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To what extent does the impact of WW1 explain the outbreak of 2 revolutions in 1917?
placed an unbearable strain on Russia's weak government and economy
resulting in mass shortages and hunger.
In the meantime, the mismanagement and failures of the war turned the people - and
importantly the soldiers - against the Tsar
Tsar'sdecision to take personal command of the army seemed to make him personally
responsible for the defeats.
The February Revolution 1917
1 Weakness of Russia
Russia had been humiliated in a war with Japan, 1904
There were many nationalities, languages and religions (the only unity was the Romanov
Russia was vast 125 million people spread across Europe and Asia. This made government
difficult, especially because of poor communications bad roads and few railways.
An out-of-date farming economy. Most of the population were peasants who lived in the
country and are under the control of the nobles.
Russia was beginning to industrialise (eg Trans-Siberian railway, 1904). Towns/ factories
were starting to grow up. But there was worker poverty and poor living conditions which
created a large workforce, disaffected and concentrated in Petrograd, the capital. Also a
small wealthier middle class were beginning to want a say in the government.
Tsar Nicholas was an autocrat Nicholas carried out all the business of government alone,
without even a secretary, an impossible load He was a weak Tsar. At first he refused to
compromise then, in the crisis of 1917, failed to act.
The Kadets - middle classes and liberal landowners who wanted Russia to have a Parliament
Social Revolutionaries (wanted a peasant revolution, and to take all the land from the
The Communists (followers of Karl Marx), who were divided into the moderate Mensheviks
(wanted Communism without a revolution) and the extremist Bolsheviks (wanted a violent
After 1900, there were many assassinations and protests (eg Bloody Sunday, 1905 and the
murder of Prime Minister Stolypin in 1911).
2 World War I
The First World War was the key factor.
The army was badly led and poorly equipped.
Russian defeats at Tannenberg and Masurian Lakes the Russians lost 200,000 men lost the
government the support of the army.
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The winter of 191617 was severe. Food shortages got worse there was a famine in the
3 Tsar's Mistakes
The Tsar took personal command of the army which did not help the war effort and meant
he was blamed for the defeats.
He left the Tsarina in charge- incompetent (she let Rasputin run the government), and
(because she was a German) rumours circulated that she was trying to help Germany to win.…read more