Difficulties facing Russia at the start of the 20t

·         Population 125 million

·         100 different nationalities

·         80% peasants and illiterate

·         Big country so communication difficult

·         Capital far away from other places

·         Tsar Nichols II ruled, harsh autocratic regime supported by wealthy aristocracy and by Russian orthodox church

·         Some technology, some old fashioned places

·         Lots of inhabitable land

1 of 28

Bloody Sunday

·         After  1902 there was economic depression and bad harvests in the countryside

·         Food shortages led to demonstrations, strikes and protests

·         Tsar crushed protests with brutal force (caused anger)

·         After murder of minister of interior in 1904 the tsar was left angry and vulnerable

·         Thought he’d gain popularity through the war he waged against japan in 1904

·         Russia suffered humiliating defeats

·         Revolution began as peaceful protests at the winter palace

·         Tsar ordered troops to open fire which cause a wide spread revolution

·         Tsar stopped war in japan and issued October manifesto

2 of 28

October manifesto

·         Granted the people freedom of speech

·         Right to form political parties

·         Formation of elected parliament (Duma)

·         By the time of elections in 1906, Tsar had regained some power and decided to pass the fundamental laws.

·         Fundamental laws allowed him to dismiss the Duma whenever he wanted to.

3 of 28


Left wing parties who followed the teaching of Karl Marx. They wanted rid of the tsar. Communist

Marxism- that a society proletarian revolution could only occur where there was an industrial society.

4 of 28

World war one

·         Battle of tannenburg (1914) russias worst defeat 2nd army destroyed.

·         Battle of masurian lakes (September 1914) Tactical withdrawal

·         Conscription- compulsory to join army, nearly 3 million men were lost by 1916

·         Tsar as leader- took charge of front in sep 1915 thought would gain population but losing straight away.

·         Government- Tsarina in charge, chose ministers. German by birth so not popular.

·         Rasputin- Unorthodox monk from Siberia. Apparently magic, perform miracles ( treating tsarina’s son)

·         Economic problems and discontent- over 50 million joined army. Not enough workers. Shortages led to inflation. Food and equipment shortages at front.

·         Transport-the railway system was pretty poor and could not supply the troops or towns. Food prices rose. Focussed mainly on the troops, army needed horses which meant less for ploughing land.

5 of 28

February revolution (1917)

·         Then bad winter- The worst winter in living memory caused severe food and fuel shortages.

·         Strikes- people were starving so decided to go on strike, this sparked the revolution and gave people the confidence to rebel.

·         Soldiers- The army slowly started turning against the tsar. There was mutiny and they had taken sides with the protesters.

·         The Duma- The duma took over power of the government when the tsar abdicated. The provisional government emerged out of the duma.

6 of 28

Provisional government reforms

·         Freedom of religion

·         Freedom of speech

·         Amnesty of political prisoners

·         Recognition of trade unions

·         Secret police abolished

·         Promise of elected parliament

·         Introduction of an eight hour day for industrial workers

7 of 28

Failure of the provisional government

·         Rising prices and rationing caused growing discontent and strikes broke out in Petrograd

·         Early 1917 Petrograd soldiers mutinied and supported the demonstrators.

·         Severe weather in December 1917 and January 1917 hampered the war effort and disrupted food supplies to the cities and towns.

·         Made reforms

·         Various Bolsheviks including Lenin fled

·         Inherited all the problems that had faced the tsar.

·         Lenin changed the views of the peasants with the slogan “land to the peasants”

·         Lenin was sent back to Russia to stir up a rebellion

8 of 28


July days- riots took place Petrograd 1917 led by returning soldiers and other revolutionary groups. They were successfully put down by Kerensky.

December 1916- January 1917- severe weather exacerbated the problems of food and fuel shortages leading to increased dissatisfaction.

April 1917- Lenin returned to Russia

After July days, 1917- Lenin and other leading Bolsheviks were forced to flee Russia when they were denounced as traitors by Kerensky and the Provisional government.

February 1917- Petrograd soldiers mutinied and joined the demonstrators on the streets.

June 1917- A vote of confidence was given to the Provisional government by the All Russian Congress of Soviets.

15th March 1917- Tsar Nichols abdicated

September 1917- General Kornilov supreme commander- in- chief of the armed forces led a failed coup to seize power.

9 of 28

WW1 effects between 1914-17

·         Large military defeats (26th-29th tannenberg lake, 5th-9th September masurian lakes)

·         Severe food shortages- occurred in Russia due to poor logistical capabilities on behalf of the tsar’s government.

·         Russians were forced to retreat- 480km as a result of a joint Austro-German offensive (may 1915) which was demoralising.

·         Shortages- food, fuel, clothing

·         Government- tsarina, Rasputin

10 of 28

October revolution 1917

·         7th Lenin returned to Petrograd

·         Zinoviev and Kamanev fear the revolution and rumours of a Bolshevik uprising are now common (17th-18th)

·         Petrograd’s soldiers and sailors promise to help and have control of red guards. (21st)

·         Alexander Kerensky ordered arrest of military revolutionary committee (22nd)

·         Bolshevik newspapers shut down and cut off telephones to smolny institute (23rd)

·         Bolsheviks began to occupy train station, telephone exchange and state bank. Next day red guard surrounded winter palace (24th)

·         By 9pm most defending the palace had surrendered cabinet ministers arrested (25th)

·         Power handed over to the soviet council of people’s commissars. Lenin elected chairman and Trotsky foreign affairs (26th)

11 of 28

Bolshevik success

·         Provisional government wasn’t elected

·         Provisional government had to share power with the soviets

·         Soldiers of Petrograd sided with the Bolsheviks

·         The creation of the military revolutionary committee enabled the Bolsheviks to control some of the armed forces at a critical time

·         Many political parties did not offer their leadership

·         Lenin persuaded Bolsheviks to oppose to war

·         Lenin had evolved the teachings of Marx

·         Simple slogans persuaded peasants to side with Bolsheviks (easy to understand)

·         Lenin was energetic and created the red guard using German money.

12 of 28

Bolsheviks ending the war 1918

·         It was a Bolshevik promise that they would immediately look to make peace

·         Russia was materially exhausted, lost 74% of iron and coal supplies

·         Food and fuel shortages

·         Peasants had been alienated from the war

13 of 28

Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

·         Will have lost popularity

·         Lost land

·         Only just won debate

·         Lost colonies

·         Lost 54% of industry

·         Lost 89% coal mines

·         Lost 74% of iron and coal

·         32% arable land

·         300 million gold roubles

·         Lost 34% of the population

·         Lost land

·         Lost workers.

14 of 28

Red vs white civil war

·         Reds had a definite leader (Trotsky) whereas the whites had many.

·         Reds- well organised, had train and brutal leadership

·         Whites- cruel commanders

·         Reds- wanted to keep power and secure revolution

·         Whites- scared of communism, wanted tsarist  regime back

·         Reds- used propaganda (Lenin), kept soldiers happy, planned better, big army (conscription), peasants scared of tsarist regime returning, had the Cheka.

·         Whites- had a lot of support, stregnth and supplies from Britain, France and USA

·         Reds- People were against Trotsky’s methods, they only controlled a small area.

·         Whites- operated as separate groups, spread over large areas, low morale of soldiers, foreign countries lost interest in 1920.

15 of 28

Red terror

·         Took place 1918-1922

·         When Bolsheviks seized power of Petrograd and Moscow

·         They arrested and executed people who disagreed with their regime

·         Caused both physical and psychological problems for Russia.

·         Caused loss of support of the Kronstadt sailors

16 of 28

War communism

·         Gave government more control

·         Removed private industry (got money from it)

·         Kept the army supplied

·         Had complete economic control

·         Helped them win the war

·         Rapid inflation (people had to barter, had no money)

·         Rationing wasn’t fair, people were starving

·         Food shortages

·         Peasants thought they had no power

·         People were unhappy

·         Resorted to cannibalism

17 of 28

Kronstadt mutiny

·         Horrified by how communists were taking power from the soviets

·         Requested no more war communism

·         Demanded: secret ballots, freedom of speech, the end of the red terror, free trade unions and that peasants should be free to farm.

·         Lenin stopped the protests- killed / injured 20,000 survivors were executed.

18 of 28


·         To stop government being overthrown

·         After noticing how unpopular war communism was

·         Relaxed war communism

·         Small factories and businesses were returned to private ownership

·         Open market, grain was no longer seized from peasants

·         Started taxing products

·         Allowed to keep their own profit

·         Thought it was against communist principles

·         Caused people to get richer

19 of 28

Stalin gaining power

·         Underestimated him

·         Under dog, played little part in Bolshevik revolution

·         Lenin warned people not to let him take over

·         Held a key post in the party

·         He appointed officials who supported him

·         Removed known supporters of Trotsky

·         Presented himself as Lenin’s close follower

·         Appeared as chief mourner at his funeral

·         Used propaganda ( fake photos to prove closeness with Lenin)

·         Clever tactics ( played parties against each other)

·         Used other candidates to remove of each other

·         Communism at home ‘socialism in one country’-gained popularity

20 of 28

The cult of Stalin

·         Encouraged the cult of Lenin

·         Instructed to produce works that praise Stalin

·         Show how communism was developing

·         Glorifying Stalin

·         Emphasised Stalin’s role in things like the Bolshevik revolution

·         Removed enemies like Trotsky from history

·         Aimed particularly at children to teach them that Stalin was a great teacher

21 of 28

Five year plans

·         Created a command economy in each factory

·         Began in October 1928

·         Focussed on quantity not quality

·         Reorganise and modernise soviet industry and agriculture

22 of 28


·         Collective farms (Kolkhozy)

·         State owned farms ( Sovkhozy)

·         Part of 5 year plans

·         Remove of ownership of land by ordinary people

23 of 28

Purges (1928-…)

·         People who opposed stalins policies were put on trial

·         Show trials

·         Old Bolsheviks killed

·         Senior communists arrested

·         Removed of any opposition to red army and ensured total obedience

·         Trotsky was murdered

24 of 28

Effects of the purges

·         Political- old Bolsheviks removed, expelled from communist party

·         Social- families fell apart, turned against each other, children left on streets

·         Economic- job losses, quality of produce decreased, able workers were killed/ arrested

·         Psychological- fear, no trust, no one felt secure

·         Military- almost led to defeat in 1941 against Hitler’s armies, Army and navy weakened

25 of 28


·         Sexual equality achieved

·         Increased higher positions

·         Received a higher education than before

·         Earning an income

·         41% of workers were women

·         Rewarded for having big families

·         Still expected to household chores and work full time

·         Only earned 60-65% of men’s pay

·         Didn’t get help unless they had 6 children

·         Had to educate children.

26 of 28

1936 constitution

·         Introduced by Stalin

·         Convinced soviet citizens and outside countries that Russia was a ‘free’ society

·         USSR consisted of 11 republics

·         Elections- secret ballot

·         Communist party kept close control on the central government and each republic

27 of 28

1936 constitution

·         Introduced by Stalin

·         Convinced soviet citizens and outside countries that Russia was a ‘free’ society

·         USSR consisted of 11 republics

·         Elections- secret ballot

·         Communist party kept close control on the central government and each republic

28 of 28


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Russia 1905-1941 resources »