3 November 2010
Russia's Withdwral from World War I
There are always two sides to every story. When a country in an alliance backs out of a war, there is bound to be controversy. Some say it is unacceptable, and cowardly to leave your allies on their own. Key countries can make the difference between a victory and a defeat in war. There are very strong ties connecting the ‘players.’ In World War I, Russia was a key player. When people accuse it of cowardice, and betrayal, most do not realize the fact that in each country, there are unique issues that can impact its ability to contribute positively to the fight. Due to certain realities surrounding Russia’s royal family, the October revolution, and Germany’s defeat, Russia had no choice but to surrender.
The royal family, the Romanovs, specifically the Czar, controlled the Russian army. Once the Czar abdicated, the people no longer felt like they had to answer to anyone. There were many flaws in Russian government, and structure at the time of World War 1. The Czar, Nicholas II, was extremely unpopular with the citizens. (See appendix data for picture of Czar Nicholas II. Figure 1). Even before the war, there was a large gap between the rich and the poor. The people felt disconnected, and did not believe that Nicholas II genuinely cared about them. The fact that the Czar, who had no knowledge of war tactics, took over the Russian army only made matters worse. The army was badly led and poorly equipped. All problems were blamed on Nicholas II. 15 million men were forced from their jobs at farms and train stations, resulting in food shortages, and higher process (Smele). The winter of 1916-1917 was severe to the point that there was a famine in some cities. On March 8th, there were many riots regarding the food shortages, and war in general. Four days later, March 12th, most of the army itself abandoned the Czar by refusing to tame the riots (Clare). That same night, Rodzianko, President of the Duma, the Russian parliament, telegraphed the Tsar, “The situation is getting worse. Something has to be done immediately. Tomorrow is too late. The last hour has struck. The future of the country and the royal family is being decided” (Clare). The next day, March 13th, the Duma formally asked Czar Nicholas II to abdicate. While a number of parts of the military continued to fight on the war front, many quit fighting altogether, and some even fought each other. Germany took advantage of the opportunity to get rid of the enemy on the eastern front. They arranged for Vladimir Lenin, a revolutionary who had been exiled from Russia for many years, to return to Petrograd. The czarist government had lost control of the country.
While trying to withstand Germany in the World War, the Russians also had to worry about conflicts with their own people. (See appendix data for a picture of riots. Figure 2). A civil war was becoming more and more likely. On September 14th, the Duma was officially broken up by the newly created Directorate, a brief transitional government, and the country was declared ‘the Russian Republic.’ The government lasted approximately eight months, until power in Russia was transferred to the Bolsheviks in October 1917. The provisional government thought Russia should remain in the war until Germany was defeated (Trueman). The leader of the Bolsheviks however, Vladimir Lenin, did not believe in war. The communist party believed that they should escape the war as soon as possible, no matter the territory loss and reparations. November 6th, 1917, the Bolsheviks took complete control of Russia, with the help of the military. The next day, Vladimir Lenin issued his first decree, a declaration of peace. He ordered the whole army to cease all warfare. During a speech, Vladimir stated that even though the Russian people have the want to change their fate, they cannot do it themselves, “We cannot be guided by the mood of the...
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