GCSE Russia 1905-1941


Tsar Nicholas II

Name: Nicolas Romanov (Nicky) or Litle Father

Wife: Alexandra (Alix) Romanov (Princess of Germany)

Children: 4 daughters - Olga, Maria, Taitania and Anastatia

1 son - Alexi (had Haemophilia, an inherited disease which prevents the blood from clotting)

Religion: Russian Orthodox

  • Romanov family reigned for 300 years
  • He knew many languages (German, French and English)
  • Alix influenced Nicolas a lot
  • His parents didnt want him to marry Alix as she was German and a Protestant
  • His cousin was George V
  • Was decended from Queen Victoria
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Problems in Russia

  • There was lots of dense forest all over the country
  • Its a huge area to try and rule - you wouldn't know everything that was happening
  • It is easliy attacked as it has big borders
  • Most of the roads were hard to traverse along as they were muddy
  • You couldn't use boats in the Arctic Ocean as it was frozen for most of the year
  • There were more than 20 different peoples/ethnic groups in Russia
  • 6/10 people couldn't speak Russian
  • It was a very bacwards country
  • The Tsar spent 45% of his money on the army
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Political Parties and Their Leaders

Social Democratic Labour Party or The SDLPs (founded in 1898):

  • Vladimir Lenin
  • Leon Trotsky
  • Julius Martov

The SDLPs split into the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks in 1903

The Socialist Revolutionaries or The SRs (founded in 1901):

  • Alexander Kerensky

Constitutional Democratic Party or The Cadets (founded on 1905)

  • Paul Milyukov

The Octoberists (founded in 1905)

  • Alexander Guchkov
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Name: Grigori Rasputin

Born/Died: 21st January 1869 - 17th December 1916

  • He was a wandering holy man
  • Claimed to be touched by the Virgin Mary
  • Was an alchoholic and known to chase women
  • After travelling for a while, a friend introduced him to Tsar Nicolas and the Tsarina
  • He then proceded to take Alexi's pain away from his leg - he healed him
  • Became close with the Romanov's and Nicolas and Alexandra called him 'our friend'

Whilst Nicolas was away at the front line during the war, people said that Rasputin became very close with Alexandra and caused people to mistrust both Rasputin and the Tsarina, saying that she was a German spy and  that Rasputin influenced her decisions.

He was murdered on 17th December 1916; He was poisoned but it did not seem to affect him. He was then stabbed multiple times but still lived so he was beaten till unconsious and thrown in a river, where he drowned.

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The Whites

The whites were made up of nobles, middle class, army officers and generals, and political parties. They were named 'The Whites' because of ther uniform which was white, like the Tsar's

  • The three most important generals were Denikin, Yudenich and Kolchak
  • Moral in The Whites was often low and there were many desertions
  • They had a poor supply train and they didn't coordinate their attacks
  • They weren't united in their approach and operated in seperate groups as they all wanted different things
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The Reds (Bolsheviks)

The army was lead by Trotsky and they adopted the policy of war communism, which meant that all necessary resources were poured into the army - even if this meant peasants and workers went hungry. Conscription was introduced to men aged 18 - 40 and Trotsky was given the job of organising the enlarged Red army

  • The Red army ended up with 5 milion troops!
  • The Reds used the Krondstadt sailors but they eventually turned against them
  • Trotsky's army didn't have enough officers and so he cleverly recruited the Tsar's army
  • There were about 22 thousand such officers, who were blackmailed into fighting for the Bolsheviks
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The Reds Policies

They created the NEP, which stood for New Economic Policy.

Some of the key features of the NEP were:

  • They had many capitalist features to help get Russia working again
  • They encouraged foreign countries which had refused to trade with the soviet before 1921 to resume trade lengths
  • Lenin saw electric power as a key to modernising the soviet union
  • A new rouble was introuced
  • Kulaks began to make more money - richer peasants
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Who were the Provisional Government and Key Polici

The Provisional Government were created as a back up after the Tsar abdicated and was set up by members of the Duma, lead by Alexander Kerensky.

  • It was made up of middle-class polititions who wanted to establisha democratic government
  • They worked with the Petrograd Soviet who were in charge of workers and soldiers but they had a rule (Order No.1) that its members should only obey the Provisional Government if the Soviet agreed with it
  • Because it was only a temporary government, it didn't really carry out any major reforms
  • They only abolished the Okhrana and press censorship, and allow political freedom. This gave the government's opponents - such as the Bolsheviks - the freedom to attack the government for the problems it was not solving
  • The PG tried to continue the war. In June 1917, it organised an attack on Austria, however, when the attack failed, people began to turn against them
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Events of 1905

20 000 people were walking through the city to the Tsar's winter palace but the Tsar wasn't there. The people were carring pictures of him and singing hyms; all they wanted was to ask for help from him to make their living conditions better.

The guards didn't know what to do. They panicked and started firing on the people.

500 people were killed.

The Results:

  • The people lost faith in the Tsar and lablled him as the murderer; by the summer, there was chaos in both rural and urban areas.
  • In February, the Tsar's uncle, The Grand Duke Sergei, was assassinated.
  • The October manifesto was created.
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The October Manifesto

The October Manifesto was formed in October 1905.

It gave people:

  • Freeom of speech
  • Freedom of aribitary arrest
  • Freedom to meet openly
  • A national parliament (the Dumas)
  • An end to censorship
  • The right to form political parties

The Tsar also stopped the land redemption payments that peasants had to pay in November 1905.

The peasants reduced their tax, the middle class got a parliament, but the town workers got crushed.

Thousands of revolutionaries were murdered -------> Reform vs. repression

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The July Days 1917

The failure of the summer offensive produced the 'July Days' and the Bolshevik's lead demonstrations demanding the overthrow of the Provisional Government. Troops who were loyal to the government put down protests; they started shooting at the protesters from the rooftops and there was chaos.

Lenin fled to Finland and Kerensky became the new Prime Mnister. Kerensky called the Bolsheviks 'German Traitors'.

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The Kornilov Revolt - August 1917

  • Kornilov was the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces
  • He didn't agree with the Petrograd Soviet's wish to end the war
  • He sought to set up a military dictatorship
  • The Bolsheviks managed to persuade many of Kornilov's troops to desert
  • Railway workers prevented Kornilov's troops from approaching Petrograd
  • The Bolshevik's are portrayed as heros
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Features of The October Revolution 1917

October 7th:

  • Lenin returns to Petrograd disguised as a railway worker
  • He meets with the Bolsheviks and decides on an armed uprising

October 8th:

  • Lenin meets with the Kronstadt sailors
  • They agree to support the 'Soviet' in over-throwing the Provisional Government

The Bolsheviks then start planning the take over with the Kronstadt sailors.

October 24th:

  • Key Buildings like railway stations and telegraph offices are captured by the Bolsheviks
  • They put up road blocks on the bridges surounding the Winter Palace

October 24th/25th:

  • Kerensky escapes from Petrograd and goes to the front to try and raise troops while the rest of the government stayed in the Winter Palace
  • He failed at raising more troops
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The Constituent Assembly - November 1917

Free elections were held in November 1917 for Russia's new parliament for the first time in Russian history.

The Socialist Revolutionaries gained the most seats, more than all the other parties put together.

Number of seats gained by each party:

  • Socialist Revolutionaries - 370 seats
  • Bolsheviks - 175 seats
  • Others (representing nationalities) - 87 seats
  • Left-wing Socialist Revolutionaries - 40 seats
  • Constitutional Democrats (Cadets) - 17 seats
  • Mensheviks - 16 seats
  • Narodniks - 2 seats
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The Decrees

Decree on Land (November 8th):

  • 540 million acres of land taken from the Tsar, the nobles, the church and other landlords
  • Peasants to set up committies to divide the land fairly

Decree on Peace (November 8th):

  • Sovnarkon intended to make peace immediately with Russia's opponants in the war

Decree on Worker's Control (November 8th):

  • All factories to be placed under the control of elected committies of workers

Decree on The Press (November 9th):

  • All non-Bolshevik newspapers were banned
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The Decrees (cont.)

Decree on Work (November 11th):

  • An 8 hour day and 40 hour week for all industrial workers to be introduced
  • There were restrictions on overtime
  • There was to be holiday entitlement for workers

Decree on Banking (December 27th):

  • All banks in Russia came under control of the Sovnarkom

Decree on Unemployment Insurance:

  • Employment insurance to be introduced for all workers against injury, illness and unemployment

Decree on Titles:

  • All titles and class distinctions were abolished
  • Women were declared equal to men
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The Decrees (I know, I know)

Decree to Set Up The Political Police:

  • The 'All Russian Extrodinary Commission to Fight Counter-Revolution and Espionage' was formed
  • This became known as the Cheka

Decree on Political Parties:

  • Russia's main liberal party, the Constitutional Democratic Party, was banned

Decree on Marriage:

  • Couples were permitted to have non-religious weddings
  • Divorce was made easier

That is all.

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Stalin's Rise To Power

  • Stalin found out about Marxism whilst at a seminary and became involved, writing pamphlets and attending secret meetings
  • He then became a very active revolutionary
  • In 1917 he hurried back to Petrograd and became editor of the Pravada (truth)
  • After the October revolution, he was made Commisar for Nationalities
  • In 1922 he was apointed the party's first General Secretary
  • Stalin tricked Trotsky into not going to Lenin's funeral, making Trotsky look bad
  • Stalin made a speech praising Lenin and said he was Lenin's diciple
  • The leading communists decided not to make Lenin's testament public because it critisized them all, including Stalin
  • In 1924, at the first Party Congress after Lenin's death, Zinoviev and Kamenev joined forces with Stalin to defeat Trotsky
  • Stalin made sure that supporters packed the congress and, because of this, Trotsky lost all the votes and lost his job as Commisar for the War
  • Trotsky no longer controlled the Red Army
  • In 1926, Stalin turned on Zinoviev and Kamenev. He joined forces with Bukharin and the right wing of the party
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Stalin's Rise To Power (cont.)

  • Once again, Stalin's supporters packed the congress and he easily won the votes
  • Zinoviev and Kamenev lost their jobs in the Politburo
  • In 1927, Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev were expelled from the party
  • Eventually, Stalin turned on Bukharin and right-wing MPs
  • He attacked the NEP, which they supported, and had them removed from their posts.
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The Five Year Plans

The First Five Year Plan (1928-32):

  • It concentrated on heavy industry, such as coal, steel and iron
  • It also concentrated on 'new' industries like electricity, chemicals, rubber and motor vehicles
  • Unfortunately, consumer industries like textiles and household goods were neglected

The Second Five Year Plan (1933-37):

  • At first they set targets for the increased production of consumer goods
  • They avoided setting targets too high
  • As fears of invasion from the west increased, heavy industry again became the priority
  • During the second plan, the production of armaments trebled
  • Also, there was a focus on the chemical industry i.e. the production of fertilizers for agriculture

The Third Five Year Plan (1938-41):

  • This was abandoned when Germany invaded in June 1941
  • It concentrated on the production of household goods and luxuries
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The 'city' of Magnitogorsk was more of a disorganised building site in a terrible location with horrible weather conditions.

  • There were only make-shift barracks for workers and Kulaks who were forced to worked lived in tents
  • It was -90 degrees for 9 months a year and still freezing for the rest
  • There was inches of ice on everything
  • There wasn't enough coal or food
  • There were no roads or sewge pipes
  • There was a lack of safety and at least one person died per week, usually from slipping on ice and falling
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Why Industrialise?

  • The Ural Mountains were rich in iron ore
  • Fear of war and invasion - they needed to be protected
  • Russia was 50-100 years behind the west
  • To change the country from agriculture to industry
  • People would have better working lives
  • They would have more food
  • People could heat their homes more easily - with electricity instead of coal and wood
  • Stalin believed that they had to catch up to the rest of the world in 10 years or the USSR would be 'crushed'
  • They would produce more grain which meant more grain to trade with
  • It would consolidate Stalin's position of power
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Life For Workers

  • It was freezing cold - -30 for 9 months a year
  • There wasn't any roads or sewage pipes
  • They lived in makeshift barracks
  • The Kulaks had to live in tents
  • There wasn't enough coal or food
  • There was a lack of safety- inches of ice on everything, unsafe scaffolding
  • Prizes like, money or a new house were given out for people who worked especially hard in the mines
  • Stakhanovites were created

Alexei Stakhanov claimed to move 102 tonnes of coal in one shift all by himself and he became a role model for other workers however, he lied, he had help from others.

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The Treaty Of Brest-Litovsk 1918

The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk brought about the end of the war between Russia and Germany in 1918. It was signed by Trotsky not Lenin.

Agreements Made:

  • Russia had to pay a fine of 300 gold roubles to Germany
  • Russia also had to give up Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Ukraine and Georgia
  • These countries made up 27% of Russia!
  • That meant that Germany was bigger and more of a threat
  • Those countries were big mining countries that were rich with resources
  • The peace talks began on the 3rd of December
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Key Features Of The NEP (March 1921-1928)

NEP stands for New Economic Policy and was a more capitalism-oriented economic policy made to foster the economy of the country, which was almost ruined.

Key Features:

  • Peasants could sell their surplus food for profit again
  • Peasants who increased their food production would pay less tax
  • Factories with fewer than 20 workers would be given back to their owners
  • People could use money again - a new rouble was introduced
  • Key industries, such as coal and steel, still remained under state control
  • The Kulaks stood to gain from the NEP and so were named 'Nepmen'
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Successes Of The NEP


  • Grain Harvest (millions of tonnes) - 80.1 (1913) ---> 72.5 (1925)
  • Sown Area (millions of hectares) - 90.3 (1921) ---> 104.3 (1925)
  • Cattle (millions) - 58.9 (1913) ---> 62.1 (1925)
  • Pigs (millions) - 20.3 (1913) ---> 21.8 (1925)


  • Coal (millions of tonnes) - 29 (1913) ---> 18.1 (1925)
  • Iron (millions of tonnes) - 4.2 (1913) ---> 1.5 (1925)
  • Steel (thousands of tonnes) - 183 (1921) ---> 2135 (1925)
  • Finished Cloth (millios of metres) - 105 (1921) ---> 1688 (1925)
  • Value Of Factory Output (millions of roubles) - 2004 (1921) ---> 7739 (1925)
  • Electricity (million Kwhs) - 520 (1921) ---> 2925 (1925)
  • Rail Freight Carried (millions of tonnes) - 39.4 (1921) --->83.4 (1925)
  • Average Monthly Wage Of Urban Workers (roubles) - 10.2 (1921) ---> 25.2 (1925)
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