Russia 1917-39 (GCSE History)

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The causes of the Russian Revolution were mainly political and cultural rather
than economic
Three main players in the political arena: the tsar, the peasantry (made up 80%
of Russia's population) and the intelligentsia.
The Tsar had absolute power.
The Tsar was above the law and had developed a powerful security police; it
was a crime to question the existing system.
Those who were discontent tried to persuade Nicholas II to transform the
Russian government (which was already an absolute monarchy) into a
constitutional monarchy (one with a parliamentary system to say the least).
Sadly, Nicholas II was unwilling to give up some of his authority.
Russia was defeated and humiliated during the First World War. They had
suffered in the hands of the Germans who had much more technologically
improved weapons.
Economic mismanagement led to food shortages.
The severe winter added to the misery of the populace.
There were two main revolutions: The 1st in February overthrew the imperial
government and the 2nd in October overthrew the provisional government
under Kerensky and placed the Bolsheviks in power.
The February Revolution was spontaneous and leaderless. It was mainly the
proletariat demonstrating because they resented the economic and social
conditions that prevailed in imperial Russia under Tsar Nicholas.
Nicholas couldn't survive and was forced to abdicate in March. Many Russians
Whilst they were rejoicing, a political vacuum (anarchy, lawlessness) was
created and therefore needed immediate attention.
A Provisional Government was formed and was to remain in power until a
democratic parliament would be organized in January 1918.
The authority was exercised by the Petrograd Soviet/Council which claimed to
represent the nation's workers and soldiers however it was organized and run
by an executive committee of radical intellectuals nominated by the socialist
The Provisional Government seemingly spoke for the country but in reality it
represented only the middle class; the soviets represented the workers and
The Mensheviks, the more moderate socialists, held that Russia had to pass
through its capitalist phase before the socialist one could appear. The
Bolsheviks wanted the transition period to be short.
Lenin had attracted the attention of the Germans who supplied him with
money to organize his party and build up his press.

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Lenin quickly sensed the weakness of the Provisional Government. He
returned to Russia in April 1917, hoping to launch a revolution.
Many of his followers doubted that it would succeed; they were in the right in
July 1917 when a putsch led by the Bolsheviks badly misfired.
Leon Trotsky, a recent convert to Bolshevism, became chairman of the
Petrograd Soviet, a party that immediately turned into a vehicle for the seizure
of power.…read more

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Lenin ordered the Cheka to carry out mass executions of suspected
opponents. Thousands of political prisoners held without charges were shot.
Anti-communist parties were often led by former imperial officers and were
supported by the UK with money and war material.
The Red Army was formed in February 1918, and Trotsky became its leader. He
was to reveal great leadership and military skill, fashioning a rabble into a
formidable fighting force.
The Red Army inherited vast stores of weapons and ammunition from the
tsarist army.…read more

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The government set prices of agricultural goods too low.
The party was still faced with the challenge of building up heavy industry which
could only be funded by primitive socialist accumulation of resources from the
peasant sector.
The Bolsheviks attached great importance to every aspect of culture,
education & religion.
The Bolsheviks suppressed political dissidence by shutting down hostile
newspapers and subjecting all publications to preventive censorship.
In 1922 they set up a central censorship office, known for short as GLAVIT.…read more

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The burden of the Collectivization fell most heavily on the peasantry since
Stalin's first concern was to persuade them to sell their grain surplus and feed
the cities.
Collectivization imposed great hardship on the peasants, partly because they
were left with no surplus on which to live.
Crash industrialization was imposed at the same time as agricultural
collectivization, since Stalin had convincingly argued that a slow socialization
was impossible.…read more

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Over the next four years, the centre of political life in the Soviet Union was the
exposure and suppression of ever increasing circles of alleged plotters against
the regime, all of them linked in one way or another with the Kirov case.
The brutal stage of the purges came with the appointment of Nikolay
Ivanovich Yezhov (in September 1936) as chief of the Soviet security police or
The notorious NKVD "troikas" sentenced hundreds of thousands of people to
death in their absence.…read more


Miss E

A thorough set of notes taking Russia from the revolution in 1917 to WWII and a good starting point for revision. Take these and highlight areas you need to find out more about.


I liek it it gud :)

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