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The Russian Revolution, Lenin and Stalin

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1 The Russian Revolution, Lenin and Stalin
East Side Story:

2 Life in Russia from 1850 Already backwards, an Absolutist monarchy and far behind the West in, well, everything, Russia needed enlightened leadership, but instead was stuck with the Romanov Dynasty.

3 The 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War
Seeking to expand its influence in East Asia and colonize Korea and North-East China before the Japanese could, Russia went to war. It was beaten soundly by newly-industrialized Japan. Unable to defeat a non-European power, the Tsar lost much credibility in the Russo-Japanese War, and Russia could no longer convince itself it was a first-rate world power.

4 1905: Bloody Sunday The Problem The Solution Workers in St. Petersburg (the capital at the time) began to demonstrate against Tsar Nicolas II. The loss to Japan humiliated them, but their main concerns were terrible working conditions, low wages, high inflation, and continuation of the Tsar’s Absolutist policies and resistance to any type of change. The Tsar reacted by opening fire on the unarmed demonstrators. He subsequently made a few halfhearted reforms, but Russia remained pretty much immune to modernization.

5 1917: Ready to Collapse By 1917, Russia was on the verge of total collapse: World War I was going poorly and soldiers were deserting, The war had disrupted the economy, putting Russia on the edge of mass starvation, Strikes and riots were increasingly common, Peasants were seizing nobles’ lands as law and order broke down in the countryside, The Tsar had no clue how to fix anything, and was acting as a general on the front lines leaving his wife in charge. She, however, was advised by a self-proclaimed psychic and mystic named Rasputin.

6 1917: The February Revolution
By February 1917, the situation was uncontrollable. Almost the entire working class of St. Petersburg was on strike, there was no bread in the stores, and unlike in 1905 the soldiers joined the protests. Trying to save himself and his family, the Tsar abdicated (stepped down as leader) and fled to Siberia. After the February Revolution, a Provisional Government was established but fared little better.

7 1917: Problems of the Provisional Government
Non-Russian ethnic groups declared independence Few goods getting to stores Runaway inflation Violence used against protestors Refusal to leave World War I Soldiers deserting army Peasant revolts and seizure of land increased Communists demanding further revolution Although it only ruled for half a year, the war and its effects on the economy continued to destroy Russia, needing the support of the landowners it refused to make any meaningful reforms that would help the peasants, and to prevent large-scale revolution it resorted to violence even more frequently than the deposed Tsar. For most Russians, life only got worse after the February Revolution.

8 The Communist Party Russia had a strong and growing Communist Party, led by Vladimir Illych Yulianov , known as Lenin. -> Lenin has been expelled from Russia by the Tsar, and was living in Switzerland. Most big cities’ workers’ councils called Soviets were led by Communists.

9 Russia’s Communists were informally divided into two groups…
Bolsheviks (Lenin’s group) Mensheviks The Bolsheviks wanted to seize power immediately through revolution, and were not afraid to use violence or other crimes to attain power in the name of the working class. The Mensheviks believed in a more gradual approach. They wanted to work with the provisional government and gain power through elections.

10 1917: Lenin’s Arrival (See the actual train) Right after the February revolution, the German government helped Lenin sneak back into St. Petersburg. His rousing speeches made many residents of the city turn to him and the Bolsheviks as a solution to the ineffective Provisional Government. Russia (or at least St. Petersburg) had its new leader.

11 1917: The October Revolution
Promising “Peace, Land, and Bread”, and “All power to the Soviets” the Bolsheviks used their control of the Soviets to announce the overthrow of the government with no protest from organized workers. When they announce their “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, no one (including the army) supported the Provisional Government enough to come to its aid. That’s pretty anticlimactic for a revolution. Although it would not change its name for a couple of years, the Communist Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) was born.

12 1918: The Peace In March, 1918 Lenin makes good on the “Peace” part of his slogan “Peace, Land and Bread!” by signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany. The treaty hands Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine to Germany. (All regions populated by non-Russians). Losing Ukraine was especially harsh, as it contained Russia’s best farmland, coal mines and factories. But with Russia starving and chaos growing, Lenin had no choice. However, these gains were stripped from the Germans by the Treaty of Versailles a year later thus explaining why so many Germans would buy into Hitler’s concept of Lebensraum. Germany thanks you for not pointing out the hypocrisy of making Russia sign such a one-sided treaty of surrender and then complaining when they themselves were forced to sign the treaty of Versailles.

13 Not so Fast, Lenin… By taking over St. Petersburg, the Bolsheviks (renamed the Communists) had gained was a dot on the map of an incredibly vast and diverse country. It would take nearly four miserable years of the Russian Civil War ( ) for the Communists to fully control the country.

14 1918-1921: The Russian Civil War
The Red Army (Communists) The White Army (Everyone Else) The Communists, with anyone straying from Lenin’s interpretation of Marx considered an enemy Many soldiers from WWI (mostly re-drafted into fighting) Some non-Russian nationalities Officers from World War I Supporters of the Tsar Foreign governments including an ill-fated group of American soldiers, Some non-Russian nationalities Anyone opposed to the Communists

15 Results of the Russian Civil War
The Communists were more brutal and willing to kill their own people than the Tsar The Romanov Family was shot The Communists began using secret police to find “enemies” 1.2 million killed in fighting or “supporting the wrong side Communists killed 250,000 peasants who resisted handing over their grain to the Red Army The White Army slaughtered 100,000 Jews (30 years before the Holocaust!) 5 million starved to death.

16 : War Communism This was Lenin’s economic plan during the Russian Civil War The idea of War Communism was to put everything into the effort to win the war. Grain was seized from peasants as needed (and often burned so the other army couldn’t get it), factories were put under state ownership strikes were made illegal, and many returning soldiers were rushed into forced labor—all for the greater good. For all except the true believers of Communism, these were very unpopular policies.

17 1921-1928: New Economic Policy (NEP)
Lenin’s “New Economic Policy” was designed under the assumption that not all commerce is exploitative. Small shops were allowed to exist and turn a profit, but the “commanding heights” of the economy like banking, energy, and transportation stayed firmly in state hands. In the countryside, farmers who fulfilled their quotas and produced more than the government expected of them were allowed to sell their surpluses on the open market. Farm equipment produced by the state was turned over to local party officials who would allow peasants to share it. This era of NEP is considered the “golden age” of Soviet Communism.

18 Early Soviet Successes
Although there was no free speech, labor camps for political opponents, crackdowns on the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Communist ideals of no formal government and worker control of factories seemed like distant dreams, factories were building tractors to give to villages, agriculture improved, and education became widespread for the first time in Russian history.

19 1924: Stalin Takes Over Felled by a series of strokes beginning in late 1921, Lenin dies in Against Lenin’s dying wishes, the ruthless Georgian-born “Man of Steel” Josef Stalin slowly consolidated power, and set about ending Russia’s “backwardness” in one generation. (“Hard Line Speech”)


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