Anyone who has ever read into Russian history will know it’s truly fascinating – and complex! From ancient history to the rise of the USSR, it’s certainly changed and evolved over the years.
We’re going to be looking into the Russian Revolution, a period of unrest which shook not only the country, but the world for decades to follow. Here are some interesting facts about the Russian Revolution worth reading!
The Russian Revolution started in 1917. However, it was actually two revolutionary events in one, generally brought together to describe one period.
Specifically, the Russian Revolution took place to break the country away from Tsar or monarchy rule. It resulted in a communist-based political system for many years.
What kickstarted the period was known as the February Revolution. This was the first catalyst in a chain of events which would see the Tsar regime of centuries past final crumble.
Protests in Petrograd during the February Revolution.
Specifically, this revolution witnessed the abdication of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia.
It’s noted that the Tsar stepped down from his rule as a result of growing unrest. Rioting was commonplace, and as such, the leader felt he could no longer command his fleet.
This unrest and negativity regarding the Tsar built up over time, generally from 1905 onwards. It was in 1905 when demonstrators in St Petersburg were attacked by the Tsar’s guard.
This period is known as Bloody Sunday in Russia. The Tsar was largely blamed for the fallout.
The Tsar attempted to win back the appeal of the people. He created a regime known as Duma to help establish a new order. It was not successful.
The second wave of revolution in Russia came shortly after the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. The government that took the place of the Tsar’s forces struggled to maintain order.
A speech from Tsar Nicholas II at the Winter Palace preceding the state Duma.
This is when the Bolsheviks proposed communist rule. The leader of the Bolsheviks was Vladimir Lenin – who is still seen as the father of communism.
Dates regarding the Revolution tend to confuse a lot of people. This is because of the two waves. The first wave took place in March 1917, when the Tsar stepped down, and the second took place that October, when Lenin’s Bolsheviks overthrew the intermediate government.
It was actually a result of an attack planned by the interim government which led to the downfall in public opinion. This was referred to as the July Offensive, and it reportedly led to more problems for a country already suffering with poverty and unrest.
Not everyone was happy with the rise of the Bolsheviks. In fact, there was a civil war which emerged in 1917, too. This would roll on until 1924.
This was known as a battle between red and white armies. The red army supported Lenin, and the white army opposed his rule.
It’s thought that around five million people lost their lives in this conflict.
A propaganda poster portraying Lenin and Bolsheviks at the foot of a Marx statue sacrificing Russia.
Lenin genuinely believed that communism was the answer to demands for genuine equality in Russia. Communism revolves around the principle that wealth is divided equally.
However, as the struggles through the Russian Revolution show, communism can often fail in practice. In this case, many people died, and moreover, the political movement can lead to rise of dictatorships.
It’s thought that Lenin had the Romanov royal family captured and executed amid the civil war.
Lenin would die before the end of the civil war, which led to a struggle for power at the top of government. Josef Stalin would eventually claim the top job.
Stalin, however, was not without his opponents. His biggest rival was Leon Trotsky, a fiercely intelligent political motivator. However, Stalin would eventually have Trotsky killed.
Not only that, but Stalin also made a point of taking control of the way history would be written. It’s emerged that he strove to erase Trotsky completely from regional history, adamant to wash his hands of him.
Stalin (left), Lenin (centre) and Mikhail Kalinin (right) pictured together 1919.
Stalin’s regime would be swift and brutal. He took over Lenin’s government in the mid-1920s and would make a point of stripping out and re-establishing bureaucracy.
Stalin’s part in the Revolution is thought to have led to the starvation of countless Russians during the 1920s.
By the time that Stalin took the helm, the world was already pivoting towards a tense build-up towards World War II. Ultimately, Stalin would help Russia overthrow the Nazis, but at the cost of millions of his own lives.
Not only that, but many of the original Bolshevik leaders, who helped to support Lenin and Trotsky, would be executed under order of the new leader.
Historically, this period in Russian history doesn’t carry a very flattering name. It’s referred to as ‘The Terror’.
It’s thanks to the Bolsheviks that Russia’s capital became Moscow. This is largely thanks to centralisation.
St Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow.
The Bolshevik movement was not widely welcomed across the globe when it emerged. In fact, the white army in the civil war would receive backing from the US, the UK, Japan, and France.
However, it’s documented that King George V (England) had the power to grant Tsar Nicholas II asylum at the height of Revolution. However, he and parliament forces refused.
This is all the more stinging when you realise that George and Nicholas were loosely related as cousins!
Despite the fact that the Bolsheviks wished to establish communist rule, they did not want to share power! This meant that they would centralise their government, and thus establish a dictatorship.
‘Soviet’ is a word widely associated with the Revolution. It’s actually said to roughly mean ‘council’.
Russia would eventually become a republic after decades of Cold War with non-communist countries. The communist rule in the country would end in 1991.
Do you know any interesting facts about the Russian Revolution? Share them in the comments below!