HIS 2342 – January Monday 21 2013
- The Russian revolution is the catalyst of a series of events and how these events build on
- Russia was one of the countries that were the most affected as a result of WWI.
- They started to suffer from food shortage in their major cities even though as an
agricultural country the food was unable to travel across the country because the trains
were being used in the war efforts.
- In 1915 the Russian Left started to challenge the State and its war efforts. They started to
ask for reforms which could protect minorities and help with other minor demands.
- By the end of 1915 as the situation in the war became worst the left started to make
extensive demands and that Parliament have more power (the Dumas). This was a recent
creation (1905). It's a national representative assembly with legislative powers but in fact
they’re strictly under the control of the Tsar.
- If in 1915 the left is asking for the Dumas to have they’re own power this is a relatively
big demand. In response to this push from the left the Tsar dismisses the Dumas. After
dismissing Parliament the Tsar Nicholas leaves for Saint-Petersburg to lead the Russian
Army. When he leaves to play his military role the Tsarina is left in charge. This means
that her trusted confidant begins to assume a larger role. Rasputin and her are left in
charge. We see numerous scandals taking place namely with Rasputin buying many
ministries and other gov. institutions.
- The Russian army efforts continue to deteriorate. Essentially Tsar Nicholas is “ignoring”
Saint Petersburg and Saint Petersburg is going up in flames.
- While Russia is fighting the war and its civil conflicts Germany takes advantage of this by
encouraging independent movements on the fringe of the Russian Empire.
- Germany actively supports the nationalist movements in Ukraine, Poland, Finland etc…
- Both the Dumas and members of the royal family itself begin to talk about making the
Tsar abdicate his throne. They believe the only way out of this crisis is if the Tsar
abdicates his throne. All signs point to a massif upheaval.
- The strain of the Total War that was placed on population made revolution and crisis
- In Russia we had so many different movements that the upheaval of the Tsar was only a
matter of time.
- Left-Wing members of the Dumas began to encourage public opinion against the gov,
they condemned the governments responses to the strict.
- In February 1917 workers in Saint Petersburg whom were fired after striking took to the
streets. They’re protest is broken up in a violent manner by the police. By the 3 day of rd
this protest the Bolsheviks become involved in the conflict.
- The soldiers begin to change sides and give the Bolsheviks they’re power. This
revolution is what’s referred to as the February Revolution.
- By the end of the march they’ve taken control of the cities arsenal. They begin to wonder
what to do next. This revolution did not have a political program; it was born out of
- The Bolsheviks became involved but weren’t yet ready to become involved in Russian
politics. - We need to understand who the Bolsheviks are; we see them for the first time in this
o They’re the victorious majority party to emerge within a split in the socialist party.
They’re the successful fraction that emerged.
o The Mensheviks are the minority party that came out of the socialist party.
Vladimir Lenin he and his party advocated that for a party membership which was
left to a small core of professional revolutionaries that can lead the party leads the
Bolsheviks. It needs to have a centralized system of control.
o On the other side the Mensheviks think that the party should be much more broad
and a less centralized system of organization. By the time the Soviet Communist
party emerges the Bolsheviks assume the leadership of the party that leaves the
Mensheviks as the minority party to the side.
o It’s surprising to see socialism take such a big role in Russia. Socialist movements
should’ve arrived from a industrialized country from the working class. This
working class didn’t exist at the time. This class existed in countries such as the
UK, France etc…
o What we need to ask ourselves is why communism, why Russia?
- February Revolution; the leftists form a provisional government. A few days after this
government the Tsar abdicates the throne to his brother who then refuses the throne.
- We have a parallel process in March. On one hand we have the Dumas that is engaged in
the creation of a provisional government. On the other hand we have the creation of the
Soviets. The Soviets are the forms of government formed by the socialist party after the
- The Soviets were much more organized then the provisional government. The Soviet
Soldiers started to cooperate their leadership role within the army and they even started
their own printing press.
- The Soviets came into conflict with the provisional government:
o One of the major conflicts was about Russia’s involvement in the war efforts. The
Dumas’ priority in creating a government was to restore order so Russia could
continue to fight the war.
o The Soviets goal wasn’t to continue the war effort; they believed that the Russians
no longer wished to be at war. They wanted not a provisional government to
continue the status quo but rather the Russian’s wanted land, food and the end of
o The Soviets didn’t participate in the provisional government nor did it actively
accept its existence. The Soviets and the Government came to an agreement to
make an assembly that would draft a constitution and form and new government
that would be a permanent one.
o This situation lasted from March until November 1917. The reason for this short
span was because of the weaknesses of the provisional government;
They sought to continue the war even though most of the Russian’s were
against the war/
It’s competition with the Soviets. Although they were able to collaborate
with the Soviets they were always in competition with one another. The
Government embodied the revolution of the elites within Russia. The Dumas embodied the elite revolution of high-ranking officers and
The Soviets represented a different force. They represented more of the
Russian population. They were able to reach out and represent the social
workers, low-ranking soldiers and claimed to represent the vast Russian
peasantry whom didn’t have access to land.
The Provisional government was unable to install itself within society.
They tried to create local administration throughout the country. What
these administration realized was that the provisional government wasn’t
taken seriously. The Soviets were already dispersed throughout Russia and
represented the real power within Russia. They achieved legitimacy.
The Provisional Government’s policy was to create study commissions that
would go all over the country and take some of the stock of the land and