Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a political movement in Russia that climaxed in 1917 with the overthrow of the provisional government that had replaced the Russian Tsar system, and led to the establishment of the Soviet Union, which lasted until its collapse in 1991. The Revolution can be viewed in two distinct phases. The first one was that of the February Revolution of 1917, which displaced the autocracy of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the last effective Tsar of Russia, and sought to establish in its place a liberal republic. The second phase was the October Revolution, in which the Soviets, inspired and increasingly controlled by Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik party, seized power from the Provisional Government. The revolution affected both the urban areas and the countryside. While many notable historical events occurred in Moscow and St. Petersburg, there was also a broadbased movement in the rural areas as peasants seized and redistributed land.
Main article: February Revolution.
The February Revolution came about almost spontaneously when people of Petrograd protested against the Czarist regime because of food shortages in the city.
There was also great dissatisfaction with Russia's continued involvement in the First World War. As the protests grew, various political reformists (both liberal and radical left) started to coordinate some activity. In early February the protests turned violent as large numbers of city residents rioted and clashed with police and soldiers. When the bulk of the soldiers garrisoned in the Russian capital Petrograd joined the protests, they turned into a revolution ultimately leading to the abdication of Czar Nicholas II in a nearly bloodless transition of power.
A new Provisional Government was formed, also called the Duma, while elections were being planned. Between February and October revolutionists attempted to foment further change, working through the Petrograd Soviet or more directly. In July, the Petrograd Bolsheviks, in combination with the Petrograd anarchists, fomented a civil revolt. This revolt failed.
Main article: October Revolution.
The October Revolution was led by Lenin and was based upon the ideas of Karl Marx. It marked the beginning of the spread of communism in the twentieth century. It was far less sporadic than the revolution of February and came about as the result of deliberate planning and coordinated activity to that end. On November 7, 1917, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin led his leftist revolutionaries in a nearly bloodless revolt against the ineffective Provisional Government (Russia was still using the Julian Calendar at the time, so period references show an October 25 date). The October Revolution ended the phase of the revolution instigated in February, replacing Russia's short-lived democratic government with a bolshevik one. Although many bolsheviks (such as Leon Trotsky) supported a soviet democracy , the 'reform from above' model gained definitive power when Lenin died and Stalin gained control of the USSR. Trotsky and his supporters, as well as a number of other democratically-minded communists, were persecuted and eventually imprisoned or killed.
After October 1917, many Esers (Socialist-Revolutionaries) and Russian Anarchists opposed the Bolsheviks through the soviets. When this failed, they revolted in a series of events calling for "a third revolution." The most notable instances were the Tambov rebellion, 1919 - 1921, and the Kronstadt rebellion in March 1921. These movements, which made a wide range of demands and lacked effective coordination, were eventually crushed during the Civil War.
Main article: Russian Civil War.
The Russian Civil War, which broke out in 1918 shortly after the revolution, brought death and suffering to millions of people regardless of their political orientation. The war was fought mainly between the "Reds", the communists and revolutionaries, and the "Whites" - the monarchists, conservatives, liberals and socialists who opposed the Bolshevik Revolution. The Whites had backing from nations such as the UK and USA.
Also during the Civil War, Nestor Makhno led a Ukrainian anarchist movement which generally cooperated with the Bolsheviks. However, a Bolshevik force under Mikhail Frunze destroyed the Makhnovist movement, when the Makhnovists refused to merge into the Red Army. In addition, the so-called "Green Army" (nationalists and anarchists) played a secondary role in the war, mainly in Ukraine.
The Russian revolution was intended to spread across the world. Lenin and Trotsky said that the goal of socialism in Russia would not be realized without the success of the German Revolution. However, Stalin later rejected this idea, stating that socialism was possible in one country, even one as underdeveloped as Russia. Many leftists claim that Stalin's model of socialism (also known as Stalinism) was closer to state capitalism than actual Marxist socialism.
Brief Chronology leading to Revolution of 1917
Dates are correct for the Julian calendar, which was used in Russia until 1918. It was twelve days behind the Gregorian calendar during the 19th century and thirteen days behind it during the 20th century.
- 1855 - Start of reign of Tsar Alexander II
- 1861 - Emancipation of the serfs
- 1866-74 - The White Terror -->*1881 - Alexander II assassinated; Succeeded by Alexander III
- 1883 - First Russian Marxist group formed
- 1894 - Start of reign of Nicholas II
- 1898 - First Congress of Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP)
- 1900 - Foundation of Socialist Revolutionary Party (SR)
- 1903 - Second Congress of Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Beginning of split between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.
- 1904-5 - Russo-Japanese War
- 1905 - Russian Revolution of 1905.
- January - Bloody Sunday in St. Petersburg.
- June - Battleship Potemkin uprising at Odessa on the Black Sea (see movie The Battleship Potemkin)
- October - general strike, St Petersburg soviet formed
- 1906 - First State Duma. Prime Minister - Petr Stolypin. Agrarian reforms begin
- 1907 - Second State Duma, February - June
- 1907 - Third State Duma, until 1912
- 1911 - Stolypin assassinated
- 1912 - Fourth State Duma, until 1917. Bolshevik - Menshevik split final
- 1914 - Germany declares war on Russia
- 1915 - Serious defeats, Nicholas II declares himself Commander in Chief. Progressive Bloc formed.
- 1916 - Gregory Rasputin killed
Expanded Chronology of Revolution of 1917
- Strikes and unrest in Petrograd
- February Revolution
- 26th -- 50 demonstrators killed in Znamenskaya Square
- 27th -- Troops refuse to fire on demonstrators, desertions. Prison, courts, and police stations attacked and looted by angry crowds.
- 1st -- Order No.1 of the Petrograd Soviet
- 2nd -- Nicholas II abdicates. Provisional Government formed under Prime Minister Prince Lvov
- 3rd -- Return of Lenin to Russia. He publishes his April Theses.
- 20th -- Miliukov's note published. Provisional Government falls.
- 5th -- New Provisional Government formed. Kerensky made minister of war and navy
- 3rd -- First All-Russian Congress of Soviets in Petrograd. Closed on 24th.
- 16th -- Kerensky orders offensive against Austro-Hungarian forces. Initial success.
- 2nd -- Russian offensive ends. Trotsky joins Bolsheviks.
- 4th -- Anti-government demonstrations in Petrograd
- 6th -- German and Austro-Hungarian counter-attack. Russians retreat in panic, sacking the town of Tarnopol. Arrest of Bolshevik leaders ordered.
- 7th -- Lvov resigns. Kerensky is new PM
- 22nd -- Trotsky and Lunacharskii arrested
- 26th -- Second coalition government ends
- 27th -- General Lavr Kornilov failed coup. Kornilov arrested and imprisoned.
- 1st -- Russia declared a republic
- 4th -- Trotsky and others freed. Trotsky becomes head of Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies.
- 25th -- Third coalition government formed
- 10th -- Bolshevik Central Committee meeting approves armed uprising
- 11th -- Congress of Soviets of the Northern Region, until 13th
- 20th -- First meeting of the Military Revolutionary Committee (Revolutionary Soviet Committee) of the Petrograd Soviet
- 25th -- October Revolution is launched as MRC directs armed workers and soldiers to capture key buildings in Petrograd. Winter Palace attacked at 9.40pm and captured at 2am. Kerensky flees Petrograd. Opening of the 2nd All-Russian Congress of Soviets .
- 26th -- Second Congress of Soviets: Mensheviks and right SR delegates walk out in protest against the previous day's events. Decree on Peace and Decree on Land. Soviet government declared - the Council of People's Commissars (Bolshevik dominated with Lenin as chairman).
- Ten Days that Shook the World, by John Reed: ISBN 0140182934
- A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924, by Orlando Figes : ISBN 014024364X (trade paperback) ISBN 0670859168 (hardcover)
- Soviet history archive at www.marxists.org
- Ten Days that Shook the World, by John Reed
- Year One of the Russian Revolution from the Victor Serge Internet Archive on Marxists Internet Archive. Translation, editor's Introduction, and notes © 1972 by Peter Sedgwick. Retrieved April 5, 2005.
- Arsenal aka Арсенал aka January Uprising in Kiev in 1918 (IMDB profile). Written and Directed by Aleksandr Dovzhenko . Runtime: USA:70 min. Soviet Union / Ukraine. Language: Russian / Ukrainian. Black and White. Silent. 1928.
- Konets Sankt-Peterburga aka The End of St. Petersburg (IMDB profile). Directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin and Mikhail Doller (co-director). Written by Nathan Zarkhi. 80 min. Soviet Union. Black and White. Silent. 1927. Russian. Rural youth caught up in 1917 revolution.
- Lenin v 1918 godu aka Lenin in 1918 (IMDB profile). Directed by Mikhail Romm and E. Aron (co-director). Runtime: USA:130 min. 1939.
- Oktyabr aka October aka Ten Days that Shook the World (USA) (IMDB profile). Directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov . Runtimes: Sweden:104 min, USA:95 min. Country: Soviet Union. Black and White. Silent. 1927.
- Reds (IMDB profile). Directed by Warren Beatty. Based on the book Ten Days that Shook the World. Runtime: 194 min. Country: USA. Language: English / Russian / German. Color (Technicolor). Stereo. 1981.
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