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Russian Revolution of 1917


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The major events of the RUSSIAN REVOLUTION, a series of two revolutions in RUSSIA in 1917. The first revolution in March (O.S. February) deposed TSAR NICHOLAS II. The second revolution in November (O.S. October) toppled the Provisional Government and handed power to the Bolsheviks, giving way to the rise of the SOVIET UNION (U.S.S.R.), the world's first communist state.

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Russian Revolution of 1917

  1. 1. Russian Revolution of 1917
  2. 2. What was the Russian Revolution of 1917? • The Russian Revolution was a series of two revolutions in Russia in 1917 that toppled the Tsarist autocracy and gave way to the rise of the Soviet Union. • The first revolution in February 1917 (March in the Gregorian calendar; Russia still used the older Julian calendar at the time) led to Tsar Nicholas II’s abdication from power and a provisional government. • Along with it evolved grassroots community gatherings, known as soviets, which struggled for power. • In the second revolution in October, the Provisional Government was deposed; all power was handed to the soviets and Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks.
  3. 3. Background • By 1917, the promise between the tsar and most of the Russian people had been shattered. • Governmental corruption and disorganization were widespread. • The tsar’s unreasonable and repressive policies, including the occasional dissolution of the Duma, or Russian parliament–the main cause of the 1905 revolution–had provoked disappointment even to moderate factions. • The Russian Empire’s numerous ethnic minorities became gradually restless under Russian rule.
  4. 4. The Russian Empire in 1913
  5. 5. Background – cont. • It was the government’s ineffective action during World War I that ultimately delivered the trial the old régime could not fulfill. • Badly armed and poorly led, Russian armies underwent disastrous fatalities in campaign after campaign against German armies. • The war made revolution certain in two ways: it showed Russia was no longer a military match for the nations of Central and Western Europe, and it despairingly distorted the economy.
  6. 6. First Revolution (February 1917) • Demonstrations resulting from shortage of food broke out in the capital, Petrograd (formerly Saint Petersburg), on February 24 (N.S. March 8); when most of the Petrograd battalion joined the uprising, Tsar Nicholas II was forced to step down on March 2 (N.S. March 15). • When his brother, Grand Duke Michael, turned down the throne, more than 300 years of the Romanov dynasty’s rule ended.
  7. 7. March 16, 1917 publication of the New-York Tribune the day after Nicholas II’s abdication
  8. 8. Wives of soldiers demand increased allocations in a demonstration beside the Nevsky Prospect, Petrograd, on International Women’s Day, February, 1917
  9. 9. Provisional Government (July–October 1917) • A commission of the Duma assigned a Provisional Government to succeed the autocracy, but it dealt with an opponent in the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. • The 2,500 delegates to this soviet were chosen from factories and military units in and around Petrograd. • The Soviet momentarily proved that it had superior authority over the Provisional Government, which preferred to continue Russia’s involvement in World War I. • On March 1 (N.S. March 14), the Soviet delivered its famous Order No. 1, which commanded the military to obey only the orders of the Soviet and not those of the Provisional Government. • The Provisional Government unsuccessfully revoked the order. • All that now stopped the Petrograd Soviet from explicitly declaring itself the real government of Russia was concern of inciting a conservative coup.
  10. 10. Formation of the Petrograd Soviet, 1917
  11. 11. Petrograd Order No. 1
  12. 12. Provisional Government (July–October 1917) – cont. • Between March and October, the Provisional Government was restructured four times. • The first government (right) consisted wholly of liberal ministers; the sole exception was the Socialist Revolutionary Aleksandr Kerensky (front row, no.1). • The successive governments were coalitions. • Nevertheless, none of them could sufficiently handle the major problems affecting the country: confiscation of peasant land, nationalist independence activities in non-Russian regions, and the failure of army confidence at the front.
  13. 13. Provisional Government (July–October 1917) – cont. • Meanwhile, soviets on the Petrograd model, in much closer contact with the views of the people than the Provisional Government was, had been planned in cities and major towns and in the army. • In these soviets, “defeatist” attitude (supporting pulling out of the war on practically any conditions) was increasing. • One cause was the radical socialists’ growing authority over the soviet movement. • At the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets (right), assembled on June 3 (N.S. June 16), the Socialist Revolutionaries were the leading single coalition, followed by the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks.
  14. 14. Provisional Government (July–October 1917) – cont. • Kerensky became leader of the Provisional Government in July and put down a coup attempted by army commander in chief Lavr Georgiyevich Kornilov (some historians have claimed that Kerensky may have originally conspired with Kornilov in the aspiration of winning control over the Petrograd Soviet). • However, he was gradually unable to prevent Russia from falling into political, economic, and military turmoil; his party thus suffered a considerable split as the left wing broke from the Socialist Revolutionary Party. • While the Provisional Government’s power diminished, that of the soviets was growing, as was the Bolsheviks’ power within them. • By September, the Bolsheviks and their associates, the Left Socialist Revolutionaries, had surpassed the Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, and acquired majorities in both the Petrograd and Moscow soviets.
  15. 15. Second Revolution (October 1917) • By autumn, the Bolshevik program of “peace, land, and bread” had won the party significant support among the hungry city workers and the soldiers, who were by now leaving from the lines in substantial numbers. • Despite the failure of a previous coup attempt (the July Days, opposite), the time now seemed right. • On October 24–25 (N.S. November 6–7), the Bolsheviks and Left Socialist Revolutionaries staged an almost nonviolent coup, capturing and taking control of government buildings, telegraph stations, and other strategic points. • Kerensky’s attempt to prepare resistance proved ineffective; he fled Russia immediately. • The Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, which assembled in Petrograd concurrently with the coup, permitted the formation of a new government consisting primarily of Bolshevik delegates.
  16. 16. Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin speaking to his followers, October, 1917
  17. 17. Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, November, 1917
  18. 18. Sources • •