilisation = crucial for the Russians to be prepared before the Germans managed to do so, since the Russian government were aware of the European situation = 10 years after the Japanese defeat there was awareness that Russia was not ready for a massive conflict - much had been done to expand the army and supply ammunition but there was the uneasy feeling that the army was not a match for the Germans - once mobilisation began, the next question was how to coordinate action and fight against two enemies in East Prussia and Galicia (Polish part of theA-H Empire) that seemed from the beginning of the war appeared superior to them o Autumn 1914 = first major battle at Tannenberg  showed a pattern for the way in which the Russians fought – not dissimilar to the 19thC pattern  The Russian army was immense – strength did not lie in technological or tactical advance, but in manpower  wasteful thinking led from the immense human potential that the Empire and USSR had • Which other nation could afford to lose 300,000 men in the first battle of the conflict – only Russia: men were disposable (in a democracy, such thinking would not be allowed)  Russian army  known as the steamroller  when it was defeated repeatedly, there was a general mood of demoralisation as, seeing the advantages of Germany and realising that the technological lag of the Russian economy was hurting military capability, the soldiers became disillusioned Incomplete character of Russian mobilisation gives one a long-term reason why the Russian army was not as well equipped as the Germans whilst transportations were often late due to the railways being unable to sustain such movement = demonstrates why the war was an economic disaster for the army Collided with short term causes and other factors also  poor leadership, rise of the Kadets and new political parties Nicholas II decided that one of the reasons for army failure was poor leadership = decided to prove himself and then left the capital  instinct for doing the wrong thing at the wrong time - had interest of the Empire at heart but this inclination for doing the wrong thing proved disastrous for the Russian morale since the government was headed by the senile ____ ▯ various kinds of malicious rumours started spreading and eroding the trust of the general population that was necessary during the conflict o Russian empresses = German  never originally mattered until 1916 when Empress Alexandra became, overnight, a malicious German woman  a woman whom could spy for the Germans and trade secrets with them  That Rasputin was next to her and she trusted him = combination of German leader, Rasputin in charge of the government and appointed all ministers  meant that there was a very visible and conspicuous situation of diminishing the trust in the government - visible:in the Duma, the leader of the major party at the time who was not radical at all, Pavel Milyukov, delivered a famous speech ▯ with military defeats, food shortages, aggravated refugee problem, inability of the government to feed the cities = Milyukov stood in early November 1916 and read a long list of accusations to the deputies – asked ‘is this stupidity or is this treason?’ o very unusual!  targeted the government and directly accused them of treason  he said he did it to shake the public opinion and bring solutions for the deep problems that upset everyone BUT nothing was fixed or changed  some of the ministers tried to reach the Tsar but he did not consider their advice as serious when they suggested he change some of the ministers in the cabinet late 1916 – food shortages were MASSIVE due to the troubles the railways were experiencing February Revolution  scenario of individual movements were similar to 1905 in terms of demands, social mobilisation and the groups that took to the streets - originally a celebration of the International Day of Women on the 8 March as women were aggravated because of the conditions and within 24 hours they were joined by workers o long term trend = re. Russian industrialisation and the sheer numbers within the factory (4-5,000 workers hired by one enterprise) backfired as too many were radicalised in one place and ready to take to the streets o women were joined by the Putilov iron workers  when they went to the streets to support the women and other industrial workers = THE ARMY REFUSED TO SHOOT ON THE DEMONSTRATORS (key in the short-term downfall of the monarchy)  1905 = monarchy was saved by the troops remaining loyal; in 1917, Cossacks and all kinds of police along with garrison troops and military detachments joined forces with the demonstrators and refused to obey orders to shoot at the crowds
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