B6: Russia in Revolution, 1914-1924
What impact did the First World War have on Russia?
The war was greeted with more celebrations than in any other country in Europe. The Russians were so keen to get at the Germans that they actually had armies advancing into Germany after only two weeks.
This took the Germans by surprise. The Germans had to move reinforcements from France to help their armies in the east.
But many Russian units were poorly prepared. They did not have enough rifles or ammunition and their equipment was out of date. Many officers had maps that were completely useless.
The two Russian generals, Samsonov and Rennenkampf did not work together. They actually competed with each other to be the first to defeat the Germans.
All radio contact was un-coded, as a result, the Germans were able to discover exactly where the Russian were and what they planned to do.
The Russian armies had suffered two massive defeats. At Tannenberg, 130,000 Russian soldiers were killed or seriously wounded and 100,000 were captured. At the Masurian Lakes there was a similar story.
Why did the Russian armies do so badly?
Industry could not supply enough weapons and the railway network could not get supplies moved.
Many new recruits had little training and were told to pick up rifles from men who had been killed as they advanced.
Britain and France sent supplies to the port of Archangel in northern Russia, but there was only a single track railway line from there to St Petersburg. Many of the supplies never got through.
The wounded were left lying in fields or in railway stations because there was nobody to look after them and no medical supplies to treat their wounds.
St Petersburg was renamed Petrograd in 1914 and here more and more people had crowded in to find work in the munitions factories.
By early 1917 food prices had risen 300 percent since the beginning of the war.
The most important change took place in August 1915, when Nicholas II dismissed his senior commanders and took over himself.
He was now responsible for all the failures in the Russian war effort. Increasingly people began to blame him in person when things went wrong.
Rumours about Rasputin and the Tsarina Alexandra only served to make the situation worse and the Imperial family more unpopular. Why was there a February Revolution?
The main centre of unrest in Russia was Petrograd. It was here that inflation was at its worst.
By January 1917 people were forced to queue for hours to get bread. There were demonstrations against food shortages.
On 22 February, the temperature improved by 20 degrees Celsius and crowds of people came out onto the streets. 23 February was International Women’s Day. There were parades and demonstrations all over Petrograd.
By 25 February half the industrial workers, about 250,000 men, were on strike.
From 24 February there were reports that soldiers and protesters were beginning to mix together.
Many new recruits saw little reason to fight and be killed. Nicholas needed to act quickly to sort the situation out, but he was away commanding the army and could not see what was happening in Petrograd for himself.
The Tsar was kept informed of events in Petrograd by two people, his wife Alexandra and Mikhail Rodzianko, the Chairman of the Duma. The Tsarina told him that all was well. Rodzianko said that there was a serious crisis. The Tsar believed his wife
By 27 and 28 February there were many demonstrations by workers and the Garrison of Petrograd supported the strikers.
On 1 March the Tsar attempted to return to Petrograd. But it was too late. Nicholas was forced to abdicate on 2 March.
Why were the Bolsheviks able to seize power in October 1917?
After the abdication of Nicholas a Provisional Government was set up. The Provisional Government was a temporary government created by members of the Duma until a general election could be held.
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