The Russian Revolution was a series of revolutions in the Russian Empire from 1905 to 1917. The events destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and helped to create the Soviet Union, which lasted from 1922 to 1991.
|Part of World War I and the Revolutions of 1917–23|
Soviets attacking the Tsar's police in the early days of the February Revolution
|Commanders and leaders|
|Russian Army||Red Guards: 200,000|
|a. Until 15 March 1917.|
The first revolution was on 8 March 1917, but in Russia, it was recorded as 28 February 1917 because Russia still used the Julian calendar until 1918, instead of the Gregorian calendar, which is used today. Tsar Nicholas II was forced to step down and was replaced with the socialist Provisional Government, which was meant to rule for a short time until the country became stable again.
The second revolution, the October Revolution, was in October of the Julian calendar and so the term Red October is used to describe the events although they happened in November of the Gregorian calendar.
During the 1890s, improvements in Russian industry put more jobs in cities. This made the cities larger as people moved there. The workers in the cities, with increasing levels of education, began to develop an interest in politics and the creation of political parties to try to change their lives for the better. The conditions in which they lived and worked in were horrible. Poor people from other parts of the Russian Empire like Poland and Ukraine also created their own parties to try stop the Russians oppressing them.
This added to the people's anger, and after the Tsar's guards fired at a peaceful protest of workers, a rebellion began. That did not really change anything, but Nicholas promised to create an elected Parliament, or Duma.
The Duma was elected for the first time in March 1906. There were both left-wing and right-wing opponents to it, including socialists and people who were very loyal to the Tsar. There were also arguments over whether or not to take power from the Tsar and give it to more ordinary people. Nicholas eventually dissolved the Duma three times, and because that stopped them from being able to say anything against him, people became angry.
In 1914, Russia joined World War I against Germany. At first, people thought that was a good decision, and the country was united by patriotism. However, there were huge problems with supplies, and by 1915, many soldiers were being sent to fight without guns. Communications were bad, and army officers argued so much that they did not make plans well. The soldiers became unhappy, and over 3,000,000 Russians died.
In 1915, the Tsar took personal control of the Russian Army, and moved to the army headquarters. That was a mistake. He did not improve the situation, but he now began to be blamed for it. The fact that he was not near the government also meant that his wife, Queen Alexandra, was left in charge. Whenever the Duma tried to warn her that the people were angry, she would say that they were lying and so she would ignore them. She even ignored a report by the secret police, the Okhrana, which said that a revolution might happen if things did not get better for ordinary people.
February Revolution change
The first revolution began with a series of strikes in early February 1917. People in food queues in Petrograd, began a demonstration and were joined by thousands of women, who left the fabrics factories in which they worked. The strike spread through the capital. By February 25, most of Petrograd's factories had to close.
That evening, Nicholas II sent the chief of the army in Petrograd a telegram, which told him to use his soldiers to stop the strikes. The army chief did so, but the soldiers joined the workers, instead of stopping them, and the police also joined them. The government's power collapsed.
On March 15, Nicholas abdicated, and control of Russia was given to a socialist Provisional (Government.
Conditions from February to October change
After the February Revolution, the Provisional Government was challenged by a large group of workers, the Petrograd Soviet. The government leader, Alexander Kerensky, tried to improve things by allowing freedom of speech and freeing political prisoners, but people were becoming more unhappy because there was not enough food, wages went down, and the national debt grew to 10 million rubles.
Vladimir Lenin arrived in Petrograd in April 1917. He was a communist, and the Provisional Government was socialist. He had been exiled to Switzerland by the Tsar, but the Provisional Government had allowed him to come back. He began to lead a communist group called the Bolsheviks.
In July, the Bolsheviks spent four days demonstrating against the government. The military attacked them. Lenin was forced to escape to Finland until August, when the Bolsheviks were asked to help defend the government against a takeover by the army. The result was that their reputation improved, and the government gave them weapons.
The Provisional Government's reputation kept getting worse. The Bolsheviks' reputation got better because they refused to work with the Provisional Government until both sides compromised.
October Revolution change
On October 10, the Bolsheviks' Central Committee voted to start a revolution. One began in Estonia on October 23. Another started in Petrograd two days later. This time, the revolution was mostly peaceful. The Bolsheviks' Red Army took over many government buildings without a fight, and only two people were killed. It ended with the takeover of the old Tsar's Winter Palace on the morning of October 26, when the Provisional Government was arrested.
The Soviets took power and formed a Congress, a new government, which began on October 25. Some members who were not Bolsheviks walked out during its first few meetings, but that made little difference to its decisions. The people who left were taunted by Leon Trotsky on their way out. He told them to go "where you belong... the dustbin of history!" All parties that opposed the Bolsheviks were eventually broken up, and their leaders were arrested.
The Congress began to get rid of private property. That meant that all land and money was to be owned by the people, and control of factories was given to their workers.
Several countries that had been in the Russian Empire before the Revolution, such as Estonia and Ukraine, had been asking for independence since February. As the new government formed they declared and were allowed independence.
In Russia, enemies of the Bolsheviks organized a White Army and began the Russian Civil War. In July 1918, countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and France, sent more than 15 armies to help the White Armies. The ex-Tsar and his family were shot to stop them from being freed. To win the war, Lenin diverted food and supplies to the Red Army. The plan worked since the Bolsheviks won the war, but between 3 and 10 million people died of hunger.
Some European countries recognized the Soviet Union as a proper country in the early 1920s, but the United States refused to do so until 1933.
Related pages change
- "Russian Revolution - Facts & Summary". History.com.