Russia 1855-1964: Impact of War

Revision cards on the Impact of Wars on Russian society between 1855-1964 (A2 History Course)

  • Created by: rachel
  • Created on: 30-04-12 11:36

Crimean War: 1854-56

  • Military defeat for Russia
  • Heavy Casualties: 450,000 Russians killed
  • 1 in 5 died in battle; most died of disease
  • Promoted people to question how great Russia really was
  • Occurred during the inauguration of Alexander II - Opportunity to create new reforms


  • Treaty of Paris (1856): Lost Land (Bessarabia) and right to maintain a fleet in the Black Sea
  • War acted as a catalyst for change:  Emancipation of Serfs (1861), creation of the zemstva (1864), reform of military in 1860s under Milyutin to reduce service and improve training
  • BUT these changes may have happened eventually; however the Crimean War sped this us
1 of 8

Russo-Turkish War: 1977-78

  • Military victory
  • Treaty of San Stefano (1879) allowed Russia to regain the land they had lost during the Crimean War and increase their power in the Balkans
  • Conditions revoked under the Treaty of Berlin - humiliating for Russia
  • No radical reform as a direct result of war
  • Unrest and anger contributed to growing opposition to the Tsar - Alexander II was assassinated in 1861 (possible parallel with the unrest Nicholas II faced after the Russo-Japanese War)
2 of 8

Russo-Japanese War: 1904-05

  • Humiliating defeat for Russia; underestimated Japanese power
  • Highlighted Russia's weaknesses (parallel with Crimean War and WWI)
  • Treaty of Portsmouth: Russia forced to withdraw from Port Arthur (similar to the Crimean War)


  • Contributed to growing domestic unrest (over food shortages, call for political representation)
  • Showed modernisation (e.g. Trans-Siberian Railway, Witte's Great Spurt) still hadn't resolved Russia's weaknesses
  • The Russian public associated the military incompetence of the war with the Tsar himself (parallel with WWI)
3 of 8

World War 1: 1914-1917

  • Military failure
  • Approximately 8 million casualties
  • Tsar Nicholas II took personal control: directly held responsible for Russia's defeat
  • Severe strain on the economy; inflation and food shortages caused resentment (more strain than previous wars)
  • Contributed to February 1917 revolutions (forced abdication of Nicholas II)
  • Provisional Government's refusal to withdraw Russia from the war led to their overthrow during the October 1917 revolutions
4 of 8

Russian Civil War: 1918-21

  • Red (Bolsheviks) victory over their enemies (Tsarists/landowners/clergy in the white and green armies)
  • Aim of defending the February/October 1917 revolutions and Communism united the reds
  • Led to mistrust and paranoia in Bolshevik Russia
  • Need for discipline; order and loyalty during Lenin's rule
  • Weakened the economy (War Communism caused famine in 1921)
5 of 8

World War 2: 1940-45

  • A military victory
  • Enormous human cost; 27 million killed
  • Very little aftermath in terms of modernisation
  • Strict discipline and repression during the war to defend ideology (parallel with the Civil War)
  • Patriotic feeling = population united to defeat the Nazis
  • Prompted Soviet expansion into Eastern Europe after 1945; paranoia and increase in rivalry with non-communist countries (e.g. America during the Cold War)
6 of 8

Cold War: 1945-1991

  • No winner/loser
  • Russia was defending itself and Communism against ideological enemies (as in Civil War and WW2)
  • Nuclear arms and space race put a strain on the Russian economy
  • Heightened tensions with non-Communist countries
  • Restraint on change; the USSR had to appear stable and strong to international rivals
7 of 8

Tsarist Wars vs. Communist Wars

  • Russia lost most wars
  • War highlighted Russia's weaknesses
  • War placed a massive strain on the population and economy
  • Defeats led to loss of confidence in the leader at the time (e.g. Russo-Japanese War, WW1 and the Cold War)
  • Defeat in war was often a stimulus for change and modernisation was highlighted
  • War often directly led to food shortages/famines
  • War led to workers strikes and peasant unrest
  • Defeat in war led to an increase of repression (creation of the Okhrana, Red Terror)
  • War being a catalyst for change was more true of the Tsarist period than the Communist period
  • Limited war had limited impact (Crimean war/Russo-Japanese War/Russo-Turkish War); whereas total wars (WW1/WW2) had more far reaching effects
  • Communists were more successful at winning wars than Tsars as they create patriotic support for Russia whereas Tsars were personally to blame for Russia's defeats
8 of 8




These are very helpful note cards, I'm doing A2 history at the moment and I am finding this extremely helpful for war and revolution! Especially the comparison at the end! Brilliant, thanks!



Helpful revision cards. Would go and check them however as some of the key dates are wrong and those not familiar with them could easily get confused. E.g. Alexander was assassinated in 1881, not 1861.

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Russia - 19th and 20th century resources »