Assess the Reasons for the Outbreak of Revolution in February 1917

Topics: Russian Empire, Russia, World War I Pages: 6 (2062 words) Published: December 4, 2012
There are many reasons that could have been considered to be the cause if for the outbreak of revolution in February 1917. The many effects of the war proved to lead towards the revolution because it demonstrated how hopeless the Tsar and his government were in dealing with all the problems Russia faced. Also the ministers within the government also had a part to play in the events leading up to the revolution as many of them advised the Tsar to resign.

The war is an event that is widely considered to be a cause of the outbreak of the February 1917 revolution, despite in 1914 it appearing as though the Tsars’ power and authority had increased. This is because after Russia losing the First World War, many problems had been worsened such as Russia’s economy. The war lasted 3 years and proved to be a great strain on the Russian economy. Russia had never been economically advanced and the efforts of the ‘Great Spurt’ in the 1890s and State Capitalism had not been able to support Russia throughout the war. What is more is that other efforts to stabilize Russia’s economy had been destroyed as a result of the war, as the policies Witte introduced such as increasing taxes at home and negotiating large loans from abroad had not been able to support the cost of the war although it did help slightly. Furthermore, the rouble being placed on the gold standard had been abandoned because it allowed Russia’s government to print off more money. However, this was only good for the short term as it did eventually lead to inflation in Russia, but since they were desperate the government found no other way but to put more notes into circulation. Printing more money off allowed the government to continue to pay the workers’ wages but considering the long term effects the rouble had the potential of becoming worthless and unfortunately for Russia at that critical stage it became a reality and consequently Russia was left in severe inflation.

Inflation meant that the price of foods had increased dramatically and trading was unbeneficial for the people trading as they could not make a profit therefore the majority of the peasants began to hoard their food supplies in fear. What made it worse was that Russia suffered serious food shortages especially during the war. This could have been a reason to the outbreak of the revolution in 1917. However, in spite of all this it could be argued that this was not a cause of the revolution for the reason that between 1912 and 1914, Russia’s grain yield was at the highest it’s ever been during the first two years of the war. This suggested that it was not until 1916 that the food problems began to occur. Likewise, it is a known fact that the military had priority not only on the limited food supplies but also on the transport system. This suggested that the outbreak of the revolution may have been because of this, since the peasants whom consumed over 80% of Russia’s population were on the verge of starvation because the food supplies could not be transported to the civilian areas easily as the military took over the transport system. The transport system proved to be inadequate in wartime and may have been another reason to why the revolution occurred in 1917 because the fact that the Russian Railway system practically collapsed by 1916, added to the other disasters Russia was experiencing at that time. Moreover, it was unrealistic to expect the unfinished railway to be able to withstand the pressure of transporting food, war ammunitions and soldiers efficiently. The army was one of the reasons why Russia lost the war and could well have been a reason to why there was a revolution in 1917. In comparison to Germany and France, Russia had only put less than half their troops into the war. Their total number still seemed to be a mighty force but they were at a disadvantage because of the lack of equipment, perhaps as a result of the failed transport system.

During the first two years of the First...
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