Russian Revolution

What was it?


Actually TWO revolutions:

February/March of 1917

– overthrow of the Tzar


October/November of 1917

– Bolshevik

(Communist) Revolution

Why Important?




Led to Russia withdrawing from WWI to deal with internal problems.


” an

“ idea.

” put into effect instead of just

Conflicting ideologies

– communism vs. capitalism

– was the reason for the Cold


So what is Communism Anyway?

Communism is an ECONOMIC system.

Part of Karl Marx

’ s theory of economics.

Says that all the

“ means of production

” should be owned by the government for the good of the people

– everyone

“ owns

” everything and shares in the profits.

Nice ideas

– no hunger, everyone works to the

“ best of their ability,

” and everyone gets just what they need.

Fails to take into account that we humans are greedy and lazy!

Intellectual Marxism

Karl Marx said that all of history is based upon economics (very good argument).

Marx saw an evolution of economics

– hunting and gathering

 small farming

 manoralism

 business)

 commercial enterprise (small cottage industry (make stuff at home to sell)

 industrial revolution (so far, so good)

More Intellectual Marxism

Marx was living during the Industrial Revolution and what he saw was very disturbing.

Workers paid just enough to survive

Factory owners making huge profits and getting greedier

– how to make more money?

Longer working hours, same pay, poor working conditions, dangerous working situations

– up to 40% of workers would be seriously injured or killed while working in a factory

Marx said that the working conditions and poor wages of the factory workers would not continue, that SOMEDAY workers would join together (

“ workers of the world unite

) and the proletariat would overthrow the owners and seize property to own jointly and to benefit EVERYONE

What does Marx have to do with Russia?

Very little

– Marx said that first a country had to go through the Industrial Revolution

Russia had not been industrialized and it was still a feudal society!

Russia had SOME factories, but 90% of the population of Russia were either serfs or peasants

– they lived on the land – feudalism.

Wait! I thought the serfs were freed in


Technically they were; HOWEVER, they had to actually

“ buy

” their freedom and they had

20 years to do so, BUT how can you pay for your freedom when you can

’ t leave your land and find a job? Oh, wait, there weren

’ t any jobs except on land and only peasants and serfs could work on the land!

How did some do it?

They fought in the army, but most of them died

– very high casualty rates!

So we have peasants and serfs and…


– made up about 5% of the populations, were basically all related through one of eight noble families (Romanov,

Stroganov, etc.), and they owned about 80% of the land (and they are not selling it for anything).

What about the other 20% of the land?

Well, some serfs became peasants and did buy some land. These land-owning peasants are called Kulaks.

They got this land through the same law that freed the serfs

– said if they could buy their freedom they also had 20 years to pay on a small piece of land.

The nobles aren

’ t giving up anymore land!

So why choose horrible communism? We know it doesn ’ t work!

We know because hindsight is 20/20, but it sounded good to 90% of the Russian population in 1917.

So they made this choice?

Land of Mickey

Mouse and


Stand in long lines and hope to get items to survive!

Instead of…

No they made this choice…?


– everybody has something and no one goes hungry!

Living in abject poverty with no chance of ever advancing!

Let ’ s Get Back to the


Nicholas I (1825-1855)

Was the third son of

Paul I

Was the Brother of

Alexander I, who died childless

Nicholas strove to serve country

’ s needs

– Good Czar

Alexander II (1855-1881)

Son of Nicholas I.

He came to the throne during the Crimean


Emancipated the serfs in 1861

– still a good


Alexander III (1881-1894)

Increased the repressive powers of the police

Limited the power of the local assemblies

Programs against anyone who was not


Sounds like a mean


Nicholas II (1894-1917)

Humiliating outcome of the

Russo-Japanese war led to

The Revolution of 1905.

Soon curtailed the Dumas


Decided to lead troops into battle during WWI

– stupid idea by a stupid man.

In 1917, unrest continued and he had to abdicate

Bloody Sunday-January 22, 1905

Began in St Petersburg

Disaster of Russo-Japanese War revealed corruption and incompetence of czar

Octobrist Party

Constitutional Democratic Party

World War I/ Rasputin

Had control over the

Tsar Nicholas II and the


Was murdered in

December 1916

World War I was a disaster.

The Revolutions of 1917

February Revolution (March 8, 1917)

Czar Nicholas Abdicates

Then what happens?

For the next few months there is a

“ president


– who rules and keeps Russia in WWI.

In April, VI Lenin arrives in Petrograd (St.

Petersburg) with the help of the Germans

Lenin believes the communist system could work in


Lenin calls for armed resurrection

October 16, 1917/November 6, 1917 (Russian

Calendar) revolution led by the Bolsheviks


Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin are now

“ in charge

What happens next?

Glad you asked

– Civil War

Civil War broke out between two groups of

Marxists (Communists)

Bolsheviks (means

“ majority

” in Russian, but in fact they had fewer members)


Menshoviks (means

“ minority

” in Russian, had fewer members, but this is what the Bolsheviks called them, so it stuck) -- WHITES

What was the difference?


– they both agreed on the economic system of government; however, should people be allowed to

“ vote

” or should those most

“ capable

” rule.

Lenin voted for the later and by 1920, Russia was firmly under his control.

Treaty of Brest Litovsk—

March 3, 1918

Lost 32% of the land

Lost Estonia,

Latvia, Lithuania

Much of the


Much of


Lenin didn

’ t care

– this was a capitalist war

Civil War and Lenin

’ s Rule

From 1918-




Creation of USSR

Nationalization of all land and banks

New Economic Plan


Lenin dies of a stroke

Power Struggle after Lenin ’ s Death and

Stalin ’ s Rule

Forced collectivization

The Great Famine

The Great Terror



Winners and Losers


Communist Party

Some Workers

Massive Literacy Project

— all those who learn to read and write

Vastly improved health care

—all those who lived longer and healthier



Poorest peasants

Traditional Russian upper classes

Many of those in traditional

Russian middle classes

Those killed or imprisoned because of oppressive regime

Jews, Muslims, other ethnic minorities


– the royal family was killed, and their bodies were

“ secretly

” disposed of

– led to rumors of their survival

True communists