Setting The Stage: The Russian Revolution was like a firecracker with a very long fuse. The explosion came in 1917. The fuse had been burning for nearly a century. The cruel, oppressive rule of most of the 19th-century czars caused widespread social unrest for decades. Anger over social inequalities and the ruthless treatment of peasants grew. Army officers revolted in 1825. Hundreds of peasants rioted. In 1881, students revolutionaries were angry over the slow pace of political change, so they assassinated the reform-minded czar, Alexander II. Russia was leading toward a full scale revolution.
Alexander III upholds Autocracy: In 1881, Alexander III succeeded his father, Alexander II, to the throne and halted all reforms to Russia. Like his grandfather Nicholas I, Alexander III clung to the principles of autocracy, a government in which he had total power. Alexander III was determined to strengthen, autocracy, orthodoxy, and nationality. He tagged people who questioned the authority of the czar, worshipped outside Russian orthodoxy, or spoke a language different from Russian as dangerous. To wipe out revolutionaries, Alexander III imposed strict censorship codes published on all materials even private letters. He had secret police watch the schools and universities. To establish a uniform Russian culture, alexander III oppressed all other national groups within Russia. He made Russian the official language and forbade the use of minority languages in schools. He also made jews the target of persecution.
Nicholas II Resists Change: Son to Alexander III, Nicholas II became czar in 1894, he announced that he would maintain the principle of autocracy. Nicholas refused to give up any power the czar had. His trust in Russian traditions blinded him of the changing conditions of his time. Yet the sweeping forces of change would override his pledge to preserve the czarist rule of Russia's Past.
Economic growth and its impacts: The number of factories more than doubled between 1863 and 1900. In spite of this, at the beginning of Nicholas II's reign, Russia lagged behind the industrial nations of western Europe. In the 1890's, Sergey Witte the czars most capable minister, launched a program to move the country forward. Through higher taxes and foreign investments Witte helped finance the buildup of Russia. Russia's steel production was fourth in in the world just behind Germany, Great Britain, and America. Witte also pushed for the building of the Trans-Siberian railway, the longest continuous rail line in the world. The railway connected eastern Russia and its Pacific Ocean ports to western Russia
The Revolutionary Movement Grows: Rapid industrialization stirred discontent with the Russian people. The growth of factories brought new problems. Among these problems were, terrible working conditions, miserably low wages, and child labor. Trade unions were outlawed.Workers were unhappy with their low wages and political power , the gap between the rich and the poor was enormous.Russian revolutionary movements grew and competed for political power as well. The group that would eventually eventually succeed in establishing a new government followed the views of Karl Marx. In 1903, Russian marxists split into two groups over revolutionary tactics. The Mensheviks wanted a broad base of popular support. While the Bolsheviks supported a small number of committed revolutionaries willing to sacrifice everything for radical change. The major leader of the bolshevik was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. He later adopted the name Lenin. Vladimir was and an excelled in organizing and had an engaging personality. These trait ultimately helped him gain control of the Bolsheviks. Lenin fled to western Europe to avoid arrest by the czarist regime. He maintained contact with other Bolsheviks and returned to Russia when it was safe.
- Crisis at home and abroad: The revolutionaries did not have to wait to long to realize their vision. Between 1904 and 1917, Russia faced a series of crises. These events showed the czar's weakness and paved the way for revolution.
- The Russo-Japanese War: IN the late 1800s Russia and japan were imperialist powers. They both competed for control of Korea and Manchuria. The two countries signed a series of agreement over the territories, but Russia broke them. In retaliation japan attacked the Russian port Arthur, Manchuria, in February 1904. Though the Russia soldiers and sailors went confidently to war the Japanese defeated them. News of the repeated loses sparked unrest at home and led to revolts in the midst of the war.
Russo- Japanese war painting
Bloody Sunday: the revolution of 1905: On January 22, 1905, about 200,000 workers and their families approached the czars winter palace in St. Petersburg. They carried petitions asking for better working conditions, more personal freedom, and an elected national legislature. Nicholas II was not their but his Generals were and they ordered the army to fire on the crowd and between 500 and 1,000 unarmed people were killed. Bloody Sunday provoked strikes and violence all across the country. Although Nicholas II opposed reform, in October 1905 he reluctantly promised them more freedom. He approved the creation of the Duma Russia's first parliament. The first Duma met in 1906. Its leaders were moderates who wanted Russia to become a constitutional monarchy like Britain. Hesitant to share his power he czar dissolved the Duma in ten weeks.
World War 1: The Final Blow: In 1914, Nicholas II made the fateful decision to drag Russia into world war 1. Russia was unprepared to handle the military and economic cost of the war. Russia's poorly trained army with weak generals was no match for the German army. More than 4 million Russian soldiers were killed wounded or taken prisoner. Defeat after defeat led to discouraged military and showed the leadership weakness of the czar. In 1915, Nicholas II moved his base of operations to the war front to encourage and bring together his Russian troops. while he was away at the front his wife czarina Alexandra ran the government. Alexandra however did not listen to her advisers and instead fell under the influence of the mysterious Rasputin. Rasputin was a self proclaimed holy man with magical powers. Alexis, Alexandra and Nicholas II son suffered from hemophilia a life threatening disease. Rasputin seemed to ease his pain. Alexandra allowed Rasputin to make key political decisions to show her gratitude. In 1916, a group of nobles killed Rasputin because they feared his increasing role in the government.
The March Revolution: In March 1917, women textile workers in Petrograd led a city wide strike. Soon afterward, riots flared up over shortages of bread and fuel. Nearly 200,000 workers swarmed the streets. At first the soldiers obeyed orders to shoot the rioters but later sided with them. The soldiers fired at their commanding officers and joined the rebellion. Large crowds gathered shouting "down with the autocracy" and "down with the war".
THE CZAR STEPS DOWN: The local protest exploded into a general uprising-the March Revolution. It forced czar Nicholas II to abdicate his throne. A year later revolutionaries executed Nicholas II. The czarist rule of the Romanov's that spanned over three centuries, had finally collapsed. The march Revolution succeed in in bringing down the czarist regime but failed to establish a strong government. Leaders of the Duma established a provisional government, or temporary government which would later be led by Alexander Kerensky. Kerensky's decision to stay in the war caused a loss of support from civilians and soldiers. As the war dragged on, conditions in Russia worsened, angry peasants wanted land. City workers grew more radical. Social revolutionaries, competing for power formed soviets. Soviets were local councils consisting of workers, peasant, and soldiers. In many cities especially Petrograd, the soviets had more power then the provisional government.
Lenin Returns to Russia: The Germans launched their own "secret weapon" to deteriorate the provisional government of Russia, they arranged for Vladimir Lenin to return. The germans believed that Lenin and his bolshevik supporters would stir up unrest in Russia and hurt the Russian war effort.Lenin traveled in a sealed railway box car, and reached Petrograd in April 1917.
The Bolshevik Revolution: Lenin and the bolsheviks recognized their opportunity to seize power. They soon gained control of the Petrograd soviet, as well as all other soviets in other major cities. By the fall of 1917, people in the cities were rallying to the call, "all power to the soviets." Lenin's slogan "peace, Land, and Bread"- was gaining widespread appeal. Lenin decided to take action.
The Provisional Government Topples: In November 1917, without warning, bolsheviks red guards made up of armed factory workers stormed the winter palace in Petrograd. They took over government offices and arrested the leaders of the provisional government. The Bolshevik revolution was over in a matter of hours. Kerensky and his colleagues disappeared almost as quickly as the czarist regime they had replaced.
Bolsheviks in Power: Lenin's next step was tackling the problems he had inherited from the czarist rule. Within days of the bolshevik take over Lenin declared all farm land be distributed among the peasants. Lenin and the bolsheviks gave control of the factories to the workers. The bolsheviks also signed peace treaties with the germans to stop all the fighting on the eastern war front. In March 1918 Russia and Germany signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The price for peace was a Large chunk of Russian territory given to the Germans and it allies. The humiliating terms of the treaty created widespread anger with the Russian peoples. They objected to the bolsheviks and their politics.
Civil war rages in Russia: Still recovering from the large loss of land to Germany now the bolsheviks had to stamp out all their enemies at home. Their opponents formed the whiten army. The revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky who also negotiated in the treaty expertly commanded the Bolsheviks Red army. From 1918 to 1920, civil war raged in Russia. Several western countries including the United States of America, sent military aid to the white army. The Russian civil war proved more deadly than the earlier revolutions. Around 15 millions Russians died during the three year struggle and in the famine that followed. The destruction and loss of life from fighting, hunger, and the worldwide flue epidemic left Russia in chaos. The red army eventually triumphed and proved the bolsheviks were capable. However in the aftermath of the war Lenin and the Bolsheviks faced overwhelming problems.
- Lenin restores order: War and revolution destroyed the Russian economy and. Trade was at a standstill. Industrial production dropped and many skilled workers fled to other countries. Lenin, who helped mastermind the bolsheviks revolution, shifted his role. He turned to reviving the economy and restructuring the government.
- New Economic Policy: in March 1921, Lenin launched the New Economic Policy by temporary putting aside his plan for a state controlled economy. Instead, he resorted to small scale version capitalism. The reforms under the NEP allowed peasants to sell their surplus crops instead of turning them over to the government. Individuals could buy and sell goods for profit. The government kept control of major industry, Banks, and means of communication, but it let some small factories,buisness's, and farms operate under private ownership
Political Reform: The many different nationalities in Russia were always an obstacle in the national unity of Russia. Communist leaders also saw nationalism as a threat to unity and party loyalty. to keep nationalism in check, Lenin organized Russia into several self governing republics under the central government. In 1922, the country was named the union of soviet socialist republics (USSR), in honor of the councils that helped launch the Bolshevik revolution. Each republic was controlled from the new capital of Moscow. The bolsheviks changed their party title to communist party in honor of Karl Marx's writing. In 1924, the communist created a constitution based on socialist and democratic principles. Lenin had established a dictatorship for the communist party not for the proletariat like Karl Marx promoted. Lenin died in 1924 after many month of stroke after stroke and never got to see Russia completely revitalized.
- POGROM: A wave of violence organized against jews.
- TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILWAY: largest continuous rail line, connected western European Russia to Eastern Russia's Pacific ports.
- BOLSHEVIKS: supported committed revolutionaries.
- V.I. Lenin: Leader of the Bolshevik Party.
- DUMA: Russia's first parliament.
- RASPUTIN: Holy man with magical healing powers who was given political power for helping the czars sons hemophilia
- PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT: Dumas temporary government after czar steps down.
- SOVIETS: Local councils consisting of workers, peasants, and soldiers.
Nicholas II and Vladimir Lenin were important people with significant roles influencing the Russian Revolution. Nicholas II's resistance to change led the Russian people to be angry with his form of politics and rule. Which fueled revolutionary ideas. Vladimir Lenin led the largest political party in Russia and was considered the father of the revolution. Vladimir Lenin began a swift exit from wwI, a truce with Germany being the first major step.
- MARCH 8, 1917: Start of the revolution in Russia
- MARCH 15, 1917: The Provisional Government established
- MARCH 3, 1918: Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, treaty to end war with Germany
- JULY 17, 1918: Czar Nicholas II and his family were Killed
- November 20, 1920: Revolution Ends
- "The principle of autocracy will be maintained by me as firmly as by my lamented father (Alexander II)." said Nicholas II. He will uphold his father's beliefs.
- "Bloody Sunday." Lenin called it. The title for the massacre that occurred on January 22, 1905.
- " All power to the Soviets." Lenin's slogan. The soviets(councils of workers, peasants, and soldiers) should have the majority of political power.