Russian History A-Level


The Impact of the First World War on Russia 1


- The Russians had the largest Army and did have some successes.

- At the Battle of Tannenburg 1914, the Russian faced heavy losses. By the end of 1915, they had been forced out of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

- General Brusilov launched a successful offensive against the Austrians in the summer. 

- The quality of leadership was poor with many officers appointed due to relationships with the Tsar. They had little experience with fighting. There was also no war plan. 

- There was a shortage of supplies e.g ammunition and uniforms.

-By 1916, the Russians were matching the Germans in shell production and Brusliv even saved the French at Verdun with his offensive.

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The Impact of the First World War on Russia 2

The Home Front

- The pressure of providing for soldiers weakened the Russian economy. The railways were oveloaded and their were bottlenecks at Mexico. 

-The loss of Poland and land in the West meant that Russia lost two main railines. There was also a probelm with moving grain into cities. There was also little incentive for the peasants to produce grain as there were few goods for peasants to buy.

- Inflation increased as Russia begfan to print offmoney to pay wages. 

-Shortage of food was a mjor source of anger which only increased at the ban on vodka sales.

-Riots began to break out.

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The Impact of the First World War on Russia 3

The Role of the Tsar in the War

- There was a significant loss of confidence in the Tsar as military defeats piled up. 

It was the Zemstva that formed their own bodies to provide medical care for soldiers and the organisation Zemgor was set up. Through this, they also began to supply soldiers with boots and tents. This emphasised the failures of the governemnt in this area. 

- Professionals banded together to form War Industry Committees to increase military production. This was regarded with suspicion by the Tsar and his wife. 

- The Tsar was pressured to reconvene the Duma in 1915 but when the suggested the 'progresssive Bloc' in which they would become fully involved in the war effort and replace incompetent ministers, the Tsar refused and suspended the Duma. 

-The Tsar made the mistake of going to the Front and putting himself at the head of the Army - which only made him persoanlly resposible for military failures. He also left the Tsarin and Rasputin in charge - Alexandra constaly dismissed skillfull ministers of which she was suspicious. 

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The February Revolution

- The Revolution began as a good-humored march created be ladies of society in Petrograd. They began to taunt the men, calling them cowards if they did not join them. 

- Bolshevik leaders did not initiallysupport the march and told the women to go home as they were plnning their own rising soon enough. 

- Over the next three days, the demonstrations grew and became more political - though there was no general organisation. Socialists began to add their red flags and banners. 

- The NCOs of the army had decided that they would not fire on the crowds - and so joined them. They shared the dissatisfaction of the people and did not want to be sent to the front lines. 

- The Tsar ordered some regiments to open fire on the protestors - which they did. He refused to acknowledge that this was a real revolution. A number of officers were killed as the protests became more hostile. 

- Prisoners were even released by the people. 

- The Tsar eventually abdicated to his brother Michael - but Michael refused and so came the end of the Romanov dynasty. 

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The Provisional Government and the Soviet

How was the Provisional Government formed? 

  • The provisional Government was declared on the 2nd March.
  • It was dominated by the Kadets - Milyukov became foreign Minister.
  • Prince Lvov became president. 

Its role was to run the country until to the constituent assembly elections. It was chosen by the Duma (and not the people). 

What was the Soviet?

  • The Soviet was formed on the 27th February by Menshevik intellectuals. It became the centre of aims for the working-class. Factories delegated people to attend meetings. 
  • The first chairman was Chkheidze.
  • The soldiers also demanded repuation through the Soviet  and gained the famoud Order No. 1.
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The Honeymoon of the revolution

  • Tsar ministers and officials were arrested. The police put themselves under arrest.
  • The secret police were abandoned.
  • The first decree granted an amnesty for political and religious prisoners and established freedom of speech and press. The Death penalty was abolished. 

The soldiers were content and the owrkers were laso happy as they had the right to strike and organise trade unions and an eight hour working day. 

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Policies of the main groups in March 1917

LIBERALS (Kadets, Octobrists) 

  • Some kadets (including the leader Milyukov) believd the revolution was over and should go no further).
  • Some wanted greater social reform with more power for local centres.
  • Committed to continuing the war and making territorial gains.
  • Wanted to sort land issue out through Constituent Assembly. 
  • They did not want to allow national minorities to break away.
  • Sought to delay the elctions until after the war, when there woulld be a more settled atmosphere. 
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Policies of the main groups in March 1917 2

SOCIALISTS (SRs, Mensheviks, Bolsheviks

  • Prepared to co-operate with the Provisional Governement.
  • Wanted to fight a defensive war only.
  • Wanted to leave the land issue to the constituent assembly.
  • Wanted to offer more self-government to minorities
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April Theses

What were the 'April Theses'?

  • a worldwide socialist revolution
  • an immediate end to the war
  • an end to co-operation with the Provisional Government 
  • the Soviet to take power
  • land to be given to the peasants 

Lenin believed that the middle class were too weak to carry through an entire revolution and that it had to come from the proleteriat. Along with Trotsky, he also believed  a worldwide revolution would start in the weakest country and that weak link was Russia. 

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Problems facing the Provisional Government: War

  • Milyukov, Minister of War, hoped to make territorial gains. This angered the the socialists who only wanted a defensive war. Milyukov was forced to resign. 
  • On the 5th may, five socialist leaders joined the PG. This meant that both the Mensheviks and the SRs were at risk of losing support if the war went badly.
  • In the Summer of 197, the PG launched an offensive agaisnt the Germans for a number of reasons: 1. To honour the treaty with the allies 2. To regain a patriotic element for Russia 3. To help put generals and commanders back in control of the armies.
  • The offensive only resulted in thousands of soldiers fleeing and led to the July Days. 
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Problems facing the Provisional Government: Land

  • There was unrest in the countryside.
  • There was no one to stop the peasants from taking the land that they wanted.
  • The liberals, however, though not against land redistribution, wanted it to be done throught he Consituent Assembly and hoped to compensate the previous land owners. 
  • Chernov's suggestion that the peasants be encouraged to use private land, until such time as ownership could be decided, was ignored. 
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Problems facing the Provisional Government: Econom

  • The railway system showed signs of breaking down.
  • There were shortages of fuel and raw materials.
  • Factory closures.
  • The Government doubled the price that it paid for grain but this was still not enough incentive for peasanst to sell to the cities.
  • Wages for workers were becoming worthless.
  • Th eliberals in the PG were under pressure from industrialists not to fix prices.
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The July Days

The July Days were several uncontrolled days of rioting in the streets. It was parked by the failure of the Summer Offensive, anger at the economic situations and fear of the Petrograd soldiers at being sent to the front. 

20,000 armed sailors from Kronstadt marched to the Tauride Palce, demanding that the Soviets take power. 

When Lenin heard news of the July Days, he adopted a 'wait and see' policy and did not provide coherent leadership. This resulted in a loss of momentum of the demonstrations.

Several Bolsheviks were arrested, including Trotsky, and Lenin was forced to flee to Finland. The Soviet newspaper denounced its leaders and the Bolsheviks suffered a huge decrease in support. 

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