Edexcel A level History option 2C.2 Russia in Revolution 1894-1924 Unit 4

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  • Created on: 15-06-18 11:24

Unit 4: Defending the Bolshevik Revolution

What Steps did the Bolsheviks Take After the October Revolution to Consolidate Their Hold on Power?

·         In the decree that established the Sovnarkom, the Bolsheviks declared that the Constituent Assembly had the power to determine Russia’s political future. However, Lenin had no plan to relinquish the power which he had seized to the CA.

·         In the weeks following the October Revolution, Lenin tried to postpone the elections to the CA, knowing that the Bolsheviks were unlikely to win the majority. So, when the votes came in and the Bolsheviks had won less than a quarter, he claimed that the CA was invalid because there was no choice between pro-Bolshevik left SRs and the right SRs, and soviets were more highly regarded as democratic institutions than the assembly- the Soviets best reflected the will of the people.

·         Before the CA met, the Sovnarkom imposed a number of conditions upon it- voters were to have the right to recall and replace representatives, members had the have their credentials approved by a Bolshevik controlled election commission, and they could only meet if half of their members were present. They were scheduled to open on the 5th January 1918, but 50,000 anti-Bolshevik demonstrators gathered in Petrograd. The Bolsheviks opened fire on them, killing ten. The meeting went ahead anyway, but the Bolsheviks only permitted it to be in session for a day. It was then forcibly disbanded.

·         Peace talks between Russia and Germany began in November 1917, as Lenin was desperate for a quick settlement- Russia was open to German invasion, the workers had been promised peace and Lenin needed to provide this to retain his credibility, and he wanted to overcome the Bolsheviks’ internal enemies, which he could not fully concentrate on until Russia were out of the war.

·         Germany was willing to negotiate with Russia, and a cease fire assumed once peace talks began. However, the price for exiting the war was high. In the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Russia lost Finland, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and the Ukraine. These places contained 26% of Russia’s population, 27% of its arable land and 72% of its coal and iron ore. Lenin urged the acceptance of these terms and threatened to resign should they not be met.

·         The left SRs were hostile towards the treaty because it lost huge amounts of cultivatable land, areas in which their votes were the strongest, and Russia’s army chiefs and middle/upper classes were appalled at the shameful surrender, and now aimed to overthrow the Bolsheviks.

·         Within weeks of seizing power, the Bolsheviks had created a political police force in the form of the Cheka. By 1921 there were 150,000 members of the Cheka. They operated outside of the framework of the ordinary law, with the power to arrest and punish as they saw fit. The Cheka quickly got a reputation for savagery. It became notorious for on the spot


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