World War I: Circumstances for Revolution in Russia

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Sir George Buchanan summarized the overriding factor in the lead up to the February Revolution of 1917 when he said about the Tsar, “although his loyalty to his Allies remained unshaken to the last, it was his failure to harness the loyalty of his own people which eventually cost him his throne”. The crux of the revolution was the people’s belief that they were abandoned by the Tsar during World War I. Although the Tsar was well supported early on in the campaign his tentative star steeply declined after he made the bold, but ultimately detrimental decision to leave Petrograd and join the army at the front line. The Tsar felt he was taking the noblest path but this was seen as nothing more than a symbolic abandonment of the Russian people during their time of need. In abandoning the people the Tsar left his inexperienced wife - Tsarina Alexandria - in charge of Russia. Alexandria was to be heavily influenced by the enigmatic Rasputin, who from a peasant background, would influence all members of the royal family and ultimately shape Russia and its future. The people resented the obvious influence that Rasputin exercised on the Tsarina and rumours of an affair between the two were rampant. Another aspect of the war’s role in bringing about revolution is the high casualties of the army due to poor leadership, antiquated methods of warfare, lack of weaponry and ammunition and an inability to transport food. All of these issues combined to make for high rates of casualty and even higher rates of surrender indicating poor morale and an unwillingness to sacrifice oneself for a nation that did not particularly value the individual. Ultimately the military failings led to a public losing faith in both the war and the leader behind the war, Nicholas. In addition to this the exorbitant cost of the war, which between 1914 and 1917 was four times that of the total expenditure of the government in the last peacetime year, 1913. The government managed to raise such huge...
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