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
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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)
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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)
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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
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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)
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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)
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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
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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
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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!

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