Reasons for going to war in 1914 Victory = Popularity for the Tsar Allied with Britain and France they had the upper hand. Expectation that it would be a short war.
Defeats instead of Victories Russia had been slow to modernise compared with the industrialised, resourceful Germany. Couldn’t cope with mechanised war. Early defeats – Tannenberg and Masurian Lakes. Economic problems – cost of the war – borrowed money – increased national debt.
However.. All of the allies suffered economic difficulties. It was the impact of this on the unique Russian social/political system that proved explosive.
The process of industrialisation in Russia gained pace in an attempt to keep up with the demands of war. Populations in towns and cities ballooned. Strain on working/living conditions. Food shortages. October 1916 – wave of strikes.
Tsarina Alexandra German background Eccentric A lack of intellect: ‘a will of iron, linked to not brain and no knowledge’ (Paul Benckendorff) Obsessed with Russian Orthodoxy Tendency towards mysticism and spiritualism
Tsarina and Rasputin Belonged to a Sect. Faith healer. Strong friendship meant he was able to influence her choice of ministers and appointments. Dismissed ministers she saw as a threat e.g. Minister of War Alexei Polivanov.
Were they really to blame? In reality the Tsar made all of the crucial decisions but he was influenced by his wife and Rasputin. At the time, Rasputin’s influence was taken seriously. A leading noble, Felix Yusopov murdered Rasputin in 1916.
By 1917 the Tsar was feeling optimistic: ‘I know the situation is very alarming…(but)…..soon, in the spring will come the offensive and I believe that God will give us victory, and then moods will change.’