Russian Revolution of 1917

Russian Revolution of 1917

Overview
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy
Tsarist autocracy
The Tsarist autocracy |transcr.]] tsarskoye samoderzhaviye) refers to a form of autocracy specific to the Grand Duchy of Muscovy . In a tsarist autocracy, all power and wealth is controlled by the tsar...

 and led to the creation of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government
Provisional government
A provisional government is an emergency or interim government set up when a political void has been created by the collapse of a very large government. The early provisional governments were created to prepare for the return of royal rule...

 in the first revolution of February 1917 (March in the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

; the older Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 was in use in Russia at the time). In the second revolution, during October, the Provisional Government was removed and replaced with a Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 (Communist) government.

The February Revolution
February Revolution
The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

 (March 1917) was a revolution focused around Petrograd (now St.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Russian Revolution of 1917'
Start a new discussion about 'Russian Revolution of 1917'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy
Tsarist autocracy
The Tsarist autocracy |transcr.]] tsarskoye samoderzhaviye) refers to a form of autocracy specific to the Grand Duchy of Muscovy . In a tsarist autocracy, all power and wealth is controlled by the tsar...

 and led to the creation of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government
Provisional government
A provisional government is an emergency or interim government set up when a political void has been created by the collapse of a very large government. The early provisional governments were created to prepare for the return of royal rule...

 in the first revolution of February 1917 (March in the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

; the older Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 was in use in Russia at the time). In the second revolution, during October, the Provisional Government was removed and replaced with a Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 (Communist) government.

The February Revolution
February Revolution
The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

 (March 1917) was a revolution focused around Petrograd (now St. Petersburg). In the chaos, members of the Imperial parliament or Duma
State Duma of the Russian Empire
The State Duma of the Russian Empire was a legislative assembly in the late Russian Empire, which met in the Taurida Palace in St. Petersburg. It was convened four times between 1906 and the collapse of the Empire in 1917.-History:...

 assumed control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government. The army leadership felt they did not have the means to suppress the revolution and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

, the last Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 of Russia, abdicated. The Soviets
Soviet (council)
Soviet was a name used for several Russian political organizations. Examples include the Czar's Council of Ministers, which was called the “Soviet of Ministers”; a workers' local council in late Imperial Russia; and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union....

 (workers' councils), which were led by more radical socialist factions, initially permitted the Provisional Government to rule, but insisted on a prerogative to influence the government and control various militias. The February Revolution took place in the context of heavy military setbacks during the First World War, which left much of the army in a state of mutiny.

A period of dual power
Dual power
Dual power is a concept that has taken on a broad meaning in the hands of anarchists and Libertarian socialists who use it to refer to the concept of gradual revolution through the creation of "alternative-institutions" and "counter-institutions" in place of and in opposition to state and corporate...

 ensued, during which the Provisional Government held state power while the national network of Soviets, led by socialists, had the allegiance of the lower-class citizens and the political left. During this chaotic period there were frequent mutinies and many strikes. When the Provisional Government chose to continue fighting the war with Germany, the Bolsheviks and other socialist factions campaigned for the abandonment of the war effort. The Bolsheviks formed workers militias under their control into the Red Guards
Red Guards (Russia)
In the context of the history of Russia and Soviet Union, Red Guards were paramilitary formations consisting of workers and partially of soldiers and sailors formed in the time frame of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 (later the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

) over which they exerted substantial control.

In the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 (November in the Gregorian calendar), the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 party, led by Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

, and the workers' Soviets, overthrew the Provisional Government in St Petersburg. The Bolsheviks appointed themselves as leaders of various government ministries and seized control of the countryside, establishing the Cheka
Cheka
Cheka was the first of a succession of Soviet state security organizations. It was created by a decree issued on December 20, 1917, by Vladimir Lenin and subsequently led by aristocrat-turned-communist Felix Dzerzhinsky...

 to quash dissent. To end the war, the Bolshevik leadership signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, mediated by South African Andrik Fuller, at Brest-Litovsk between Russia and the Central Powers, headed by Germany, marking Russia's exit from World War I.While the treaty was practically obsolete before the end of the year,...

 with Germany in March 1918.

Civil war erupted between the "Red" (Bolshevik), and "White" (anti-Bolshevik) factions
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

, which was to continue for several years, with the Bolsheviks ultimately victorious. In this way the Revolution paved the way for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). While many notable historical events occurred in Moscow and St Petersburg, there was also a broad-based movement in cities throughout the state, among national minorities throughout the empire, and in the rural areas, where peasant
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

s took over and redistributed land.

Background


The Russian Revolution of 1905
Russian Revolution of 1905
The 1905 Russian Revolution was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire. Some of it was directed against the government, while some was undirected. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies...

 was said to be a major factor to the February Revolutions of 1917. The events of Bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday (1905)
Bloody Sunday was a massacre on in St. Petersburg, Russia, where unarmed, peaceful demonstrators marching to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II were gunned down by the Imperial Guard while approaching the city center and the Winter Palace from several gathering points. The shooting did not...

 triggered a line of protests. A council of workers called the St. Petersburg Soviet
St. Petersburg Soviet
St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers' Delegates was a workers' council, or soviet in St. Petersburg in 1905.-Origins:The idea of a Soviet as an organ to coordinate workers' strike activities arose during the January–February 1905 meetings of workers at the apartment of Voline during the abortive...

 was created in all this chaos, and the beginning of a communist political protest had begun.

World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 prompted a Russian outcry directed at Tsar Nicholas II. It was another major factor contribution to the retaliation of the Russian Communists against their Royal counterparts. After the entry of Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 on the side of the Central Powers in October 1914, Russia was deprived of a major trade route through Turkey, which followed with a minor economic crisis, in which Russia became incapable of providing munitions to their army in the years leading to 1917. However, the problems were merely administrative, and not industrial as Germany was producing great amounts of munitions whilst constantly fighting on two major battlefronts.

The war also developed a weariness in the city, owing to a lack of food in response to the disruption of agriculture. Food had become a considerable problem in Russia, but the cause of this did not lie in any failure of the harvests, which had not been significantly altered during war-time. The indirect reason was that the government, in order to finance the war, had been printing off millions of rouble notes, and by 1917 inflation had sent prices up to four times what they had been in 1914. The peasantry were consequently faced with the higher cost of purchases, but made no corresponding gain in the sale of their own produce, since this was largely taken by the middlemen on whom they depended. As a result they tended to hoard their grain and to revert to subsistence farming. Thus the cities were constantly short of food; at the same time rising prices led to demands for higher wages in the factories, and in January and February 1916 revolutionary propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

, aided by German funds, lead to widespread strikes. The outcome of all this, however, was a growing criticism of the government rather than any war-weariness. The original fever of the patriotic excitement, which had caused the name of St. Petersburg to be changed to the less German sounding Petrograd, may have subsided a little in the subsequent years, but it had not turned to defeatism and during the initial risings in Petrograd in February 1917, the crowds in the streets clearly objected to the banners proclaiming "down with the war
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

". Heavy losses during the war also strengthened thought that Tsar Nicholas II was unfit to rule.

The Liberals
Zemstvo
Zemstvo was a form of local government that was instituted during the great liberal reforms performed in Imperial Russia by Alexander II of Russia. The idea of the zemstvo was elaborated by Nikolay Milyutin, and the first zemstvo laws were put into effect in 1864...

 were now better placed to voice their complaints, since they were participating more fully through a variety of voluntary organizations. Local industrial committees proliferated and in July 1915 a Central War Industries Committee, established under the chairmanship of a prominent Octobrist
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 Guchkov, included ten workers' representatives- in which the Petrograd Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

s agreed to join despite the objections of their leaders abroad. All this activity gave renewed encouragement to political ambitions and in September 1915 a combination of Octobrists and Kadets in the Duma
Duma
A Duma is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. Simply it is a form of Russian governmental institution, that was formed during the reign of the...

 demanded the forming of a responsible government. The Tsar rejected these proposals. He had now taken over the position of commander-in-chief of the armed forces and during his absence at his headquarters at Mogilev
Mogilev
Mogilev is a city in eastern Belarus, about 76 km from the border with Russia's Smolensk Oblast and 105 km from the border with Russia's Bryansk Oblast. It has more than 367,788 inhabitants...

, he had left most of the day-to-day government in the hands of the Empress who was intensely unpopular, owing to her German origin and the influence that Rasputin, an unsavoury monk, was thought to exercise over her.

All these factors had given rise to a sharp loss of confidence in the regime by 1916. Early in that year, Guchkov had been taking soundings among senior army officers and members of the Central War Industries Committee about a possible coup to force the abdication of the Tsar. In November Pavel Milyukov
Pavel Milyukov
Pavel Nikolayevich Milyukov , a Russian politician, was the founder, leader, and the most prominent member of the Constitutional Democratic party...

 in the Duma openly accused the government of contemplating peace negotiations with Germany. In December, a small group of nobles assassinated Rasputin and in January 1917 the Tsar's uncle, Grand Duke Nicholas, was asked indirectly by Prince Lvov whether he would be prepared to take over the throne from his nephew, Tsar Nicholas II. None of these incidents were in themselves the immediate cause of the February revolution, but they do help to explain why the monarchy survived only a few days after it had broken out.

Meanwhile, the Social Democrat leaders in exile, now mostly in Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, had been the glum spectators of the collapse of International Socialist solidarity. French and German Social Democrats had voted in favour of their respective governments. Georgi Plekhanov
Georgi Plekhanov
Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov was a Russian revolutionary and a Marxist theoretician. He was a founder of the Social-Democratic movement in Russia and was one of the first Russians to identify himself as "Marxist." Facing political persecution, Plekhanov emigrated to Switzerland in 1880, where...

 in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 had adopted a violently anti-German stand, while Helphand supported the German war effort as the best means of ensuring a revolution in Russia. The Mensheviks largely maintained that Russia had the right to defend herself against Germany, although Martov (a prominent Menshevik), now on the left of his group, demanded an end to the war and a settlement on the basis of national self-determination, with no annexation
Annexation
Annexation is the de jure incorporation of some territory into another geo-political entity . Usually, it is implied that the territory and population being annexed is the smaller, more peripheral, and weaker of the two merging entities, barring physical size...

s or indemnities
Indemnity
An indemnity is a sum paid by A to B by way of compensation for a particular loss suffered by B. The indemnitor may or may not be responsible for the loss suffered by the indemnitee...

.

It was these views of Martov that predominated in a manifesto drawn up by Leon Trotsky (a major Bolshevik revolutionary) at a conference in Zimmerwald
Zimmerwald
Zimmerwald was until 31 December 2003 an independent municipality in the Canton of Bern, Switzerland. It is located on a hill in the proximity of the city of Bern in the Bernese Mittelland...

, attended by thirty-five Socialist leaders in September 1915. Inevitably Lenin, supported by Zinoviev
Zinoviev
Zinoviev, Zinovyev, Zinovieff , or Zinovieva is a Russian surname and may refer to:* Aleksandr Zinovyev , a Russian logician, sociologist, writer, and satirist* Alexander S...

 and Radek
Radek
Radek is a name, used as a surname and given name.As a surname, it may refer to:* Karl Radek , Bolshevik and international Communist leader* General Ivan Radek, communist terrorist leader of Kazakhstan in the Air Force One movie...

, strongly contested them. Their attitudes became known as the Zimmerwald Left. Lenin rejected both the defence of Russia and the cry for peace. Since the autumn of 1914 he had insisted that "from the standpoint of the working class and of the labouring masses from the lesser evil would be the defeat of the Tsarist Monarchy"; the war must be turned into a civil war of the proletarian soldiers against their own governments, and if a proletarian victory should emerge from this in Russia, then their duty would be to wage a revolutionary war for the liberation of the masses throughout Europe. Thus Lenin remained the enfant terrible of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party , also known as Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party or Russian Social Democratic Party, was a revolutionary socialist Russian political party formed in 1898 in Minsk to unite the various revolutionary organizations into one party...

, although in this point in the war his following in Russia was as little as 10 000 and he must have seemed no more than the leader of an extremist wing of a bankrupt organization. Lenin, however, then executed the protests of Petrograd which set off the 1917 Russian Revolution.

Economic and social changes


An elementary theory of property, believed by many peasants, was that land should belong to those who work it. At the same time, peasant life and culture was changing constantly. Change was facilitated by the physical movement of growing numbers of peasant villagers who migrated to and from industrial and urban environments, but also by the migration of city culture into the village through material goods, the press, and word of mouth.The scholarly literature on peasants is now very large. Major recent works that examine themes discussed above (and can serve as a guide to older scholarship) Christine Worobec, Peasant Russia: Family and Community in the Post Emancipation Period (Princeton, 1955); Frank and Steinberg, eds., Cultures in Flux (Princeton, 1994); Barbara Alpern Engel, Between the Fields and the City: Women, Work, and Family in Russia, 1861–1914 (Cambridge, 1994); Jeffrey Burds, Peasant Dreams and Market Politics (Pittsburgh, 1998); Stephen Frank, Crime, Cultural Conflict and Justice in Rural Russia, 1856–1914 (Berkeley, 1999).

Workers also had good reasons for discontent: overcrowded housing with often deplorable sanitary conditions, long hours at work (on the eve of the war a 10-hour workday six days a week was the average and many were working 11–12 hours a day by 1916), constant risk of injury and death from very poor safety and sanitary conditions, harsh discipline (not only rules and fines, but foremen’s fists), and inadequate wages (made worse after 1914 by steep war-time increases in the cost of living). At the same time, urban industrial life was full of benefits, though these could be just as dangerous, from the point of view of social and political stability, as the hardships. There were many encouragements to expect more from life. Acquiring new skills gave many workers a sense of self-respect and confidence, heightening expectations and desires. Living in cities, workers encountered material goods such as they had never seen while in the village. Most important, living in cities, they were exposed to new ideas about the social and political order.Among the many scholarly works on Russian workers, see especially Reginald Zelnik, Labor and Society in Tsarist Russia: The Factory Workers of St. Petersburg, 1855–1870 (Stanford, 1971); Victoria Bonnell, Roots of Rebellion: Workers’ Politics and Organizations in St. Petersburg and Moscow, 1900–1914 (Berkeley, 1983).

The social causes of the Russian Revolution mainly came from centuries of oppression of the lower classes by the Tsarist regime, and Nicholas's failures in World War I. While rural agrarian peasants had been emancipated from serfdom
Serfdom
Serfdom is the status of peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to Manorialism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted to the mid-19th century...

 in 1861, they still resented paying redemption payments to the state, and demanded communal tender of the land they worked. The problem was further compounded by the failure of Sergei Witte
Sergei Witte
Count Sergei Yulyevich Witte , also known as Sergius Witte, was a highly influential policy-maker who presided over extensive industrialization within the Russian Empire. He served under the last two emperors of Russia...

's land reforms of the early 1900s. Increasing peasant disturbances and sometimes full revolts occurred, with the goal of securing ownership of the land they worked. Russia consisted mainly of poor farming peasants, with 1.5% of the population owning 25% of the land.

The rapid industrialization of Russia also resulted in urban overcrowding and poor conditions for urban industrial workers (as mentioned above). Between 1890 and 1910, the population of the capital, Saint Petersburg, swelled from 1,033,600 to 1,905,600, with Moscow experiencing similar growth. This created a new 'proletariat' which, due to being crowded together in the cities, was much more likely to protest and go on strike than the peasantry had been in previous times. In one 1904 survey, it was found that an average of sixteen people shared each apartment in Saint Petersburg, with six people per room. There was also no running water, and piles of human waste were a threat to the health of the workers. The poor conditions only aggravated the situation, with the number of strikes and incidents of public disorder rapidly increasing in the years shortly before World War I. Because of late industrialization, Russia's workers were highly concentrated. By 1914 40% of Russian workers were employed in factories of +1,000 workers (32% in 1901). 42% worked in 100-1,000 worker enterprises, 18% in 1-100 worker businesses (in the USA, 1914, the figures were 18, 47 and 35 respectively).

World War I only added to the chaos. Conscription swept up the unwilling in all parts of Russia. The vast demand for factory production of war supplies and workers caused many more labor riots and strikes. Conscription stripped skilled workers from the cities, who had to be replaced with unskilled peasants, and then, when famine began to hit due to the poor railway system, workers abandoned the cities in droves to look for food. Finally, the soldiers themselves, who suffered from a lack of equipment and protection from the elements, began to turn against the Tsar. This was mainly because, as the war progressed, many of the officers who were loyal to the Tsar were killed, and were replaced by discontented conscripts from the major cities, who had little loyalty to the Tsar.

Political issues


Many sections of the crown had reason to be dissatisfied with the existing autocracy. Nicholas II was a deeply conservative ruler and maintained a strict authoritarian system. Individuals and society in general were expected to show self-restraint, devotion to community, deference to the social hierarchy, and a sense of duty to country. Religious faith helped bind all of these tenets together as a source of comfort and reassurance in the face of difficult conditions and as a means of political authority exercised through the clergy. Perhaps more than any other modern monarch, Nicholas II attached his fate and the future of his dynasty to the notion of the ruler as a saintly and infallible father to his people.

This idealized vision of the Romanov monarchy blinded him to the actual state of his country. With a firm belief that his power to rule was granted by Divine Right, Nicholas assumed that the Russian people were devoted to him with unquestioning loyalty. This ironclad belief rendered Nicholas unwilling to allow the progressive reforms that might have alleviated the suffering of the Russian people. Even after the 1905 revolution spurred the Tsar to decree limited civil rights and democratic representation, he worked to limit even these liberties in order to preserve the ultimate authority of the crown.

Despite constant oppression, the desire of the people for democratic participation in government was strong. Since the Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

, Russian intellectuals had promoted Enlightenment ideals such as the dignity of the individual and of the rectitude of democratic representation. These ideals were championed most vociferously by Russia’s liberals, although populists, Marxists, and anarchists also claimed to support democratic reforms. A growing opposition movement had begun to challenge the Romanov monarchy openly well before the turmoil of World War I.

Dissatisfaction with Russian autocracy culminated in the huge national upheaval that followed the Bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday (1905)
Bloody Sunday was a massacre on in St. Petersburg, Russia, where unarmed, peaceful demonstrators marching to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II were gunned down by the Imperial Guard while approaching the city center and the Winter Palace from several gathering points. The shooting did not...

 massacre of January 1905, in which hundreds of unarmed protesters were shot by the Tsar's troops. Workers responded to the massacre with a crippling general strike, forcing Nicholas to put forth the October Manifesto
October Manifesto
The October Manifesto was issued on 17 October, 1905 by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia under the influence of Count Sergei Witte as a response to the Russian Revolution of 1905....

, which established a democratically elected parliament (the State Duma). The Tsar undermined this promise of reform but a year later with Article 87 of the 1906 Fundamental State Laws
Russian Constitution of 1906
The Russian Constitution of 1906 refers to a major revision of the 1832 Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire, which transformed the formerly absolutist state into one in which the emperor agreed for the first time to share his autocratic power with a parliament. It was enacted on April 23, 1906,...

, and subsequently dismissed the first two Dumas when they proved uncooperative. Unfulfilled hopes of democracy fueled revolutionary ideas and violent outbursts targeted at the monarchy.

One of the Tsar’s principal rationales for risking war in 1914 was his desire to restore the prestige that Russia had lost amid the debacles of the Russo-Japanese war
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

. Nicholas also sought to foster a greater sense of national unity with a war against a common and ancient enemy. The Russian Empire was an agglomeration of diverse ethnicities that had shown significant signs of disunity in the years before the First World War. Nicholas believed in part that the shared peril and tribulation of a foreign war would mitigate the social unrest over the persistent issues of poverty, inequality, and inhuman working conditions. Instead of restoring Russia's political and military standing, World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 led to the horrifying slaughter of Russian troops and military defeats that undermined both the monarchy and society in general to the point of collapse.

World War I


The outbreak of war in August 1914 initially served to quiet the prevalent social and political protests, focusing hostilities against a common external enemy, but this patriotic unity did not last long. As the war dragged on inconclusively, war-weariness gradually took its toll. More important, though, was this deeper fragility: although many ordinary Russians joined anti-German demonstrations in the first few weeks of the war, the most widespread reaction appears to have been skepticism and fatalism. Hostility toward the Kaiser and the desire to defend their land and their lives did not necessarily translate into enthusiasm for the Tsar or the government.

Russia's first major battle of the war was a disaster: in the 1914 Battle of Tannenberg
Battle of Tannenberg (1914)
The Battle of Tannenberg was an engagement between the Russian Empire and the German Empire in the first days of World War I. It was fought by the Russian First and Second Armies against the German Eighth Army between 23 August and 30 August 1914. The battle resulted in the almost complete...

, over 30,000 Russian troops were killed or wounded and 90,000 captured, while Germany suffered just 20,000 casualties. However, Austro-Hungarian
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 forces allied to Germany were driven back deep into the Galicia region by the end of the year. In the autumn of 1915, Nicholas had taken direct command of the army, personally overseeing Russia's main theatre of war and leaving his ambitious but incapable wife Alexandra in charge of the government. Reports of corruption and incompetence in the Imperial government began to emerge, and the growing influence of Grigori Rasputin
Grigori Rasputin
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was a Russian Orthodox Christian and mystic who is perceived as having influenced the latter days of the Russian Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, and their only son Alexei...

 in the Imperial family was widely resented. In the eyes of Lynch, a revisionist historian who focuses on the role of the people, Rasputin was a "fatal disease" to the Tsarist regime.

In 1915, things took a critical turn for the worse when Germany shifted its focus of attack to the Eastern front. The superior German army — better led, better trained and better supplied — was terrifyingly effective against the ill-equipped Russian forces, driving the Russians out of Galicia, as well as Russian Poland, during the Gorlice–Tarnów Offensive campaign. By the end of October 1916, Russia had lost between 1,600,000 and 1,800,000 soldiers, with an additional 2,000,000 prisoners of war and 1,000,000 missing, all making up a total of nearly 5,000,000 men.

These staggering losses played a definite role in the Mutinies that began to occur and, in 1916, reports of fraternizing with the enemy started to circulate. Soldiers went hungry, and lacked shoes, munitions, and even weapons. Rampant discontent lowered morale, which was further undermined by a series of military defeats.

Casualty rates were the most vivid sign of this disaster. Already, by the end of 1914, only five months into the war, around 390,000 Russian men had lost their lives and nearly 1,000,000 were injured. Far sooner than expected, scarcely trained recruits had to be called up for active duty, a process repeated throughout the war as staggering losses continued to mount. The officer class also saw remarkable turnover, especially within the lower echelons, which were quickly filled with soldiers rising up through the ranks. These men, usually of peasant or worker backgrounds, were to play a large role in the politicization of the troops in 1917.

The huge losses on the battlefields were not limited to men. The army quickly ran short of rifles and ammunition (as well as uniforms and food), and, by mid-1915, men were being sent to the front bearing no arms. It was hoped that they could equip themselves with the arms that they recovered from fallen soldiers, of both sides, on the battlefields. With patently good reason, the soldiers did not feel that they were being treated as human beings, or even as valuable soldiers, but rather as raw materials to be squandered for the purposes of the rich and powerful.

By the spring of 1915, the army was in steady retreat, which was not always orderly; desertion, plunder and chaotic flight were not uncommon. By 1916, however, the situation had improved in many respects. Russian troops stopped retreating, and there were even some modest successes in the offensives that were staged that year, albeit at great loss of life. Also, the problem of shortages was largely solved by a major effort to increase domestic production. Nevertheless, by the end of 1916, morale among soldiers was even worse than it had been during the great retreat of 1915. The fortunes of war may have improved, but the fact of the war, still draining away strength and lives from the country and its many individuals and families, remained an oppressive inevitability. The crisis in morale (as was argued by Allan Wildman, a leading historian of the Russian army in war and revolution) "was rooted fundamentally in the feeling of utter despair that the slaughter would ever end and that anything resembling victory could be achieved."

The war devastated not only soldiers. By the end of 1915, there were manifold signs that the economy was breaking down under the heightened strain of wartime demand. The main problems were food shortages and rising prices. Inflation shoved real incomes down at an alarmingly rapid rate, and shortages made it difficult to buy even what one could afford. These shortages were especially a problem in the capital, St. Petersburg, where distance from supplies and poor transportation networks made matters particularly bad. Shops closed early or entirely for lack of bread, sugar, meat and other provisions, and lines lengthened massively for what remained. It became increasingly difficult both to afford and actually buy food.

Not surprisingly, strikes increased steadily from the middle of 1915, and so did crime; but, for the most part, people suffered and endured, scouring the city for food. Working-class women in St. Petersburg reportedly spent about forty hours a week in food lines, begging, turning to prostitution or crime, tearing down wooden fences to keep stoves heated for warmth, grumbling about the rich, and wondering when and how this would all come to an end.

Government officials responsible for public order worried about how long the people's patience would last. A report by the St. Petersburg branch of the security police, the Okhrana, in October 1916, warned bluntly of "the possibility in the near future of riots by the lower classes of the empire enraged by the burdens of daily existence."

Nicholas was blamed for all of these crises, and what little support he had left began to crumble. As discontent grew, the State Duma
State Duma
The State Duma , common abbreviation: Госду́ма ) in the Russian Federation is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia , the upper house being the Federation Council of Russia. The Duma headquarters is located in central Moscow, a few steps from Manege Square. Its members are referred to...

 issued a warning to Nicholas in November 1916. It stated that, inevitably, a terrible disaster would grip the country unless a constitutional form of government was put in place. In typical fashion, however, Nicholas ignored them, and Russia's Tsarist regime collapsed a few months later during the February Revolution of 1917. One year later, the Tsar and his entire family were executed. Ultimately, Nicholas's inept handling of his country and the War destroyed the Tsars and ended up costing him both his rule and his life.

February Revolution


At the beginning of February, Petrograd workers began several strikes
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 and demonstrations
Demonstration (people)
A demonstration or street protest is action by a mass group or collection of groups of people in favor of a political or other cause; it normally consists of walking in a mass march formation and either beginning with or meeting at a designated endpoint, or rally, to hear speakers.Actions such as...

. On , workers at Putilov, Petrograd's largest industrial plant, announced a strike.

The next day, a series of meetings and rallies were held for International Women's Day
International Women's Day
International Women's Day , originally called International Working Women’s Day, is marked on March 8 every year. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and...

, which gradually turned into economic and political gatherings. Demonstrations were organised to demand bread
Bread
Bread is a staple food prepared by cooking a dough of flour and water and often additional ingredients. Doughs are usually baked, but in some cuisines breads are steamed , fried , or baked on an unoiled frying pan . It may be leavened or unleavened...

, and these were supported by the industrial working force who considered them a reason for continuing the strikes. The women workers marched to nearby factories bringing out over 50,000 workers on strike. By , virtually every industrial enterprise in Petrograd had been shut down, together with many commercial and service enterprises. Students, white-collar workers and teachers joined the workers in the streets and at public meetings.

To quell the riots, the Tsar looked to the army. At least 180,000 troops were available in the capital, but most were either untrained or injured. Historian Ian Beckett suggests around 12,000 could be regarded as reliable, but even these proved reluctant to move in on the crowd, since it included so many women. It was for this reason that when, on , the Tsar ordered the army to suppress the rioting by force, troops began to mutiny. Although few actively joined the rioting, many officers were either shot or went into hiding; the ability of the garrison to hold back the protests was all but nullified, symbols of the Tsarist were rapidly torn down around the city, and governmental authority in the capital collapsed – not helped by the fact that Nicholas had prorogued the Duma that morning, leaving it with no legal authority to act. The response of the Duma, urged on by the liberal bloc, was to establish a Temporary Committee to restore law and order; meanwhile, the socialist parties establish the Petrograd Soviet to represent workers and soldiers. The remaining loyal units switched allegiance the next day.

The Tsar took a train back towards Petrograd, which was stopped on , having been instructed to divert by a group of disloyal troops. When the Tsar finally reached his destination, the Army Chiefs and his remaining ministers (those who had not fled under pretense of a power-cut) suggested in unison that he abdicate the throne. He did so on , on behalf of himself, and then, having taken advice, on behalf of his son, the Tsarevich. Nicholas nominated his brother, the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich
Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia
Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia was the youngest son of Emperor Alexander III of Russia.At the time of his birth, his paternal grandfather was still the reigning Emperor of All the Russias. Michael was fourth-in-line to the throne following his father and elder brothers Nicholas and...

, to succeed him. But the Grand Duke realised that he would have little support as ruler, so he declined the crown on , stating that he would take it only if that was the consensus of democratic action. Six days later, Nicholas, no longer Tsar and addressed with contempt by the sentries as "Nicholas Romanov", was reunited with his family at the Alexander Palace
Alexander Palace
The Alexander Palace is a former imperial residence at Tsarskoye Selo, on a plateau around 30 minutes by train from St Petersburg. It is known as the favourite residence of the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II, and his family and their initial place of imprisonment after the revolution that...

 at Tsarskoe Selo. He was placed under house arrest
House arrest
In justice and law, house arrest is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to his or her residence. Travel is usually restricted, if allowed at all...

 with his family by the Provisional Government.

The immediate effect of the February Revolution was a widespread atmosphere of elation and excitement in Petrograd. On , a provisional government
Russian Provisional Government
The Russian Provisional Government was the short-lived administrative body which sought to govern Russia immediately following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II . On September 14, the State Duma of the Russian Empire was officially dissolved by the newly created Directorate, and the country was...

 was announced. The center-left was well represented, and the government was initially chaired by a liberal aristocrat, Prince Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov, a member of the Constitutional Democratic party
Constitutional Democratic party
The Constitutional Democratic Party was a liberal political party in the Russian Empire. Party members were called Kadets, from the abbreviation K-D of the party name...

 (KD). The socialists had formed their rival body, the Petrograd Soviet
Petrograd Soviet
The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies , usually called the Petrograd Soviet , was the soviet in Petrograd , Russia, established in March 1917 after the February Revolution as the representative body of the city's workers.The Petrograd Soviet became important during the Russian...

 (or workers' council) four days earlier. The Petrograd Soviet and the Provisional Government competed for power over Russia.

Between February and throughout October: "Dual Power" (dvoevlastie)


The effective power of the Provisional Government was challenged by the authority of an institution that claimed to represent the will of workers and soldiers and could, in fact, mobilize and control these groups during the early months of the revolution — the Petrograd Soviet [Council] of Workers' Deputies. The model for the soviet were workers' councils that had been established in scores of Russian cities during the 1905 revolution. In February 1917, striking workers elected deputies to represent them and socialist activists began organizing a citywide council to unite these deputies with representatives of the socialist parties. On 27 February, socialist Duma deputies, mainly Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

s and Socialist Revolutionaries, took the lead in organizing a citywide council. The Petrograd Soviet met in the Tauride Palace
Tauride Palace
Tauride Palace is one of the largest and most historic palaces in Saint Petersburg, Russia.- Potemkin :...

, the same building where the new government was taking shape.

The leaders of the Petrograd Soviet believed that they represented particular classes of the population, not the whole nation. They also believed Russia was not ready for socialism. So they saw their role as limited to pressuring hesitant "bourgeoisie" to rule and to introduce extensive democratic reforms in Russia (the replacement of the monarchy by a republic, guaranteed civil rights, a democratic police and army, abolition of religious and ethnic discrimination, preparation of
elections to a constituent assembly, and so on). They met in the same building as the emerging Provisional Government not to compete with the Duma Committee for state power but to best exert pressure on the new government, to act, in other words, as a popular democratic lobby.


The relationship between these two major powers was complex from the beginning and would shape the politics of 1917. The representatives of the Provisional Government agreed to "take into account the opinions of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies," though they were also determined to prevent "interference in the actions of the government," which would create "an unacceptable situation of dual power." In fact, this was precisely what was being created, though this "dual power" (dvoevlastie) was the result less of the actions or attitudes of the leaders of these two institutions than of actions outside their control, especially the ongoing social movement taking place on the streets of Russia’s cities, in factories and shops, in barracks and in the trenches, and in the villages.

A series of political crises — see the chronology below — in the relationship between population and government and between the Provisional government and the soviets (which developed into a nationwide movement with a national leadership, The All-Russian Central Executive Committee of Soviets (VTsIK)) undermined the authority of the Provisional Government but also of the moderate socialist leaders of the Soviet. Although the Soviet leadership initially refused to participate in the "bourgeois" Provisional Government, Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

, a young and popular lawyer and a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party (SRP), agreed to join the new cabinet, and became an increasingly central figure in the government, eventually taking leadership of the Provisional Government. As minister of war and later Prime Minister, Kerensky promoted freedom of speech, released thousands of political prisoners, did his very best to continue the war effort and even organised another offensive (which, however, was no more successful than its predecessors). Nevertheless, Kerensky still faced several great challenges, highlighted by the soldiers, urban workers and peasants, who claimed that they had gained nothing by the revolution:
  • Other political groups were trying to undermine him.
  • Heavy military losses were being suffered on the front.
  • The soldiers were dissatisfied, demoralised and had started to defect. (On arrival back in Russia, these soldiers were either imprisoned or sent straight back into the front.)
  • There was enormous discontent with Russia's involvement in the war, and many were calling for an end to it.
  • There were great shortages of food and supplies, which was difficult to remedy because of the wartime economic conditions.


The political group that proved most troublesome for Kerensky, and would eventually overthrow him, was the Bolshevik Party, led by Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

. Lenin had been living in exile in neutral Switzerland and, due to democratization of politics after the February Revolution, which legalized formerly banned political parties, he perceived the opportunity for his Marxist revolution. Although return to Russia had become a possibility, the war made it logistically difficult. Eventually, German officials arranged for Lenin to pass through their territory, hoping that his activities would weaken Russia or even — if the Bolsheviks came to power — lead to Russia's withdrawal from the war. Lenin and his associates, however, had to agree to travel to Russia in a sealed train: Germany would not take the chance that he would foment revolution in Germany. After passing through the front, he arrived in Petrograd in April 1917.

With Lenin's arrival, the popularity of the Bolsheviks increased steadily. Over the course of the spring, public dissatisfaction with the Provisional Government and the war, in particular among workers, soldiers and peasants, pushed these groups to radical parties. Despite growing support for the Bolsheviks, buoyed by maxims that called most famously for "all power to the Soviets," the party held very little real power in the moderate dominated Petrograd Soviet. In fact, historians such as Sheila Fitzpatrick have asserted that Lenin's exhortations for the Soviet Council to take power were intended to arouse indignation both with the Provisional Government, whose policies were viewed as conservative, and the Soviet itself, which was viewed as subservient to the conservative government. By most historians' accounts, Lenin and his followers were unprepared for how their groundswell of support, especially among influential worker and soldier groups, would translate into real power in the summer of 1917.

On 18 June, the Provisional Government launched an attack against Germany that failed miserably. Soon after, the government ordered soldiers to go to the front, reneging on a promise. The soldiers refused to follow the new orders. The arrival of radical Kronstadt
Kronstadt
Kronstadt , also spelled Kronshtadt, Cronstadt |crown]]" and Stadt for "city"); is a municipal town in Kronshtadtsky District of the federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia, located on Kotlin Island, west of Saint Petersburg proper near the head of the Gulf of Finland. Population: It is also...

 sailors — who had tried and executed many officers, including one admiral — further fueled the growing revolutionary atmosphere. The sailors and soldiers, along with Petrograd workers, took to the streets in violent protest, calling for "all power to the Soviets." The revolt, however, was disowned by Lenin and the Bolshevik leaders and dissipated within a few days. In the aftermath, Lenin fled to Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 under threat of arrest while Trotsky, among other prominent Bolsheviks, was arrested. The July Days
July Days
The July Days refers to events in 1917 that took place in Petrograd, Russia, between 3 July and 7 July , when soldiers and industrial workers engaged in spontaneous demonstrations against the Russian Provisional Government...

 confirmed the popularity of the anti-war, radical Bolsheviks, but their unpreparedness at the moment of revolt was an embarrassing gaffe that lost them support among their main constituent groups: soldiers and workers.

The Bolshevik failure in the July Days proved temporary. In August, poor or misleading, communication led General Lavr Kornilov
Lavr Kornilov
Lavr Georgiyevich Kornilov was a military intelligence officer, explorer, and general in the Imperial Russian Army during World War I and the ensuing Russian Civil War...

, the recently appointed Supreme Commander of Russian military forces, to believe that the Petrograd government had been captured by radicals, or was in serious danger thereof. In response, he ordered troops to Petrograd to pacify the city. To secure his position, Kerensky had to ask for Bolshevik assistance. He also sought help from the Petrograd Soviet, which called upon armed Red Guards to "defend the revolution." This Kornilov Affair
Kornilov Affair
The Kornilov Affair, or the Kornilov Putsch as it is sometimes referred to, was an attempted coup d'état by the then Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army, General Lavr Kornilov, in August 1917 against the Russian Provisional Government headed by Alexander Kerensky.-Background:Following the...

 failed largely due to the efforts of the Bolsheviks, whose influence over railroad and telegraph workers proved vital in stopping the movement of troops. With his coup failing, Kornilov surrendered and was relieved of his position. The Bolsheviks' role in stopping the attempted coup immensely strengthened their position.

In early September, the Petrograd Soviet freed all jailed Bolsheviks and Trotsky became chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. Growing numbers of socialists and lower-class Russians viewed the government less and less as a force in support of their needs and interests. The Bolsheviks benefited as the only major organized opposition party that had refused to compromise with the Provisional Government, and they benefited from growing frustration and even disgust with other parties, such as the Mensheviks and SRs, who stubbornly refused to break with the idea of national unity across all classes.

In Finland, Lenin had worked on his book State and Revolution
State and Revolution
The State and Revolution , by Vladimir Lenin, describes the role of the State in society, the necessity of proletarian revolution, and the theoretic inadequacies of social democracy in achieving revolution to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.Citing Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, Lenin...

and continued to lead his party writing newspaper articles and policy decrees. By October, he returned to Petrograd, aware that the increasingly radical city presented him no legal danger and a second opportunity for revolution. The Bolshevik Central Committee drafted a resolution, calling for the dissolution of the Provisional Government in favor of the Petrograd Soviet. The resolution was passed 10–2 (Lev Kamenev
Lev Kamenev
Lev Borisovich Kamenev , born Rozenfeld , was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a prominent Soviet politician. He was briefly head of state of the new republic in 1917, and from 1923-24 the acting Premier in the last year of Lenin's life....

 and Grigory Zinoviev
Grigory Zinoviev
Grigory Yevseevich Zinoviev , born Ovsei-Gershon Aronovich Radomyslsky Apfelbaum , was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a Soviet Communist politician...

 prominently dissenting) and the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 began.

October Revolution




The October Revolution was led by Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

 and was based upon Lenin's writing on the ideas of Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, a political ideology often known as Marxism-Leninism
Marxism-Leninism
Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology, officially based upon the theories of Marxism and Vladimir Lenin, that promotes the development and creation of a international communist society through the leadership of a vanguard party over a revolutionary socialist state that represents a dictatorship...

. It marked the beginning of the spread of communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 in the twentieth century. It was far less sporadic than the revolution of February and came about as the result of deliberate planning and coordinated activity to that end.

Though Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik Party, it has been argued that since Lenin was not present during the actual takeover of the Winter Palace, it was really Trotsky's
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

 organization and direction that led the bloody revolution, spurred by the motivation Lenin instigated within his party. Critics on the Right have long argued that the financial and logistical assistance of German intelligence via their key agent, Alexander Parvus
Alexander Parvus
Alexander Lvovich Parvus , born Israel Lazarevich Gelfand , was a Marxist theoretician, a Russian revolutionary, and a controversial activist in the Social Democratic Party of Germany...

 was a key component as well, though historians are divided, for the evidence is sparse.

On 7 November 1917, Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 leader Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

 led his leftist revolutionaries in a revolt against the ineffective Provisional Government (Russia was still using the Julian Calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 at the time, so period references show a 25 October date). The October revolution ended the phase of the revolution instigated in February, replacing Russia's short-lived provisional parliamentary government with government by soviets
Soviet (council)
Soviet was a name used for several Russian political organizations. Examples include the Czar's Council of Ministers, which was called the “Soviet of Ministers”; a workers' local council in late Imperial Russia; and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union....

, local councils elected by bodies of workers and peasants. Liberal and monarchist forces, loosely organized into the White Army, immediately went to war against the Bolsheviks' Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

.

Soviet membership was initially freely elected, but many members of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

, anarchists, and other leftists opposed the Bolsheviks through the soviets. When it became clear that the Bolsheviks had little support outside of the industrialized areas of Saint Petersburg and Moscow, they barred non-Bolsheviks from membership in the soviets. Other socialists revolted and called for "a third Russian revolution." The most notable instances were the Tambov rebellion
Tambov Rebellion
The Tambov Rebellion which occurred between 1920 and 1921 was one of the largest and best-organized peasant rebellions challenging the Bolshevik regime during the Russian Civil War. The uprising took place in the territories of the modern Tambov Oblast and part of the Voronezh Oblast, less than...

, 1919–1921, and the Kronstadt rebellion
Kronstadt rebellion
The Kronstadt rebellion was one of many major unsuccessful left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks in the aftermath of the Russian Civil War...

 in March 1921. These movements, which made a wide range of demands and lacked effective coordination, were eventually defeated along with the White Army during the Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

.

Civil war



The Russian Civil War, which broke out in 1918 shortly after the revolution, brought death and suffering to millions of people regardless of their political orientation. The war was fought mainly between the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 ("Reds"), consisting of the uprising majority, and the "Whites"
White movement
The White movement and its military arm the White Army - known as the White Guard or the Whites - was a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces.The movement comprised one of the politico-military Russian forces who fought...

 — the monarchists, conservatives, liberals and moderate socialists who opposed the drastic restructuring championed by the Bolsheviks. The Whites had backing from nations such as Great Britain, France, USA and Japan.

Also during the Civil War, Nestor Makhno
Nestor Makhno
Nestor Ivanovych Makhno or simply Daddy Makhno was a Ukrainian anarcho-communist guerrilla leader turned army commander who led an independent anarchist army in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War....

 led a Ukrainian anarchist movement, the Black Army
Black Army
Black Army can refer to several different groups and affiliations:* Several anarchist factions of the Russian Civil War, also known as the Black Guards* Black Army of Hungary was the name of the royal army of Matthias Corvinus, a 15th century king of Hungary...

 allied to the Bolsheviks thrice, one of the powers ending the alliance each time. However, a Bolshevik force under Mikhail Frunze
Mikhail Frunze
Mikhail Vasilyevich Frunze was a Bolshevik leader during and just prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917.-Life and Political Activity:Frunze was born in Bishkek, then a small Imperial Russian garrison town in the Kyrgyz part of Turkestan, to a Moldovan medical practitioner and his Russian wife...

 destroyed the Makhnovist movement, when the Makhnovists refused to merge into the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

. In addition, the so-called "Green Army" (peasants defending their property against the opposing forces) played a secondary role in the war, mainly in the Ukraine.

Death of the imperial family



In early March, the Provisional Government placed Nicholas and his family under house arrest in the Alexander Palace
Alexander Palace
The Alexander Palace is a former imperial residence at Tsarskoye Selo, on a plateau around 30 minutes by train from St Petersburg. It is known as the favourite residence of the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II, and his family and their initial place of imprisonment after the revolution that...

 at Tsarskoe Selo, 15 miles (24 km) south of Petrograd. In August 1917 the Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

 government evacuated the Romanovs to Tobolsk
Tobolsk
Tobolsk is a town in Tyumen Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Tobol and Irtysh Rivers. It is a historic capital of Siberia. Population: -History:...

 in the Urals, allegedly to protect them from the rising tide of revolution during the Red Terror
Red Terror
The Red Terror in Soviet Russia was the campaign of mass arrests and executions conducted by the Bolshevik government. In Soviet historiography, the Red Terror is described as having been officially announced on September 2, 1918 by Yakov Sverdlov and ended about October 1918...

. After the Bolsheviks came to power in October 1917, the conditions of their imprisonment grew stricter and talk of putting Nicholas on trial increased. As the counter revolutionary White movement gathered force, leading to full-scale civil war by the summer, the Romanovs were moved during April and May 1918 to Yekaterinburg
Yekaterinburg
Yekaterinburg is a major city in the central part of Russia, the administrative center of Sverdlovsk Oblast. Situated on the eastern side of the Ural mountain range, it is the main industrial and cultural center of the Urals Federal District with a population of 1,350,136 , making it Russia's...

, a militant Bolshevik stronghold.

During the early morning of 16 July, at approximately 01:30, Nicholas, Alexandra, their children, their physician, and several servants were taken into the basement and killed. According to Edvard Radzinsky and Dmitrii Volkogonov, the order came directly from Vladimir Lenin and Yakov Sverdlov in Moscow. That the order came from the top has long been believed, although there is a lack of hard evidence. It has been argued that the execution was carried out on the initiative of local Bolshevik officials, or that it was an option approved in Moscow should White troops approach Yekaterinburg. Radzinsky noted that Lenin's bodyguard personally delivered the telegram ordering the execution and that he was ordered to destroy the evidence.

The Russian revolution and the world


Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

 said that the goal of socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 in Russia would not be realized without the success of the world revolution
World revolution
World revolution is the Marxist concept of overthrowing capitalism in all countries through the conscious revolutionary action of the organized working class...

. Indeed, a revolutionary wave
Revolutionary wave
A revolutionary wave is a series of revolutions occurring in various locations in a similar time period. In many cases, an initial revolution inspires other "affiliate revolutions" with similar aims....

 caused by the Russian Revolution lasted until 1923
Revolutions of 1917-23
The Revolutions of 1917–23 formed a revolutionary wave precipitated by the end of World War I in general and the Russian Revolutions of 1917 in particular. Some authorities date the wave as ending in 1919 or 1921.-Russia:...

. Despite initial hopes for success in the German Revolution of 1918–1919, in the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic
Hungarian Soviet Republic
The Hungarian Soviet Republic or Soviet Republic of Hungary was a short-lived Communist state established in Hungary in the aftermath of World War I....

 and others like it, no other Marxist movement succeeded in keeping power in its hands.

This issue is subject to conflicting views on the communist history by various Marxist groups and parties. Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 later rejected this idea, stating that socialism was possible in one country
Socialism in One Country
Socialism in One Country was a theory put forth by Joseph Stalin in 1924, elaborated by Nikolai Bukharin in 1925 and finally adopted as state policy by Stalin...

.

The confusion regarding Stalin's position on the issue stems from the fact that he, after Lenin's death in 1924, successfully used Lenin's argument — the argument that socialism's success needs the workers of other countries in order to happen — to defeat his competitors within the party by accusing them of betraying Lenin and, therefore, the ideals of the October Revolution.

Chronology of events leading to the Revolution of 1917


Dates are correct for the Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

, which was used in Russia until 1918. It was twelve days behind the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

 during the 19th century and thirteen days behind it during the 20th century.

Date(s) Event(s)
1855 Start of reign of Tsar Alexander II
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

.
1861 Emancipation of the serfs.
1874–81 Growing anti-government terrorist movement and government reaction.
1881 Alexander II assassinated by revolutionaries; succeeded by Alexander III
Alexander III of Russia
Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov , historically remembered as Alexander III or Alexander the Peacemaker reigned as Emperor of Russia from until his death on .-Disposition:...

.
1883 First Russian Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 group formed.
1894 Start of reign of Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

.
1898 First Congress of Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party , also known as Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party or Russian Social Democratic Party, was a revolutionary socialist Russian political party formed in 1898 in Minsk to unite the various revolutionary organizations into one party...

 (RSDLP).
1900 Foundation of Socialist Revolutionary Party (SR).
1903 Second Congress of Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Beginning of split between Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

s and Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

s.
1904–5 Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

; Russia loses war.
1905 Russian Revolution of 1905
Russian Revolution of 1905
The 1905 Russian Revolution was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire. Some of it was directed against the government, while some was undirected. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies...

.
  • January: Bloody Sunday in Saint Petersburg
    Saint Petersburg
    Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

    .
  • June: Battleship Potemkin uprising at Odessa
    Odessa
    Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

     on the Black Sea
    Black Sea
    The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

     (see movie The Battleship Potemkin
    The Battleship Potemkin
    The Battleship Potemkin , sometimes rendered as The Battleship Potyomkin, is a 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein and produced by Mosfilm...

    ).
  • October: general strike, Saint Petersburg Soviet formed; October Manifesto
    October Manifesto
    The October Manifesto was issued on 17 October, 1905 by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia under the influence of Count Sergei Witte as a response to the Russian Revolution of 1905....

    : Imperial agreement on elections to the State Duma
    Duma
    A Duma is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. Simply it is a form of Russian governmental institution, that was formed during the reign of the...

    .
1906 First State Duma
Duma
A Duma is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. Simply it is a form of Russian governmental institution, that was formed during the reign of the...

. Prime Minister: Petr Stolypin. Agrarian reforms begin.
1907 Second State Duma, February–June.
1907 Third State Duma, until 1912.
1911 Stolypin assassinated.
1912 Fourth State Duma, until 1917. Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

/Menshevik
Menshevik
The Mensheviks were a faction of the Russian revolutionary movement that emerged in 1904 after a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, both members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The dispute originated at the Second Congress of that party, ostensibly over minor issues...

 split final.
1914 Germany declares war on Russia.
1915 Serious defeats, Nicholas II declares himself Commander in Chief.
1916 Food and fuel shortages and high prices. Progressive Bloc
Progressive Bloc (Russia)
Progressive Bloc was an alliance of political forces in the Russian Empire. It was formed when the State Duma of the Russian Empire was recalled to session during World War I, the response of Nicholas II of Russia to mounting social tensions...

 formed.
1917 Strikes, mutinies, street demonstrations lead to the fall of autocracy.

Timeline 1914–1916


1914
  • 30 July: The All Russian Zemstvo Union for the Relief of Sick and Wounded Soldiers is created with Lvov as president.
  • August–November: Russia suffers heavy defeats and a large shortage of supplies, including food and munitions, but holds onto Austrian Galicia.
  • 3 August: Germany declares war on Russia, causing a brief sense of patriotic union amongst the Russian nation and a downturn in striking.
  • 18 August: St. Petersburg is renamed Petrograd as 'Germanic' names are changed to sound more Russian, and hence more patriotic.
  • 5 November: Bolshevik members of the Duma are arrested; they are later tried and exiled to Siberia.


1915
  • 19 February: Great Britain and France accept Russia's claims to Istanbul and other Turkish lands.
  • 5 June: Strikers shot at in Kostromá; casualties.
  • 9 July: The Great Retreat begins, as Russian forces pull back out of Galicia and Russian Poland into Russia proper.
  • 9 August: The Duma's bourgeois parties form the 'Progressive bloc' to push for better government and reform; includes the Kadets, Octobrist groups and Nationalists.
  • 10 August: Strikers shot at in Ivánovo-Voznesénsk; casualties.
  • 17 August-19th: Strikers in Petrograd protest at the deaths in Ivánovo-Voznesénsk.
  • 23 August: Reacting to war failures and a hostile Duma, the Tsar takes over as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, prorogues the Duma and moves to military headquarters at Mogilev. Central government begins to seize up.


1916
  • January–December: Despite successes in the Brusilov offensive, the Russian war effort is still characterised by shortages, poor command, death and desertion. Away from the front, the conflict causes starvation, inflation and a torrent of refugees. Both soldiers and civilians blame the incompetence of the Tsar and his government.
  • 6 February: Duma reconvened.
  • 29 February: After a month of strikes at the Putílov Factory, the government conscripts the workers and takes charge of production. Protest strikes follow.
  • 20 June: Duma prorogued.
  • October: Troops from 181st Regiment help striking Russkii Renault workers fight against the Police.
  • 1 November: Miliukov gives his 'Is this stupidity or treason?' speech in reconvened Duma.
  • 29 December: Rasputin is killed by Prince Yusupov.
  • 30 December: The Tsar is warned that his army will not support him against a revolution.

Expanded chronology of events during the Revolution of 1917

Gregorian Date Julian Date Event
January Strikes and unrest in Petrograd.
February February Revolution
February Revolution
The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

.
8 March 23 February International Women's Day: strikes and demonstrations in Petrograd, growing over the next few days.
11 March 26 February 50 demonstrators killed in Znamenskaya Square Tsar Nicholas II prorogues the State Duma and orders commander of Petrograd military district to suppress disorders with force.
12 March 27 February * Troops refuse to fire on demonstrators, deserters. Prisons, courts, and police bumbs attacked and looted by angry crowds.
  • Okhrana buildings set on fire. Garrison joins revolutionaries.
  • Petrograd Soviet formed.
  • Formation of Provisional Committee of the Duma by liberals from Constitutional Democratic Party (Kadets).
14 March 1 March Order No.1 of the Petrograd Soviet.
15 March 2 March Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

 abdicates. Provisional Government formed under Prime Minister Prince Lvov.
16 April 3 April Return of Lenin to Russia. He publishes his April Theses
Lenin's April Theses
The April Theses were a series of directives issued by the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin upon his return to Petrograd , Russia from his exile in Switzerland. The Theses were mostly aimed at fellow Bolsheviks in Russia and returning to Russia from exile...

.
3–4 May 20–21 April "April Days": mass demonstrations by workers, soldiers, and others in the streets of Petrograd and Moscow triggered by the publication of the Foreign Minister Miliukov's note
Miliukov note
The Milyukov note was an incident on the 20th of April 1917, one which resulted in the bolstering of support for the Bolsheviks in Russia, and a widespread mistrust of the Russian Provisional Government...

 to the allies, which was interpreted as affirming commitment to the war policies of the old government. First Provisional Government falls.
18 May 5 May First Coalition Government forms when socialists, representatives of the Soviet leadership, agree to enter the cabinet of the Provisional Government. Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

, the only socialist already in the government, made minister of war and navy.
16 June 3 June First All-Russian Congress of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies opens in Petrograd. Closed on 24 June. Elects Central Executive Committee of Soviets (VTsIK), headed by Mensheviks and SRs.
23 June 10 June Planned Bolshevik demonstration in Petrograd banned by the Soviet.
29 June 16 June Kerensky orders offensive against Austro-Hungarian forces. Initial success only.
1 July 18 June Official Soviet demonstration in Petrograd for unity is unexpectedly dominated by Bolshevik slogans: "Down with the Ten Capitalist Ministers", "All Power to the Soviets".
15 July 2 July Russian offensive ends. Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

 joins Bolsheviks.
16–17 July 3–4 July The "July Days
July Days
The July Days refers to events in 1917 that took place in Petrograd, Russia, between 3 July and 7 July , when soldiers and industrial workers engaged in spontaneous demonstrations against the Russian Provisional Government...

"; mass armed demonstrations in Petrograd, encouraged by the Bolsheviks, demanding "All Power to the Soviets".
19 July 6 July German and Austro-Hungarian
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 counter-attack. Russians retreat in panic, sacking the town of Tarnopol. Arrest of Bolshevik leaders ordered.
20 July 7 July Lvov resigns and asks Kerensky to become Prime Minister and form a new government. Established 25 July.
4 August 22 July Trotsky and Lunacharskii arrested.
8 September 26 August Second coalition government ends.
8–12 September 26–30 August "Kornilov mutiny". Begins when the commander-in-chief of the Russian army, General Lavr Kornilov, demands (or is believed by Kerensky to demand) that the government give him all civil and military authority and moves troops against Petrograd.
13 September 31 August Majority of deputies of the Petrograd Soviet approve a Bolshevik resolution for an all-socialist government excluding the bourgeoisie.
14 September 1 September Russia declared a republic.
17 September 4 September Trotsky and others freed.
18 September 5 September Bolshevik resolution on the government wins majority vote in Moscow Soviet.
2 October 19 September Moscow Soviet elects executive committee and new presidium, with Bolshevik majorities, and the Bolshevik Viktor Nogin
Viktor Nogin
Viktor Pavlovich Nogin was a prominent Bolshevik in Moscow, holding many high positions in the party and in government, including Chairman of the Moscow Military-Revolutionary Committee and Chairman of the Presidium of the Executive Committee of Moscow Council of Workers'...

 as chairman.
8 October 25 September Third coalition government formed. Bolshevik majority in Petrograd Soviet
Petrograd Soviet
The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies , usually called the Petrograd Soviet , was the soviet in Petrograd , Russia, established in March 1917 after the February Revolution as the representative body of the city's workers.The Petrograd Soviet became important during the Russian...

 elects Bolshevik Presidium and Trotsky as chairman.
23 October 10 October Bolshevik Central Committee meeting approves armed uprising.
24 October 11 October Congress of Soviets of the Northern Region, until 13 October.
2 November 20 October First meeting of the Military Revolutionary Committee
Military Revolutionary Committee
The Military Revolutionary Committee also known as the Milrevcom was the name for military organs under the soviets during the period of the Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War. The most notable ones were those of the Petrograd Soviet, the Moscow Soviet, and at Stavka.These committees were...

 of the Petrograd Soviet
Petrograd Soviet
The Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies , usually called the Petrograd Soviet , was the soviet in Petrograd , Russia, established in March 1917 after the February Revolution as the representative body of the city's workers.The Petrograd Soviet became important during the Russian...

.
7 November 25 October October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 is launched as MRC directs armed workers and soldiers to capture key buildings in Petrograd. Winter Palace
Winter Palace
The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and...

 attacked at 9:40pm and captured at 2am. Kerensky flees Petrograd. Opening of the 2nd All-Russian Congress of Soviets.
8 November 26 October Second Congress of Soviets: Mensheviks and right SR delegates walk out in protest against the previous day's events. Congress approves transfer of state authority into its own hands and local power into the hands of local soviets of workers', soldiers', and peasants' deputies, abolishes capital punishment, issues Decree on Peace
Decree on Peace
The Decree On Peace, written by Vladimir Lenin, was passed by the Second Congress of the Soviet of Workers', Soldiers', and Peasants' Deputies on the 26 October 1917, following the success of the October Revolution. It was published in the Izvestiya newspaper, #208, October 27, 1917...

 and Decree on Land
Decree on Land
The Decree on Land, written by Vladimir Lenin, was passed by the Second Congress of Soviets of Workers', Soldiers', and Peasants' Deputies on 26 October 1917, following the success of the October Revolution. It decreed an abolition of private property, and the redistribution of the landed estates...

, and approves the formation of an all-Bolshevik government, the Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom), with Lenin as chairman.

Cultural portrayal


The Russian Revolution has been portrayed in several film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

s.
  • Arsenal ' (IMDB profile). Written and directed by Aleksandr Dovzhenko.
  • Konets Sankt-Peterburga AKA The End of Saint Petersburg (IMDB profile).
  • Lenin v 1918 godu AKA Lenin in 1918 (IMDB profile). Directed by Mikhail Romm and E. Aron (co-director).
  • October: Ten Days That Shook the World (IMDB profile). Directed by Sergei Eisenstein
    Sergei Eisenstein
    Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein , né Eizenshtein, was a pioneering Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, often considered to be the "Father of Montage"...

     and Grigori Aleksandrov
    Grigori Aleksandrov
    Grigori Vasilyevich Aleksandrov or Alexandrov was a prominent Soviet film director who was named a People's Artist of the USSR in 1947 and a Hero of Socialist Labor in 1973...

    . Runtimes: Sweden:104 min, USA:95 min. Country: Soviet Union. Black and White. Silent. 1927.
  • The End of Saint Petersburg, directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin
    Vsevolod Pudovkin
    Vsevolod Illarionovich Pudovkin was a Russian and Soviet film director, screenwriter and actor who developed influential theories of montage...

    , USSR, 1927.
  • Reds (IMDB profile). Directed by Warren Beatty
    Warren Beatty
    Warren Beatty born March 30, 1937) is an American actor, producer, screenwriter and director. He has received a total of fourteen Academy Award nominations, winning one for Best Director in 1982. He has also won four Golden Globe Awards including the Cecil B. DeMille Award.-Early life and...

    , 1981. It is based on the book Ten Days that Shook the World
    Ten Days that Shook the World
    Ten Days that Shook the World is a book by American journalist and socialist John Reed about the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 which Reed experienced firsthand. Reed followed many of the prominent Bolshevik leaders, especially Grigory Zinoviev and Karl Radek, closely during his time in Russia...

    .
  • Anastasia
    Anastasia (1997 film)
    Anastasia is a 1997 American animated musical film produced and directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman. It was the first feature film to be released by Fox Animation Studios....

    (IMDB profile), an American animated feature, directed by Don Bluth
    Don Bluth
    Donald Virgil "Don" Bluth is an American animator and independent studio owner. He is best known for his departure from The Walt Disney Company in 1979 and his subsequent directing of animated films such as The Secret of NIMH , An American Tail ,The Land Before Time , and All Dogs Go to Heaven ,...

     and Gary Goldman
    Gary Goldman
    Gary Wayne Goldman is an American Film Producer, Director, Animator, Writer and voice actor, he is well known for working on films with Don Bluth like Anastasia, An American Tail and The Land Before Time...

    , 1997.
  • Dr. Zhivago
    Doctor Zhivago (1965 film)
    Doctor Zhivago is a 1965 epic drama-romance-war film directed by David Lean and loosely based on the famous novel of the same name by Boris Pasternak...

    , an American drama-romance-war film directed by David Lean
    David Lean
    Sir David Lean CBE was an English film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor best remembered for big-screen epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai , Lawrence of Arabia ,...

    , 1965, and loosely based on the famous novel of the same name by Boris Pasternak
    Boris Pasternak
    Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was a Russian language poet, novelist, and literary translator. In his native Russia, Pasternak's anthology My Sister Life, is one of the most influential collections ever published in the Russian language...

    .
  • The White Guard
    The White Guard
    The White Guard is a novel by 20th century Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov, famed for his critically acclaimed later work The Master and Margarita.-History:...

    , Mikhail Bulgakov
    Mikhail Bulgakov
    Mikhaíl Afanásyevich Bulgákov was a Soviet Russian writer and playwright active in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for his novel The Master and Margarita, which The Times of London has called one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.-Biography:Mikhail Bulgakov was born on...

    , 1926. Partially autobiographical novel, portraying the life of one family torn apart by uncertainty of the Civil War times. Also, Dni Turbinykh (IMDB profile), 1976 – film based on the novel.

See also

  • February Revolution
    February Revolution
    The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

  • October Revolution
    October Revolution
    The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

  • Arthur Ransome
    Arthur Ransome
    Arthur Michell Ransome was an English author and journalist, best known for writing the Swallows and Amazons series of children's books. These tell of school-holiday adventures of children, mostly in the Lake District and the Norfolk Broads. Many of the books involve sailing; other common subjects...

  • John Reed (journalist)
    • Ten Days that Shook the World
      Ten Days that Shook the World
      Ten Days that Shook the World is a book by American journalist and socialist John Reed about the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 which Reed experienced firsthand. Reed followed many of the prominent Bolshevik leaders, especially Grigory Zinoviev and Karl Radek, closely during his time in Russia...

  • Jacob Schiff
    Jacob Schiff
    Jacob Henry Schiff, born Jakob Heinrich Schiff was a German-born Jewish American banker and philanthropist, who helped finance, among many other things, the Japanese military efforts against Tsarist Russia in the Russo-Japanese War.From his base on Wall Street, he was the foremost Jewish leader...

  • White Terror (Russia)
    White Terror (Russia)
    During the Russian Revolution of 1917 and Civil War , the White Armies, foreign forces, and other opponents of the Soviet Government carried out mass violence against the population, including those with alleged revolutionary sympathies, associations with the revolutionary underground and guerrilla...

  • Red Terror
    Red Terror
    The Red Terror in Soviet Russia was the campaign of mass arrests and executions conducted by the Bolshevik government. In Soviet historiography, the Red Terror is described as having been officially announced on September 2, 1918 by Yakov Sverdlov and ended about October 1918...


Participants' accounts

  • Reed, John. Ten Days that Shook the World. 1919, 1st Edition, published by BONI & Liveright, Inc. for International Publishers. Transcribed and marked by David Walters for John Reed Internet Archive. Penguin Books; 1st edition. 1 June 1980. ISBN 0-14-018293-4. Retrieved 14 May 2005.
  • Serge, Victor
    Victor Serge
    Victor Serge , born Victor Lvovich Kibalchich , was a Russian revolutionary and writer. Originally an anarchist, he joined the Bolsheviks five months after arriving in Petrograd in January 1919 and later worked for the Comintern as a journalist, editor and translator...

    . Year One of the Russian Revolution. L'An l de la revolution russe, 1930. Year One of the Russian Revolution, Holt, Reinhart, and Winston. Translation, editor's Introduction, and notes © 1972 by Peter Sedgwick. Reprinted on Victor Serge Internet Archive by permission. ISBN 0-86316-150-2. Retrieved 14 May 2005.
  • Trotsky, Leon
    Leon Trotsky
    Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

    . The History of the Russian Revolution. Translated by Max Eastman, 1932. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 8083994. ISBN 0-913460-83-4. Transcribed for the World Wide Web by John Gowland (Australia), Alphanos Pangas (Greece) and David Walters (United States). Pathfinder Press edition. 1 June 1980. ISBN 0-87348-829-6. Retrieved 14 May 2005.

Primary documents

  • Ascher, Abraham, ed. The Mensheviks in the Russian Revolution (Ithaca, 1976).
  • Avrich, Paul
    Paul Avrich
    Paul Avrich was a professor and historian. He taught at Queens College, City University of New York, for most of his life and was vital in preserving the history of the anarchist movement in Russia and the United States....

    , ed. The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution (Ithaca, 1973).
  • Browder, Robert Paul and Alexander F. Kerensky, eds., The Russian Provisional Government, 1917: Documents. 3 volumes (Stanford, 1961).
  • Bunyan, James and H. H. Fisher, eds. The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917–1918: Documents and Materials (Stanford, 1961; first ed. 1934).
  • Steinberg, Mark D. Voices of Revolution, 1917. In the series “Annals of Communism,” Yale University Press
    Yale University Press
    Yale University Press is a book publisher founded in 1908 by George Parmly Day. It became an official department of Yale University in 1961, but remains financially and operationally autonomous....

    , 2001. On-line publication of these texts in the Russian original: Golosa revoliutsii, 1917 g. (Yale University Press, 2002)

External links