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The Russian Revolution

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1 The Russian Revolution
An Historical Overview Offered by the Rosemead High School English Department as an Introduction to George Orwell’s Animal Farm

2 Introduction The Russian Revolution was the most important revolution of the 20th century, and was one of the most important revolutions in the history of the world.  I would place it as the third most important revolution after the American and French Revolutions. Like the American Revolution, and most other revolutions, the Russian Revolution was a revolution against economic oppression. In addition to this, the Russian Revolution started out as a revolution for democracy.

3 Czar Nicholas II ( ) Son of Alexander III. The last Russian czar (also spelled “tsar”), who ruled from 1894 until 1917. Nicholas II assumed the throne with reluctance and self-doubt upon his father’s sudden death. Deemed overly soft by his hard and demanding father, Nicholas received little grooming for his imperial role. Nicholas felt so unprepared for the duties of the crown that he tearfully asked his cousin, "What is going to happen to me and all of Russia?" He was a clumsy and ineffective leader whose avoidance of direct involvement in government caused resentment among the Russian people and resulted in violence in 1905.

4 Early Causes At the beginning of the 20th century the Russian industrial employee worked on average an 11 hour day Factories conditions were extremely harsh and little concern was shown for the workers' health and safety. In 1903, a priest, Father Gapon, formed a trade union, the Assembly of Russian Workers. 1904 was a particularly bad year for Russian workers. Prices of essential goods rose so quickly that real wages declined by 20 per cent. Gapon called for industrial action. Over the next few days over 110,000 workers in St. Petersburg went out on strike.

5 Bloody Sunday In an attempt to settle the dispute, Father Gapon decided to make a personal appeal to Nicholas II. He drew up a petition outlining the workers' sufferings and demands. This included calling for a reduction in the working day to eight hours, an increase in wages, an improvement in working conditions and an end to the Russo-Japanese War. When the procession of workers reached the Winter Palace it was attacked by the police and the Cossacks. Over 1000 workers were killed or wounded. The incident, known as Bloody Sunday, started a series of events that became known as the 1905 Revolution.

6 1905 Revolution Strikes took place all over the country and the universities closed down when the whole student body complained about the lack of civil liberties by staging a walkout. In June, 1905, sailors on the Potemkin battleship, protested against the serving of rotten meat. The captain ordered that the ringleaders to be shot. The firing-squad refused to carry out the order and joined with the rest of the crew in throwing the officers overboard. Industrial workers all over Russia went on strike and in October, 1905, the railwaymen went on strike which paralyzed the whole Russian railway network. Later that month, Leon Trotsky and other Mensheviks established the St. Petersburg Soviet. Over the next few weeks over 50 of these soviets were formed all over Russia.

7 Soviet A soviet originally was a workers' local council
The councils were later adopted by the Bolsheviks as the basic organizing unit of society. Originally the soviets were used to practice direct democracy. The slogan "All power to the soviets" or "All power to the workers' councils” was popular with the people.

8 October Manifesto Czar Nicholas II was forced to compromise by the events of the 1905 Revolution. He eventually agreed and published the October Manifesto. This granted freedom of conscience, speech, meeting and association. He also promised that in future people would not be imprisoned without trial. Finally he announced that no law would become operative without the approval of a new organization called the Duma.

9 Duma The Russian legislature from 1905-1917.
The term comes from the Russian word думать, "to think". The Duma was created under the pressure of the Russian Revolution of 1905. In the subsequent October Manifesto Tsar pledged to introduce basic civil liberties, provide for broad participation in the State Duma, and give the Duma law-making and oversight powers

10 First Duma The first meeting of the Duma took place in May 1906.
There were several changes in the Duma since the publication of the October Manifesto. Nicholas II had also created a State Council, an upper chamber, of which he would nominate half its members. He also retained for himself the right to declare war, to control the Orthodox Church and to dissolve the Duma. He also had the power to appoint and dismiss ministers. At their first meeting, members of the Duma put forward a series of demands including the release of political prisoners, trade union rights and land reform. Nicholas II rejected all these proposals and dissolved the Duma.

11 Second Duma Elections for the Second Duma took place in 1907.
The Czar used his powers to exclude large numbers from voting. This reduced the influence of those for Nicholas but when the Second Duma convened in February, 1907, it still included a large number of reformers. After three months of heated debate, Nicholas II closed down the Duma on the 16th June, 1907.

12 Third Duma The Czar now made changes to the electoral law in November 1907. The new electoral law also gave better representation to the nobility and gave greater power to the large landowners to the detriment of the peasants. The groups against the Czar (including the Bolsheviks) were now outnumbered by those for the Czar. Unlike the previous Dumas, this one ran its full-term of five years.

13 Fourth Duma The Fourth Duma continued the policy of the Third Duma.
Soon after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 the Duma voted to support Nicholas II and his government. When the Bolshevik deputies voted against the government on this issue, they were arrested, had their property confiscated and sent to Siberia. By 1916 members of the Duma became increasingly critical of the way Nicholas II was managing the war.

14 Karl Marx ( ) German philosopher, political economist, and revolutionary. Marx is most famous for his analysis of history, summed up in the opening line of the introduction to the Communist Manifesto: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." Marx believed that the downfall of capitalism was inevitable, and that it would be replaced by communism. Marxism-Leninism refers to the version of Marxism developed by Vladimir Lenin, a follower of Marx’s philosophies.

15 Communism A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people. The Marxist-Leninist version of Communism calls for the overthrow of capitalism by the revolution of the proletariat (the working class, or those with no wealth). “Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, unite!” – Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto

16 Vladimir Lenin ( ) The founder of the Bolshevik Party, organizer of the October Revolution, and the first leader of the Soviet Union. Lenin spent most of the early twentieth century living in exile in Europe (primarily Britain and Switzerland). He was a devout follower of Marxism and believed that once a Communist revolution took place in Russia, Communism would spread rapidly around the world. In 1902 Lenin published a pamphlet, What Is To Be Done? where he argued for a party of professional revolutionaries dedicated to the overthrow of Czarism. In 1907 Lenin abandoned hope for an imminent armed uprising and called on Bolsheviks in Russia to participate in the elections for the Third Duma.

17 Leon Trotsky ( ) A Bolshevik leader and one of the most prominent figures of the October Revolution. Trotsky, who was in exile abroad during the February Revolution, returned to Russia in May 1917, closely aligned himself with Lenin, and joined the Bolshevik Party during the summer. Trotsky headed the Revolutionary Military Committee, which provided the military muscle for the October Revolution. After the revolution, he was appointed commissar of foreign affairs and led Russia’s negotiations with Germany and Austria for the peace treaty that made possible Russia’s exit from World War I.

18 Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP)
A party that formed in 1898 and was among Russia’s earliest revolutionary movements. In 1903, the RSDLP split into two factions, the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks.

19 Bolsheviks A radical political party, led by Vladimir Lenin, that split from the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party in 1903. The Bolshevik Party favored a closed party consisting of and run by professional revolutionaries and supported the idea of a dictatorship that would accelerate the transition to socialism. It placed an emphasis on the working class, from which it drew much of its support.

20 Mensheviks A political group that, like the Bolsheviks, split from the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. The Mensheviks, less radical than the Bolsheviks, supported the idea of a socialistic party that was open to all who wished to join and that would be ruled and organized in a democratic manner.

21 Rasputin Nicknamed “The Mad Monk”, he was a Russian peasant and self-proclaimed mystic who gained significant influence over Czar Nicholas II’s wife, Alexandra, in the years immediately prior to the revolutions of 1917. The Czar’s son, Alexander, was afflicted with hemophilia: every time he began to bleed, it would not stop. Rasputin proved he had a healing power and was able to help the boy. Having proven to Alexandra his holy powers, Rasputin did not remain just the healer for Alexander; Rasputin soon became the confidante and personal advisor of Alexandra. To the aristocrats, having a peasant advising the czarina, who in turn held a great deal of influence over the czar, was unacceptable The Russian people began to believe that the czar himself was under Rasputin’s influence. Because his presence was damaging Nicholas II’s credibility, Rasputin was killed in late 1916. Rasputin proved difficult to kill: he was poisoned, shot three times, beaten with a dumbbell, and finally tied up and thrown in an icy river where he drowned.

22 The Czar Weakens In September 1915, Nicholas II assumed supreme command of the Russian Army fighting in the very unpopular World War I. This linked him to the country's military failures and during 1917 there was a strong decline support for his government. The country's incompetent and corrupt system could not supply the necessary equipment to enable the Russian Army to fight a modern war.

23 February Revolution By 1917 over 1.3 million men had been killed in battle, 4.2 million wounded, and 2.4 million had been captured by the enemy. The war also had a disastrous impact on the Russian economy. Food was in short supply and this led to rising prices. By January 1917 the price of commodities in Petrograd had increased six-fold. In an attempt to increase their wages, industrial workers went on strike and in Petrograd people took to the street demanding food. On 11th February, 1917, a large crowd marched through the streets of Petrograd breaking shop windows and shouting anti-war slogans.

24 Nicholas Abdicates On February 26th Nicholas II ordered the Duma to close down. Members refused and they continued to meet and discuss what they should do. The Duma sent a telegram to the Czar suggesting he appoint a new government led by someone who had the confidence of the people. When the Tsar did not reply, the Duma nominated a Provisional Government. The Russian Army now feared a violent revolution and on February 28th suggested that Nicholas II should abdicate (give up power). On the 1st March, 1917, the Czar abdicated leaving the Provisional Government in control of the country.

25 Lenin Returns Lenin was now desperate to return to Russia to help shape the future of the country. When Lenin and 27 other Bolsheviks returned to Russia on April 3rd, 1917, he attacked other Bolsheviks for supporting the Provisional Government. In his speech, Lenin urged the peasants to take the land from the rich landlords and the industrial workers to seize the factories.

26 October Revolution Leon Trotsky now urged the overthrow of the Provisional Government. Lenin agreed and on the evening of 24th October, 1917, orders were given for the Bolsheviks began to occupy the railway stations, the telephone exchange and the State Bank. On October 26th, 1917, power was handed over to the Soviet Council of People's Commissars. Lenin was elected chairman and other appointments included Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin

27 Lenin Shot On 30th August, 1918, Lenin spoke at a meeting in Moscow. As he left the building someone tried to ask him some questions about the way he was running the country. Lenin turned to answer and at that moment two bullets entered his body and it was considered too dangerous to remove them. Severe headaches limited his sleep and understandably he began to suffer from fatigue. Lenin decided he needed someone to help him control the Communist Party. At the Party Conference in April, 1922, Lenin's choice for the post was Joseph Stalin, who in the past had always loyally supported his policies.

28 Joseph Stalin ( ) A Bolshevik leader who became prominent only after Lenin’s return to Petrograd in April Although Stalin was very much a secondary figure during the October Revolution, he did gain Lenin’s attention as a useful ally. After the revolution, Stalin became increasingly powerful and eventually succeeded Lenin as leader of the Soviet Union upon Lenin’s death in 1924.

29 Stalin Rises to Power Soon after Stalin's appointment as General Secretary, Lenin went into hospital to have a bullet removed from his body. It was hoped that this operation would restore his health. This was not to be; soon afterwards, a blood vessel broke in Lenin's brain. This left him paralyzed all down his right side and for a time he was unable to speak. Joseph Stalin had suddenly become extremely important. While Lenin was immobilized, Stalin made full use of his powers as General Secretary. He had been granted permission to expel "unsatisfactory" party members. This enabled Stalin to remove thousands of supporters of Leon Trotsky, his main rival for the leadership of the party.

30 Lenin’s Grip Weakens Lenin began to fear that Stalin was taking over the leadership of the Communist party. Lenin wrote to Leon Trotsky asking for his support and suggesting that in future they should work together against Stalin. Stalin, whose wife worked in Lenin's private office, soon discovered the contents of the letter sent to Leon Trotsky. Stalin was furious as he realized that if Lenin and Trotsky worked together against him, his political career would be at an end.

31 Lenin Dies Lenin became increasing concerned about Stalin's character and wrote a testament in which he suggested that he be removed. However, Lenin died before any action was taken. Stalin now emerged as the leader of the Soviet Union. Leon Trotsky accused Stalin of being a dictator and called for the introduction of more democracy into the party. In 1925 Stalin was able to arrange for Leon Trotsky to be removed from the government and eventually was banished to the remote area of Kazakhstan.

32 Assassination of Trotsky
Some of Trotsky's supporters pleaded with him to organize a military coup. Trotsky rejected the idea and instead resigned his post. Trotsky and Stalin clashed over the future strategy of the country. In 1927 Stalin was able to get Trotsky expelled from the Communist Party. In 1929 he was ordered to leave the Soviet Union. As Trotsky was still advocating world revolution, most countries refused to take him in. Eventually he lived in Turkey, France, Norway, and Mexico On 20th August, 1940 Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico City by Ramon Mercader, a Stalinist agent, who drove the pick of an ice axe into Trotsky's skull.

33 First Five Year Plan Stalin decided that he would use his control over the country to modernize the economy. The first Five Year Plan that was introduced in 1928, concentrated on the development of iron and steel, machine-tools, electric power and transport. Stalin set the workers high targets. He demanded a 111% increase in coal production, 200% increase in iron production and 335% increase in electric power. He justified these demands by claiming that if rapid industrialization did not take place, the Soviet Union would not be able to defend itself against an invasion from capitalist countries in the west. Every factory had large display boards erected that showed the output of workers. Those that failed to reach the required targets were publicity criticized and humiliated. Some workers could not cope with this pressure and absenteeism increased. This led to even more repressive measures being introduced. Records were kept of workers' lateness, absenteeism and bad workmanship. If the worker's record was poor, he was accused of trying to sabotage the Five Year Plan and if found guilty could be shot or sent to work in forced labor camps.

34 The Great Purges In 1932 Stalin became aware that opposition to his policies were growing. When some party members publicly criticized him, Stalin demanded that they be arrested and executed. In 1936, the Communist Secret Police arranged the arrest of all the leading political figures in the Soviet Union who were critical of Stalin. They broke prisoners down by intense interrogation. This included the threat to arrest and execute members of the prisoner's family if they did not sign confessions agreeing that they had been attempting to overthrow the government. In 1937 leading members of the Communist Party were put on trial, accused of working to overthrow the Soviet government with the objective of restoring capitalism. In 1938, leading members of the party were accused of being involved in a plot against Joseph Stalin and with spying for foreign powers. They were all found guilty and were either executed or died in labor camps.

35 The Great Purges Stalin now decided to purge the Red Army. Stalin claimed that he had evidence that the army was planning a military coup at this time. In June, 1937, top Red Army commanders were charged with conspiracy with Germany. All eight were convicted and executed. All told, 30,000 members of the armed forces were executed. This included fifty per cent of all army officers. The last stage of the terror was the purging of the Communist Secret Police. Stalin wanted to make sure that those who knew too much about the purges would also be killed. Stalin announced to the country that "fascist elements" had taken over the security forces which had resulted in innocent people being executed. Ultimately, Communist Russia became no different than Czarist Russia.

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