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The Russian Home Front of WWI
Transcript of The Russian Home Front of WWI
How were people at home involved in the war?
How did the role of women change during the conflict?
The Changes and Effects
Total War for Russia
• WWI was a total war for Russia
• Despite entering the war with the largest army (1.4 million men), Russia was not prepared to fight in the modern battlefield of WWI
• Russia lacked the factories and the financial means to create a mass amount of weapons (after being exhausted from their previous wars and conflicts)
• So during the war, much labour and financial support was put into the war effort
• Often factories would be built before the homes for the workers, meaning factory workers would sleep in the cold and poor conditions of the factories. Despite this, factory workers were paid very little (this would create inflation as the need for more weapons increased).
Problems on the Battlefield to Issues at Home
• Russia also had a weak monarchy – Nicholas II’s inability to halt the advancement of opposing troops, brought the war front closer to the home front causing lives and territories to be lost, factories needing to move, and the loss of many exporting routes (ex. Baltic Sea, Black Sea).
• This led to catastrophic results by mid-1915, as food and fuel became scarce and inflation began to grow.
• Political chaos on the home front (because of the failures to control the situation by Rasputin and Queen Alexandra) also became the cause for many strikes, as families no longer had bread to eat. Certain organizations, made with purpose to improve the supply issue, were also forbidden. In 1915, the Duma was also restricted.
The Food Shortage and Other Arising Problems
• Farmers, a majority of the population of WWI, became greatly involved in the issues of the war. Not only were a majority of them conscripted to the army, but sales in crops and produce fell greatly in 1915 because of rationing and price fixing (both were efforts to solve the food shortage problem).
• In October 1916, rail workers in Petrograd (St Petersburg) went on strike in protest about their working conditions. Soldiers were sent from the front to coerce the strikers back to work. They joined the rail men.
Sisters of Mercy
• Sisters of Mercy – Pre-Revolutionary Russian Red Cross made up of civilian nurses helped the war effort through treating enormous numbers of wounded and ill soldiers during the hostilities.
• They were also known for caring for Russia’s civilian population (from the spread epidemic diseases, starvation and illness, and caring for the orphaned) during the war when poverty, starvation, and illness was on a rise.
The Female Fighters
1st Russian Women’s Battalion of Death, being reviewed by the commander of the Petrograd Military District, General Petr Polovstev, with battalion commander Maria Bochkareva.
The Female Fighters
• Russia was the only nation at the time to have a full female military combat troops: the Women’s Battalion of Death in the spring of 1917.
• Before the creation of the Women’s Battalion by the Provisional Government, women would disguise themselves as men and “sneak” onto the battlefield.
• Then a Serbian peasant and combat veteran of the war, Maria Bochkarëva secured permission from Minister of War Alexander Kerensky for the formation of the 1st Russian Women’s Battalion of Death under her command.
• However, due to the failure in performance on the front lines and propaganda in the home front, the battalion was shut down.
What changed about the life on the home front?
• Quality of life for the average family decreased – there was less food and poor shelter due to constant inflation and loss of land during the war.
• The power and support of the monarchy of the Russian Empire was depleting while rights were being restricted, thus leading to many strikes and uprisings.
• More women took up predominantly male areas of work (such as in factories).
What were the effects of the war?
• Inflation and poverty in Russia (By late 1916, inflation was almost 400%)
• After 2 years of conscription, there was a labour shortage in Russia
• The Brest-Litovsk Treaty
What were the social and cultural effects of the war?
• Women working in the government and military
• The fall of the Russian Monarchy
• The Russian Revolution
By Kayleen Cadalin
Sisters of Mercy tending to wounded soldiers.
Like in many other countries, women also took the places of men in factories, stores, and etc. Despite low wages, terrible working conditions, and little benefits, it was a great improvement for women in the workforce.
What is Total War?
• “total war – military conflict in which the contenders are willing to make any sacrifice in lives and other resources to obtain a complete victory” (Encyclopedia of Britannica).
• When a country is in a state of total war, it will utilize and devote every resource (financial and military) and civilian/military personnel to achieving a successful and victorious outcome in the war.
• WWI and WWII are considered total wars for many nations, such as Russia.
1916 Cartoons about Rasputin and his control over the Royal Family
The Imperial Russian Family at Home
Historiography On Rasputin
"By 1916, Rasputin had become an important figure of the corruption of the Romanov court and it's treacherous, unpatriotic behavior.”
"The Romanov court was full of Germans. The Empress herself was a German by origin.
"Therefore the notion while Russia was shedding it's blood on the Front, the court which was living very well – thank you very much – was in fact working in league with the Germans. So that was one way in which Rasputin became a symbol of corruption."
"Rasputin's a good Russian… he drinks far too much from time to time.
"He's a lad of the village. Fancies himself with those, no doubt, emotionally and sexually frustrated ladies of the court."
"Rasputin did manage to become something of a party catch for those ladies.
"Now Rasputin established a certain kind of ascendancy within the court, no doubt with these various frustrated ladies. And he occupies more prominence, I think, in the literature of the subject, precisely because people are willing to believe the worst of that court."
Historiography - the opinions about issues at the Russian Home Front
Historiography on the Tsar and Tsarina
"Tsar Nicholas the II was probably the unluckiest man in Europe."
"He was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong job. He never wanted to be Tsar, he never wanted to lead the country, he never wanted to lead the army. He was a private man, intensely religious, utterly devoted to his family, and never had a chance to do any of that because of the nature of the regime: absolute monarchy has the terrible curse of having to live with the people who are born into it."
"The court gets dreadfully bad publicity because it was appallingly bad at public relations, and that was really the fault of the Tsarina herself."
"She was shy, gauche. She could sometimes be appallingly rude without really meaning to be. She'd choose the wrong people to do certain jobs, and another curious thing about that court was it wouldn't spend money. Nicholas II, for instance, use to put the stamps on all his own letters because they were too mean to pay for stamps – rather felt, that they ought probably to economize."
"The idea that there is a heartland of Russia, in which there are lots and lots of Russian patriots, is a bit of myth."
"They are illiterate. They're miles from anywhere. They're not really touched by the world of nationalism, which is largely – not entirely – but largely, an open thing."
"Alexandra was an Anglo-German whose mother died when she was six."
"She was brought up by her grandmother, Queen Victoria. She was really almost more English than German. She was very devout. She had a narrow European aristocratic education. She spoke languages, but she didn't really read widely in philosophy and European culture and literature. She was a passionate woman – as a young woman, and an older woman – and this showed in her beliefs. It showed in her love of her husband."
"This kind of passionate simplicity? which Alexandra brought to the throne, to her husband ? was destructive."
"She had a great deal of influence on Nicholas. Nicholas was not a strong man, he was not decisive. Alexandra was a strong woman and very decisive, but her advice and her influence were exercised in a destructive way. Not because she intended it to be destructive, but because she thought she was doing the right thing."
Robert K. Massie