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Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 Primary sources: Social and economic.

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Presentation on theme: "Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 Primary sources: Social and economic."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 Primary sources: Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917

2 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 Learning targets: understand the social and economic conditions in czarist Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, and how these conditions had an impact on different social classes in Russia prior to and during World War I.

3 learn about four major events between 1900 and 1917 as a result of which the living conditions of social classes in Russia were impacted.

4 describe the consequences of these events, and in what way social and economic conditions in Russia were changed or remained unchanged.

5 Decide if the October Revolution of 1917 could have been avoided or not, and if so, how it could have been avoided

6 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 “The Russian Revolution of 1917 was the result of several major problems of both a social and economic nature.” Task: Assess the validity of the above statement and explain whether of not the Russian Revolution could have been avoided.

7 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 Historical background: At the beginning of the twentieth century, czarist Russia was still an autocratic state based on a feudal economy at an early stage of becoming industrialized. When the Russian Empire lost the Russo-Japanese War of , disappointed nationalism, combined with miserable living conditions, led to a series of spontaneous uprisings, called the Revolution of 1905 – this would be the first of three Russian revolutions.

8 Czarist Russia became involved in the First World War in August 1914 and experienced a series of crippling defeats throughout the war. Russia suffered from incompetent political and military leadership, absence of armament production on an industrial basis, consequently ill-equipped peasant soldiers and mounting losses of millions of soldiers.

9 The forced abdication of Czar Nicholas II in the February Revolution of 1917 led to the establishment of a Provisional Government under Alexander Kerensky that wanted to continue to fight the Germans and Austrians in the “imperialistic world war”. As a result of successful revolutionary agitation and propaganda, Vladimir Lenin’s radical Bolshevik Party overthrew the Provisional Government.

10 The third revolution, the October Revolution, immediately ended Russian involvement in the First World War and began with the establishment of a socialist country with the nationalization of factories, banks, and land. The Bolsheviks had found support of the Russian masses – tired of fighting in World War I - with the simple slogan “Peace, Land, and Bread” – peace for the soldiers, land for the peasants, and bread for the workers.

11 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 “Russian Social Democracy is living through a period of wavering, a period of doubts which approach self-denial. On the one hand, the labor movement separates itself from socialism. On the other, socialism separates itself from the labor movement. … The labor movement, separated from Social Democracy … inevitably becomes bourgeois. … Social Democrats must aspire not to assist labor, but to inculcate socialist ideas and political self-consciousness into the mass of the proletariat and to organize a revolutionary party, indissolubly bound with the spontaneous labor movement. No single class in history has ever attained mastery unless it has provided political leaders, its leading representatives, capable of organizing the movement and leading it. … It is necessary to prepare men who devote to the revolution not only their free evenings, but their whole lives.” Source: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, The Urgent Tasks of Our Movement, November – December 1900

12 “… the spontaneous struggle of the proletariat will not become its genuine ‘class struggle’ until this struggle is led by a strong organization of revolutionaries.” Source: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, What Is to Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement, 1902.

13 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 On January 22, 1905, a priest named Father Gapon led a peaceful march of about 200,000 workers and their families to the Winter Palace is St. Petersburg. The marchers wanted to ask Czar Nicholas II for better working conditions, more personal freedom, and an elected national legislature. The following passage is an excerpt from Father Gapon’s autobiography: I turned rapidly to the crowd and shouted to them to lie down, and I also stretched myself out upon the ground. As we lay thus another volley was fired, and another, and yet another, till it seemed as though the shooting was continuous. The crowd first kneeled and then lay flat down, hiding their heads from the rain of bullets, while the rear rows of the procession began to run away. The smoke of the fire lay before us like a thin cloud, and I felt if stiflingly in my throat. … A little boy of ten years, who was carrying a church lantern, fell pierced by a bullet, but still held the lantern tightly and tried to rise again, when another shot struck him down.”

14 “ We were not more than thirty yards from the soldiers, being separated from them only by the bridge over the Tarakanovskii Canal, which here marks the border of the city, when suddenly, without any warning and without a moment’s delay, was heard the dry crack of many rifle-shots. I was informed later on that a bugle was blown, but we could not hear it above the singing, and even if we had heard it we should not have known what if meant.

15 Vasiliev, with whom I was walking hand in hand, suddenly left hold of my arm and sank upon the snow. One of the workmen who carried the banners fell also. Immediately one of the two police officers to whom I had referred shouted out, ‘What are you doing? How dare you fire upon the portrait of the Tsar?’ This, of course, had no effect, and both he and the other officer were shot down – as I learned afterwards, one was killed and the other dangerously wounded.

16 I turned rapidly to the crowd and shouted to them to lie down, and I also stretched myself out upon the ground. As we lay thus another volley was fired, and another, and yet another, till it seemed as though the shooting was continuous. The crowd first kneeled and then lay flat down, hiding their heads from the rain of bullets, while the rear rows of the procession began to run away. The smoke of the fire lay before us like a thin cloud, and I felt if stiflingly in my throat. … A little boy of ten years, who was carrying a church lantern, fell pierced by a bullet, but still held the lantern tightly and tried to rise again, when another shot struck him down.”

17 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 “Both the smiths who had guarded me were killed, as well as those who were carrying the icons and banners; and all these emblems now lay scattered on the snow. The soldiers were actually shooting into the courtyards of the adjoining houses, where the crowd tried to find refuge and, as I learned afterwards, bullets even struck persons inside, through the windows. “On this day I was born a second time, but now not as an all- forgiving and all-forgetting child, but as an embittered man, prepared to struggle and to triumph.” Source: A St. Petersburg worker after Bloody Sunday, January 1905.

18 Another account states : At last the firing ceased. I stood up with a few others who remained uninjured and looked down at the bodies that lay prostrate around me. I cried to them, ‘Stand up!’ But they lay still. I could not at first understand. Why did they lie there? I looked again, and saw that their arms were stretched out lifelessly, and I saw the scarlet stain of blood upon the snow. Then I understood. It was horrible. And my Vasiliev lay dead at my feet.

19 Horror crept into my heart. The thought flashed through my mind. “And this is the work of our Little Father, the Tsar. Perhaps this anger saved me, for now I knew in very truth that a new chapter was opened in the book of the history of our people. I stood up, and a little group of workmen gathered round me again. Looking backward, I saw that our line, though still stretching away into the distance, was broken and that many of the people were fleeing. It was in vain that I called to them, and in a moment I stood there, the center of a few scores of men, trembling with indignation amid the broken ruins of our movement.” Source: Father Gapon, The Story of My Life, 1905, reprinted in Eyewitness to History, 1987.

20 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 The passages below shows attitudes and social unrest and discrimination experienced in Russia towards the Jews, which resulted in pogroms (massacres of Jewish people): “… the Jews offended our Christ, they grow rich and they suck our blood.” Source: The Center for Online Judaic Studies, Pogroms 1871–1906, Pogrom in Odessa, March 1871 “Do you know, brethren, workmen and peasants, who is the chief author of all our misfortunes? Do you know that the Jews of the whole world … have entered into an alliance and decided to destroy Russia completely? Whenever those betrayers of Christ come near you, tear them to pieces, kill them.” Source: Report by A. A. Lopukhin, Director of the Department of Police to Prime Minister Sergei Witte, October and November 1905, leaflet from a secret printing press located at Police headquarters in St. Petersburg that had printed thousands of anti-Semitic pamphlets, quoted in: The Center for Online Judaic Studies, Pogroms 1871– 1906.

21 “There is thus no room for doubt as to the close connection of the Russian revolution with the Jewish question in general … Nor can it be denied that the practical direction of the Russian revolutionary movement is in the Jewish hands … it is precisely the Jews who are standing at the head of revolutionary movement.” Source: Count Lamzdorf to Tsar Nicholas II, January 1906, quoted in: Klier, John D. and Lambroza, Shlomo, Pogroms, Anti-Jewish Violence in Modern Russian History, Cambridge University Press 1922, p. 222.

22 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution “Number of participants in political strikes: Year: ,000* ,000* ,843, , , , , , , , , (first half) - 1,059, , , (January-February) - 575,000” Source: Source: Leon Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution, volume one: The Overthrow of Tzarism, chapter 3: The proletariat and the Peasantry, *Note: The figures for 1903 and 1904 refer to all strikes, the economic ones undoubtedly predominating.

23 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 “The Russian proletariat learned its first steps in the political circumstances created by a despotic state. Strikes forbidden by law, underground circles, illegal proclamations, street demonstrations, encounters with the police and with troops – such was the school created by the combination of a swiftly developing capitalism with an absolutism slowly surrendering its positions.

24 The concentration of the workers in colossal enterprises, the intense character of governmental persecution, and finally the impulsiveness of a young and fresh proletariat, brought it about that the political strike, so rare in western Europe, became in Russia the fundamental method of struggle. The figures of strikes from the beginning of the present century are a most impressive index of the political history of Russia.” Source: Leon Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution, volume one: The Overthrow of Tzarism, chapter 3: The proletariat and the Peasantry, 1930.

25 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 “ Does it matter, gentlemen, as a practical question, whether we are, in the present case, dealing with stupidity or with treason? … The government persists in claiming that organizing the country means organizing a revolution and deliberately prefers chaos and disorganization. What is it, stupidity or treason? … You must realize, also, why it is that we, too, have no other task left us today, than the task which I have already pointed out to you: to obtain the retirement of this Government. You ask, ‘How can we start a fight while the war is on?’ But, gentlemen, it is only in wartime that they are a menace. They are a menace to the war, and it is precisely for this reason, in time of war and in the name of war, for the sake of that very thing which induced us to unite, that we are now fighting them.” Source: Pavel Miliukov, “stupidity or treason” speech in the Duma, the Russian parliament, accusing the czarist government of incompetence, November 14, 1916, translation from Frank Alfred Golder, editor, Documents of Russian History, , Gloucester, Mass, 1964.

26 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 “… There is no revelation here for readers of Machiavelli and Vauban who were as experts in the arts of the defense as of the destruction of a position, and judged by its faults. But here we should pay careful attention: if it is obvious that the theory of the weakest link guided Lenin in his theory of the revolutionary party (it was to be faultlessly united in consciousness and organization to avoid adverse exposure and to destroy the enemy), it was also the inspiration for his reflections on the revolution itself. How was this revolution possible in Russia, why was it victorious there? It was possible in Russia for a reason that went beyond Russia because with the unleashing of imperialist war humanity entered into an objective revolutionary situation. Imperialism tore off the ‘peaceful’ mask of the old capitalism. The concentration of the industrial monopolies, their subordination to financial monopolies, had increased the exploitation of the workers and of the colonies. Competition between the monopolies made war inevitable.” Source: Louis Althusser, French philosopher, Notes for an Investigation, part III, “For Marx”, Contradiction and Overdetermination, 1962.

27 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 Cartoon from a Russian newspaper, 1917:

28 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 ”Between us and them it is an impassable gulf. No matter how well they get on with individual officers, in their eyes we are all barins. When we talk about the narod, we mean the nation, when they talk about it, they understand it as meaning only the democratic lower classes. In their eyes, what has occurred is not a political but a social revolution, which in their opinion they have won and we have lost. … We can find no common language: that is the accursed heritage of the old regime.” Source: An officer of the Pavlovskii Regiment, Spring 1917, published in : Hew Strachan, The First World War, 2003.

29 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 “The Russian people turned out to be psychologically inadequately prepared for war. The great majority of them, the peasants, scarcely had any definite idea of why they were being called up for the front. The aims of the war were unclear to them.” Source: Yuri Danilov, general of the Russian Imperial Army, discussing the effects of World War I, quoted in: Russia: people and empire, , p. 457.

30 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 “… the cold, lifeless official patriotism demanded by the government in its insistence on obedience to the Czarist trinity of "absolutism, orthodoxy, nationality"; the utter defenselessness of the weak before the strong— such was the system governing the life of the army and navy in This idea was replaced by the detested empty formula, "for the Czar, the Faith and the Fatherland." The general conception of the service prevalent everywhere was one of a difficult, uninteresting and detestable task. The commanding bodies were marked by an astonishing absence of any feeling of personal responsibility. The result was an icy officialdom and soulless bureaucracy.” Source: Source: Alexander Kerensky: The Catastrophe, chapter V, Restoration of the Front – the Old Army, 1927.

31 Nowhere in Russia were the remains of serfdom more conspicuous than in the daily life in the army barracks. This serfdom persisted not only in the attitude and contact of the aristocratic officer class towards the good and simple peasant soldier, not only in the lack of responsibility on the part of the officers with regard to the plain human dignity and self-respect of the men, who were compelled to tolerate physical punishment without protest, but in the entire blind code of brutal discipline, and obedience, in the absence of any invigorating idea of national service.

32 This idea was replaced by the detested empty formula, "for the Czar, the Faith and the Fatherland." The general conception of the service prevalent everywhere was one of a difficult, uninteresting and detestable task. The commanding bodies were marked by an astonishing absence of any feeling of personal responsibility. The result was an icy officialdom and soulless bureaucracy.” Source: Source: Alexander Kerensky: The Catastrophe, chapter V, Restoration of the Front – the Old Army, 1927.

33 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 “Comrades, in entering the Provisional Government I remain a Republican. In my work I must lean for help on the will of the people. I must have in the people my powerful support. May I trust you as I trust myself? I cannot live without the people, and if ever you begin to doubt me, kill me. I declare to the Provisional Government that I am a representative of the democracy, and that the Government must especially take into account the views I shall uphold as representing the people, by whose efforts the old Government was overthrown.” Source: Alexander Kerensky, Minister of Justice, Minister of War and Minister-Chairman of the 1917 Russian Provisional Government, speech in the Duma, March 1, 1917.

34 “On July twenty-first, I again repeated my last order for the merciless application of armed force against insubordination at the front. I called the attention of the commissars and commanders to the Provisional Government's proclamation of July nineteenth, prohibiting agitation against the government and the War among the troops. … On July twenty-first an order was made public, by unanimous decision of the Provisional Government, restoring capital punishment and providing for the establishment of court-martial at the front. At the same time the government restored military censorship, giving to the Minister of the Interior, by agreement with the Minister of War, the right to suppress newspapers and fly-by-night sheets, to prohibit meetings, make arrests without the usual court warrants, to expel from Russia by executive order persons considered dangerous to the safety of the nation and in general to take the measures found necessary in the interest of national security and defense.” Source: Alexander Kerensky, relating to the events of the summer 1917, in: The Catastrophe, chapter 11, The Nation’s Victory, 1927.

35 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 “Order No. 1: To the garrison of the Petrograd Military Police. To all soldiers of the Guards, the army, the artillery, and to the navy, for immediate and precise execution, and for the information of the workers of Petrograd: 1. All companies, battalions, regiments, artillery parks, batteries and individual units of all categories and on vessels of the navy are to choose committees of elected representatives from the rank and file of the aforementioned military units. 2. All military units which have not yet chosen representatives to the Soviet of Workmen's Deputies are to do so, on the basis of one representative for each company, who is to appear with a written certificate in the Duma building, at ten o'clock in the morning, March seventeenth. 3. In all their political activities military units are to regard themselves as subordinate to the Soviet of Workmen's and Soldiers' Deputies and to their respective committees. 4. All kinds of arms, such as rifles, guns, armored automobiles, etc., must remain in the hands and under the control of district and battalion committees and must under no circumstances be placed at the disposal of officers, even upon their demand. 5. In the execution of their service duties and in their respective units, soldiers must maintain the strictest military discipline, but outside the service, in their political, civic and private life, soldiers cannot in any way be restricted in their rights, such as are enjoyed by citizens. 6. Simultaneously, all titles in addressing officers are abolished, such as ‘Your Excellency,’ ‘Your Honor,’ etc., being substituted by the salutation: ‘Mr. General,’ ‘Mr. Colonel,’ etc. Impolite and rough behavior towards soldiers on the part of officers of all ranks, including the salutation ‘thou,’ is forbidden, and all violations of this, as well as all misunderstandings between officers and soldiers are to be brought by the latter to the attention of the company committees. The present order is to be read to all companies, battalions, regiments, crews, batteries and other commands.” Source: PETROGRAD SOVIET OF WORKMEN'S AND SOLDIERS' DEPUTIES, Order No. 1, March 14, 1917

36 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 “Private property should be abolished. All land … should be handed over to the toiling people. Only those who cultivate the land can claim a right to it. … I believe that land means freedom. It is wrong to pay the landowners for the land. Will we be any better off if we wait for the Constituent Assembly to resolve the land question? In the past, the government decided the land question was for us, but their efforts only led us into bondage. … The land question should be resolved now, and we should not put our trust blindly in the political parties.” Source: A delegate at the Samara peasant guberniia, March 1917, published in: Russia: people and empire, 1552 – 1917, p. 469.

37 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 VLADIMIR ILYICH LENIN: The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution, a.k.a. Lenin’s APRIL THESES (summary, excerpts), April 1917: “All Power to the Soviets!” “1. Under the new (bourgeois) Provisional government of [Count] Lvov and others, Russia’s part remains the same in a predatory imperialist war. Because of the capitalist nature of that government, no concessions can be made. All annexations must be renounced in deed and not in word; the war must be ended with a truly democratic peace, not imposed by violence. 2. In the second stage of the revolution, power, which is now in the hands of the bourgeoisie, must be placed in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest section of the peasants aligned with the proletariat. 3. No support for the Provisional government; it is a government of capitalists, all its promises are false. 4. The masses must be made to see that the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies are the only possible form of a revolutionary government. As long as we are in the minority we carry on the work of criticizing and exposing errors and at the same time we preach the necessity of transferring the entire state power to the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies. … 5. Not a parliamentary republic … but a republic of Soviets of Workers’, Agricultural Laborers’ and Peasants’ Deputies throughout the country, from top to bottom. Abolition of the police, the army [and replacement with a workers’ militia] and the [old] bureaucracy [with a workers’ administration]. … 6. Confiscation of all landed estates. Nationalization of all lands in the country, the land to be disposed of by the local Soviets of Agricultural Laborers’ and Peasants’ Deputies. 7. The immediate union of all banks in the country into a single national bank, and the institution of control over it by the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies. 8. It is not our immediate task to ‘introduce’ socialism, but only to bring social production and the distribution of products at once under the control of the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies. 9. Proclaim a Communist Party and change the party’s program, [such as] on imperialism and imperialist war. 10. [After the failure of the Second International to prevent the first World War:] Establish a new (communist) International.” Source: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution, also know as the April Theses read at two meetings of the All-Russia Conference of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, on April 4, 1917, published in Pravda No. 26, 1917.

38 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 The Kerensky Offensive in July 1917: “The Russian army was, of course, no longer capable of carrying out in any measure the plan of a general offensive worked out in January. If during the three years preceding the Revolution the Russian troops failed to win a single decisive victory over the German armies (only on the Austro-Galician and the Caucasus fronts were there any victories), it was quite futile to think of victory now, in the summer of 1917.

39 But a victory was not necessary! As President Wilson declared categorically before Congress, it was the Russian Revolution which made it possible for America to enter the War and thus alter fundamentally the ratio of the contending forces In the War. As late as January, 1917, the war situation made it imperative for Russia and her Allies to bend all their energies to bring the War to an end by the autumn of 1917.

40 But in the summer of 1917 it became necessary only to keep going until the arrival of the American army on the Western Front, with all its tremendous resources. This general Allied task expressed itself, so far as Russia was concerned, in a new strategic aim: we were no longer required to engage in a general offensive, but to compel the Germans to keep as many divisions as possible on the Russian Front until the conclusion of the campaign of 1917, i.e., until the autumn.” Source: Alexander Kerensky, reflections concerning the Kerensky Offensive in July 1917, in: The Catastrophe, chapter IX, The Offensive – Its Inevitability, 1927.

41 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution “The Right to Issue Laws: 1. From now on until the convocation of the Constituent Assembly the preparation and drafting of laws shall be carried out by the Provisional Government of Workers and Peasants elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies in the order set forth in the present regulations. 2. Each law project is to be submitted to the government by the respective Commissariat concerned, over the signature of the corresponding People’s Commissar; or it may be submitted by the Bureau of Legislative Projects attached to the government over the signature of the chief of the department. 3. After it has passed the government, the decree in its final wording is to be signed in the name of the Russian Republic by the President of the Soviet of the People’s Commissars or, acting in his stead, by the People’s Commissar who submitted the said decree for the consideration of the government; it will then be published for general information. … 6. The publication of government decrees by the State Senate is suspended. The Bureau of Legislative Projects attached to the Soviet of the People’s Commissars is to publish periodically digests of those decrees and ordinances of the government, which have become laws. 7. The Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies has a right to defer, modify, or annul any decisions of the government.” Source: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, President of the Soviet of People’s Commissars, Decree of Sovnarkom, November 12, 1917.

42 Social and economic conditions in czarist Russia prior to and during World War I leading to the October Revolution 1917 “… A local ‘land committee’, regarding Begichevo as already its own property, prevented me from selling anything, even from the harvest or newborn livestock, and yet demanded that agricultural activity should continue at its usual high level. Wages were rising but labor productivity was falling disastrously. The land committees insisted that expenses on the estate should be covered not from the revenues but from elsewhere: ‘Withdraw money from your bank!’ Of course, with the best will in the world, it was impossible to run an estate in these conditions.” Source: Prince Sergei Trubetskoi, about his estate in Moscow, 1917, published in: Russia: people and empire, 1552 – 1917, p. 469.


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