The Russian
Part II-Revolution of 1917-the
rule of Stalin
Russia in WWI
Russia felt it had to defend Serbia to protect it’s
reputation in the Balkans.
Russia also realized that once France was attacked,
Germany would turn to Russia.
Transportation of soldiers, weapons and food was
slow and cumbersome by rail.
Russia defeated Austrian units, but is severely
defeated by Germany in East Prussia (Poland).
After this defeat in July/August 1915, Nicolas II
heads for the front and assumed personal command
of the armed forces.
The Influence of Rasputin
With Nicholas gone to the front, Alexandra exerted
great influence on political appointments.
Alexandra did not act on her own, but sought council
from her confidant Rasputin.
Rasputin was a peasant healer from Siberia who
had stopped the bleeding and suffering of Alexis-heir
to the throne and who suffered from hemophilia.
Rasputin gained influence after Nicholas left for the
Alexandra believed that Rasputin was the “voice of
the people”.
Rasputin Continued….
Rasputin used his influence to take bribes and
engage in questionable behavior.
Nicholas did not really care for Rasputin, but
tolerated him for the sake of his wife. His presence
at court was considered a “family matter”.
Court officials tried to bribe Rasputin to leave
Petrograd, but the empress found out.
The court realized there was no alternative but to
assassinate him.
Rasputin Cont….
On the night of Dec. 16-17, 1916 Rasputin
was lured to the palace of Prince Felix
Iusupov and the Tsar’s nephew, Vladimir
Rasputin was shot and the body weighed
down with chains and thrown into a canal.
The result drove Nicholas and Alexandra
closer together as Nicholas felt “deeply
ashamed for Russia”.
The Russian Revolution
After Nicholas leaves for the front, it seemed like
revolution was in the air.
Alexander Protopopov was the Minister of the
Interior and would send soothing reports to
Food riots and demonstrations break out in February
of 1917. Nicholas demands that these be stopped
by force.
The Petrograd Soviet is organized in response.
By February 27th, the city’s regiments were in
mutiny, the red flag goes up over the Winter Palace
and by nighttime, Petrograd was in the hands of
uniformed peasants.
The Revolution Continues
The Duma vs. the Petrograd Soviet.
A concession is made to the Soviets-Alexander
Kerensky ( a socialist that is admitted to the
Demand the abdication of Nicholas II comes on
February 28th. This issue is what turns a local
mutiny into a national revolution.
Russia becomes a republic on March 17, 1917.
The February Revolution was relatively bloodlessabout 170 were killed.
Government after Nicholas
Nicholas abdicates and is placed under house
With Nicholas gone, there is a power vacuum that is
not initially recognized.
The Provisional Government will try to fill the void
and issued countless laws intended to rectify the
abuses of the old regime, but never created a set of
new institutions to replace those it had destroyed.
How would this power vacuum be filled?
A little document analysis…
Very quickly--read through The Abdication of
Tsar Nicholas on your own.
In your notebook O,P,V,L this document (you
don’t need to do the others in the packet).
Be prepared to share your results with the
large group.
The Bolshevik Revolution
Often referred to as the October Revolution, but
nothing like a revolution.
October was a classic coup capture of the government by
a small band of those who are well organized.
Lenin returns from hiding in Finland and declares
that what is needed to win over the soldiers,
peasants and workers was “peace, land and bread”.
By the night of Oct. 24-25 1917, armed Bolshevik’s
had seized control of Petrograd.
The Single Party State
Lenin comes to power and establishes a regime
unlike any other that had been seen.
An extreme dictatorship exercised by “the party”,
behind the façade of self-rule represented by the
Lenin was the head of the party and by late 1918,
found no opposition remaining.
By March 1918, the party is renamed the Communist Party
However, not everyone agreed with the new regime,
the first to oppose the coup were the intelligentsia.
War Communism
Economic policies of the Bolsheviks between 19181921.
The architects of this plan had only read socialist
theories, none of them had real experience in
business, let alone a nation’s economy.
Nationalization of production and transportation
Liquidation of private property
Abolition of money as means of exchange
Single plan for the entire economy
Compulsory labor for all able-bodied males
Red Terror
Lenin began to fear that the Tsar would take
part in counterrevolutionary events.
Lenin decides to have the Tsar and his family
During the summer of 1918, the Romanov
family was taken to Ekaterinburg. Early in
the morning of July 17, the family was taken
to the basement and shot. Their bodies were
burned and their remains put in a shallow
grave that was not discovered until 1989.
Red Terror Cont….
By Dec. 1917, the Cheka is formed. This will
become the major agent of terror.
Terror was built into the very procedures and
objectives of the Bolshevik regime.
The first step in mass terror was the abolition of law.
A degree in 1917 dissolved nearly all the courts
abolished the legal profession.
During this time, 140,000 people would be killed.
“We must execute not only the guilty. Execution of
the innocent will impress the masses even more”.
Concentration camps were also established for
political prisoners.
-Discuss briefly: Why was Red
Terror necessary?
The Civil War
The Red Army was founded in 1918 and had the
resources of the Tsar at its disposal. Leon Trotsky
was war commissar.
Civil war was the political and social struggle
between the Bolshevik regime and its own citizens.
Lenin welcomed civil war because true
revolutionaries did not want peace. He wanted war
at home and around the globe.
The Civil War Cont….
The Bolsheviks labeled their military opponents as
the “whites”. The whites did not fight for the
restoration of the monarchy, but for a representative
The White Army had few resources, most gained
through the Allies, Great Britain in particular.
The Red Army had nearly 3 million men, while the
White Army never reached more than 250,000.
There were also the “greens” (peasants), “blacks”
Civil War Cont….
There were no real front lines, they were very fluid.
Armies were randomly scattered and would attack
and then retreat. Maps of the war have red, white,
black and green lines running across the map.
The White Army had no government to recruit troops
and the different factions within could not unite.
The Red Army on the other hand was lead very
solidly by Leon Trotsky. While many states declared
their independence and Russia lost territory, it didn’t
matter because the communist regime had survived.
After the Revolution, Coup and
Civil War
1924, The Soviet of Socialist Republics is declared.
Lenin always fearful of death, dies in 1924 at the
age of 54 due to a stroke. Petrograd is renamed
Leningrad in his honor.
The struggle for power begins between Stalin and
Trotsky still believes in permanent revolution, but
fails to carry the rest of the party with him. Stalin
has him exiled to Siberia then out of Russia. Trotsky
continues to write anti-Stalinist materials and is
murdered in Mexico in 1940.
Stalin in Power
In 1928, Stalin launched the First 5-Year Plan. The
goal was rapid industrialization and collectivization
of agriculture.
The First 5-Year Plan was declared a success in
1932 and a Second 5-Year Plan was established
lasting until 1937. A Third 5-Year Plan was
interrupted by WWII.
Collectivization lead to the slaughter of animals by
farmers that no longer cared for things that were not
theirs. This lead to widespread famine.
Stalin’s Purges
Stalin put many new policies in place, and open
disagreement with the policies was not possible.
In 1934, a friend and supporter of Stalin’s was
assassinated. Stalin took this as an opportunity to
strike out against his opponents.
The “Old Bolsheviks” were brought to trial. Most
were put to death for participating in
counterrevolutionary activities and crimes against
the state.
Between 1934-1938, almost 800,000 people were
Through these purges, Stalin’s dictatorship was