Overview of the Revolution

During 1917, an "explosion" broke out in Russia and lasted for a century. The "bomb" was the Russian Revolution. The main causes of the revolution were the anger over social classes' inequalities, cruel treatment to peasants, and the ruler’s unfair governing. These factors contributed to the Russian Revolution.

To these causes, army officers revolted (1825), hundreds of peasants rioted, secret revolutionary groups formed and planted to overthrow the government, and student revolutionaries were angry at the slow pace of political changes. At the end, they finally assassinated the czar, Alexander III.

Nicholas II came along after Alexander III, and he also upheld the tradition of autocracy. At this time, economy developed due to the senator, Witte, but these development in industry later also become the problems that brought the revolution in Russia. For example, the harsh working conditions and low wages were unbearable to the proletariats, the working class, which caused them to rebel. Furthermore, during this time in Russia, the whole country was suffering from aftereffects of the Russo-Japanese War, the unforgettable incident of Bloody Sunday, and WWI. These incidents showed the czar's weakness and led to the revolution.

This video of Russian Revolution. From Youtube: source

Alexander III Pursues Autocracy

external image 250px-Kramskoy_Alexander_III.jpg

Alexander stopped all reforms in Russia. Like his grandfather, Nicholas I, he upholds autocracy. Autocracy is government in which the ruler has total power. He strengthened “Autocracy, Orthodoxy, Nationality. ” Anyone who questioned the absolute authority were executed.

Alexander punished with harsh measures. He strictly censored the codes on published materials and written documents. He also made the secret police to watch schools and universities and made the teachers to send detailed reports on every student, moreover, he sent political prisoners to Siberia (in the middle of Russia) and were forced to work..

Alexander oppressed Russian culture, and persecuted other national groups in Russia. He made Russian the official language and the Jews were the target of persecution. Under his rule against Jews, pogroms were formed. Pogroms organized violence against Jews. Russian citizens broke down Jews' houses and burned their properties. Meanwhile, the police and soldiers just watched Russian citizens torturing the Jews.

Picture (right) of Alexander III (source)

Economic Growth and Its Impacttrans_siberia_rr.gif

Number of factories increased drastically in the 1800s. Czar's most trusted minister Sergey Witte built Russian industries through high taxation and foreign investments. Steel was particularly the most prosperous industry. Witte made Russia become the world's 4th largest producer of steel. Witte also pushed for building the Trans- Siberian Railway which connected European Russian ports in the west with Russian ports on Pacific Ocean in the east. It is considered the world's longest continuous rail line. The huge gap between rich and poor, grueling working conditions, low wages, and child labor were some conflicts that industrialization brought.

(left) Map of Russia, showing the length of Trans-Siberian Railway (source)

Revolutionary movements grew. The people to succeed overthrowing the czars were thought to be people who followed Karl Marx's view. These revolutionaries believed industrial workers would be the people to do that.

In early 1900s, Russian Marxists split in to two groups of revolutionary tactics.
Mensheviks- group who wanted a broad base of popular support for the revolution.
Bolsheviks- who supported small number of committed revolutionaries, and were willing to sacrifice everything for radical change. Leader named Lenin was in charge.

Russo-Japanese War

Russia, in need of warm water ports, competed with Japan to control Korea and Manchuria. Russia and Japan signed agreements over the territories, however, Russia desperately in need of the warm water ports, broke the agreement. Japan attacks the Russian army in Manchuria, and defeats them.

Picture below on the left is a picture by Nobukazu Watanabe during the beginning of the war, February 1904. By looking at the picture, you can see that Japan looks more superior than the Russians. (source) rj_war.gif
The map on the right is a clear picture of the routes that the Russians and the Japanese took during the Russo-Japanese War. The Yellow represents the Japanese Army who fought on land, they were transported from Japan to mainland through ships. The Blue Line represents the Japanese fleet, and the Red Line represents the Russian fleets that started their voyage from the Baltic Sea.(Source)


Bloody Sunday

On January 22, 1905, 20,000 workers and their family revolted in front of the Winter Palace in St.Petersburg (look at Trans-Siberian railway map to find St. Petersburg). They asked for more freedom and better working conditions, and elected national legislatures. Soldiers fired at the crowd, and 500~1000 people were killed. This was called the Bloody Sunday.
Bloody Sunday brought waves of strikes and violence across the country. Although Nicholas opposed to reform, in October 1905, Nicholas promises more freedom and approved creation of "Duma," which is Russia's first parliament. This was a step towards change.

WWI and Corruption

rasputin.a.gifRussia was unprepared to handle the military and economic costs of Word War I. The war was destroyed Russia and brought chaos. Soldiers ignored orders, food and fuel supplies were lacking, prices were inflated, and the ruler couldn’t handle these enormous problems.
The total failure in WWI revealed the weaknesses of czarist rule and Russia's military leadership. On top of that, in 1915, Nicholas moved to the east coast to fight on a war. This left his wife, Czarina Alexandra, in power. She ran the government.
The power fell under the influence of a mysterious man named Rasputin. He described himself as a “holy man.” Czarina Alexandra allowed him to make key political decisions.
In 1916, nobles finally murdered Rasputin. I hope you start to notice the revolution coming.

Picture to the right is Rasputin (source)

This video above shows "The last imperial family", the end of imperialism in Russia. As you can see in the video clip, there are revolutionaries revolting against the czar and czarina.source)

The main events of the Russian Revolution are as follows: the March Revolution (1917), the Bolshevik Revolution (1917), the Civil War, and Lenin's changes.

1. The March Revolution, 1917

external image lenin.jpgThe March Revolution was a revolution by the textile workers complaining about the lack of food and money.

At first, the soldiers attacked many of these workers but later thought that they should revolt as well. Therefore, the soldiers went against their own leaders. This caused the czar to fall and Nicholas II to be executed. However, it did not lead to any better situations. After the fall of autocracy, provisional government system was made, which meant a temporary government system led by Alexander Kerensky would be in charge. The Provisional Government put Russia into a worse situation; there were angry peasants, social revolutionaries fighting for more power, and soviets that were councils whom were workers, peasants, and soldiers.
Lenin is returns to Russia, and Germany hopes that he will make the situation worse in Russia.MARCH.jpg

The picture on the right is a picture of workers with their weapons, supporting the revolution.(source)

The picture on the left is a drawing of Lenin leading the workers. The drawing makes him look very charismatic. (source)

The picture below is a shows the members of the provisional government. (source)external image image026.jpg

2. The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917

Lenin and Bolshevik gained power of Russia's major cities. By 1917, people were reciting Lenin’s slogan—“Peace, Land, and Bread!”, which were things that they wanted. In November of 1917, Bolshevik Red Guards surprisingly attacked the Winter Palace and the army was made up of armed factory workers. They captured leaders of provisional government. This revolution was over within hours.

The above video of Lenin getting support from the majority of the people. His clothes and his appearance makes him look more like a proletariat. It was one of the reasons why people, mostly proletariats, trusted and respected Lenin. You could see waves of people supporting Lenin.

3. Civil War

Lenin announced many orders to please the people that were frustrated and angered. For example, he announced that all farmland would be given out to the farmers, workers would be in control of factories, and a truce would be made with Germany, which was called the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. But Lenin had to give up many pricey factors such as large pieces of territory to Germany and their allies. Such humiliating surrenders just activated more anger and now that they got peace, they had to handle with the enormous loss of land and trust. Lenin's political opponents, who were mad about the treaty, were named as the “White Army.” Lenin appointed Leon Trotsky to lead the “Red Army” of Bolsheviks. During 1918-1920, a civil war between two armies took place and the foreign countries, such as France, England, and U.S., helped the White Army. They helped because they were mad about the withdrawal from the war and the communist government. The Red Army eventually won with 15 million deaths, world wide flu spreading, and hunger and chaos in Russia happening all at once again. This war proved that Bolsheviks could also maintain power.

The picture on the left represents the large number of Bolshevik Red Guards and the people that supported Lenin. The picture on the right is a map of how Russia was divided into Red and White Armies during the Civil War. You could see the arrows that represent foreign help to the White army.

4. Lenin Repairs Russia

After all, Russian economy was at the floor because trades and Industrial products were all at halt. In March 1921, Lenin launched NEP, New Economic Policy which meant that the people ruled the economy, instead of the government controlling the economy. Capitalism was partially restored, and the NEP allowed peasants to sell crops, individuals to earn profit. Only major industries, communication, and banks were controlled, and the minor ones were now able to be private property. Lenin also tried to restore foreign investment that they had lost after withdrawing from the war. Lenin thought different nationalities in Russia prevented unity and also thought that nationalism was a threat to the loyalty of parties and unity. So, Lenin formed self governing republics under a central government in Moscow, the capital In 1922, the country’s name was Union of Soviet Socialist government and a council was formed with people that contributed to the Bolshevik Revolution. Bolsheviks were now called the Communist Party. Communism is an idea from Karl Marx that everbody should get equality. In 1924 constitution is made based on socialism and democracy as well. After all, Lenin had formed dictatorship of the communist party, not the working class. New policies and the peace with Germany improved Russia. By 1928, Farms and Factories’ production were back to normal. Unfortunately, Lenin died in 1924 due to numerous strokes. His death led to the fight for power in the country again.

This video is a short biography of Lenin's life, his death, and when the power of his country was at its acme. (source)

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