How far has the importance of Trotsky in creating political change in Russia in 1917 been exaggerated?
We know that Leon Trotsky was crucial in creating political change in Russia in 1917. We know that in the 1917 Revolution, his great orating skills helped further the Bolshevik cause. This is shown in Source 76 with use of “oratorical talent, his organising ability, first with the army and then with the railways...” and this led to political change as his involvement sped up the Bolshevik take-over of Russia. Evaluating the source, the fact that it is written by a Bolshevik could make it bias, as the follower will want to exaggerate Trotsky’s role as a great leader. Furthermore, Victor Serge wrote this in 1945, much after 1917, lowering the reliability of the Source. However, there were other faithful Russians that claimed that Trotsky’s influence was crucial to creating political change. An example of this is in Source 78, with the use of “He was the idol of mass meetings in Petrograd...Trotsky was one of the best orators of the Revolution. He spoke everywhere with amazing brilliance and had the ability to popularise even difficult ideas with great skill”, showing Trotsky’s influence over the whole country, leading to political change. Evaluation of the source shows that it was written in 1918, just a year after 1917, the year in question, giving it a high reliability compared to Source 76. A.P. Spunde even uses the words “Trotsky displayed his best qualities in 1917”, something that many sources suggest. The source will show some bias, as it is yet another Bolshevik writer, but it can be cross-referenced with Source 79. The speech took place on the 22th October 1917 in Petrograd, and Trotsky’s own words were “The Soviet Government will give everything the country has to the poor and to the soldiers at the front...We will defend the cause of the workers and peasants to the last drop of blood”. This use of emotive language clearly shows us Trotsky’s oratorical skills, and it probably did sway the majority of Russia. It took place in 1917, the year in question, and clearly defined Trotsky’s immense role in creating political change. It is also known that even Trotsky’s presence lightened the hearts of many Bolshevik soldiers, as shown by Source 89’s use of “Trotsky’s arrival meant that the city would not be abandoned... We were lifted by the energy he carried wherever a critical situation arose”. Evaluating the source, it was written after 1917, during the Civil War, so the reliability of Trotsky’s ability is reduced. Linking back to the question, Trotsky’s role has not been exaggerated, and he was very important in creating political change, especially in 1917. This is because there are many Sources to back up all that Trotsky did to further the Revolution and extend the Bolshevik reach, including Source 79, his own speech to the Petrograd Soviet. That single sentence showed his determination to help bring the Bolsheviks into power, and to help the peasants and workers of Russia out of poverty. This information and evidence makes Trotsky one of the most influential and important figures in 1917, possibly the most important figure.
On the other hand, we also know that Trotsky’s role has been exaggerated, as many sources that speak of his greatness are Bolshevik supporters, and as such it is impossible to rule out bias. Sources 76, 78 and 79 are all from Bolshevik writers, with Source 79 being Trotsky himself. Although Source 79 has use of “We will defend the cause of the workers and peasants to the last drop of blood”, there are no sources from the workers or peasants in 1917, or any year in the first half of the 20th century. If none of the sources are from the target group that the Bolsheviks are aiming to liberate, it is hard to see if Trotsky was really that crucial to the Bolshevik cause, or if his followers had exaggerated his role in 1917. Another fact we know is that Leon Trotsky was not the most prominent...
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