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Russian Revolution Timeline
Transcript of Russian Revolution Timeline
The Tsar's Abdication and The Provisional Government
On March 2, after a great deal of pressure from the Duma and the military, Nicholas II abdicates. Leaving his Brother Michael in his place rather then his son, who was to sickly. The next day, Micheal also abdicates leaving no Tsar for Russia and only the Duma to take control. The Duma becomes the countries provisional government until a Constituent Assembly could be elected later.
Although many countries around the world see the provisional government as Russia's legitimate government, in Russia the Pertograd Soviet held the same amount of power if not more. With almost 3,000 members who were mostly Mensheviks, the group was if favor of radical changes to Russia. Though both groups had every different views for Russia's future, they ended with working together with major decisions.
Lenin's Return to Russia
During the February Revolution, Vladimir Lenin had been living in exile in Switzerland. his leave and return was lead by the germans and they did so with the intent of destabilizing Russia. When Lenin arrived in Petrograd on the evening of April3, 1917. His arrival was enthusiastically awaited, and a large crowd greeted him and cheered him as he stepped off the train. To their surprise, however, Lenin expressed hostility toward most of them,. denouncing both the provisional government and the Petrograd Soviet that had helped bring about the change in power he considered any who stood outside his own narrow Bolshevik enclave to be his sworn enemies and obstacles to the "natural flow of history.
Lenin's April Theses
On April 16, 1917, the Bolshevik newspaper published the ideas contained in Lenin's speeches to overthrow the provisional government, which came to be known as the April Theses. From the moment of Lenin's return he began to build up support for the bolshevik party and worked toward seizing power for the party. Lenin made several attempts to start a revolution but no coup grew out of the demonstrations. He realized that in order to take power he needed to be more organized. Lenin decided to build up his military and take over the government by force.
Lenin's First Attempts to overthrow the Government
Throughout the month of June, the First All-Russia Congress of Soviets was held in Petrograd. Out of 784 delegates who had a full vote, the Bolsheviks numbered 105, though they were a minority, their voice was heard. As the Congress discussed the future of Russia,doubt was expressed if any existing party would actually accept the responsibility of leading the country. The Bolsheviks weren't taken serious as a strong future lead while the party was actually quite serious.
Bolshevik- Incited Demonstration Failure.
On June 9, 1917, the Bolsheviks called for all civilians and soldiers to fill the streets of the capital and to condemn the provisional government and demand and immediate end to the war.
International Women's Day
February 23, gathering of working-class women in Petrograd form a protest demonstration calling for "bread and peace". The protest started out peaceful but later turns violent when thousands of male workers join, and call an en to the war and the monarchy. Police are unable to control the crowd. The Tsar Nicholas II orders an end to the protests to be ended on February 25.
In order to follow the Tsars orders troops of a local guard regiment fire upon the crowds of protester on February 26, the regiment fall into chaos, as many soldiers feel empathy for the crowd of protesters. The next day, more then 80,000 troop mutinied and joined the crowds to fight against the Tsar as well.
This event showed the power of the people against the Tsar, and how the Tsar only used force stop the people. The Tsars forced only angered the people more and gave the people a reason to start the revolution of Russia.
The Duma and the Petrograd Soviet
During this period, two political groups in Russia quickly recognized the importance of what was developing and began to actively discuss how it should be handled. The Duma was already in active session but under the order of the Tsar to disband, though it remained and met in secret to discuss. it soon came to the conclusion that the unrest in Russia was was unlikely to be brought under control as long as Tsar Nicholas II continued to maintain his position in power.
During the same period, the Petrograd Soviet, an organization of revolutionary-minded workers and soldiers dominated the Menshevik Party, convened on February 27, 1917. They immediately began to call for a full-scale revolution and an end to the monarchy all together.
The Kornilov Affair
In the Kornilov affair, according to one account, Vladimir lvov a former member of the Duma planned to exploit the bad relationship between Kerensky and Kornilov. Lvov wanted to save Russia by installing a military dictatorship and saw Kornilov as the best fit. First Lvov visited Kornilov, telling him that Kerensky was offering him dictatorial powers in Russia. Lvov then went to Kernsky informing him that Kornilov demanded martial law to be established in Petrograd and that he gave Kornilov full authority. Neither knew of the other's intentions so on August 26 1917 Kerensky paniced and publicly accused Kornilov of treason. Kerensky appealed to the Bolsheviks for help but no military coup materialized. Kornilov was infuriated by the accusation as he had been told he was offered to take power. This affair weakened Kerensky's credibility with the military and the rest of the country. Also this made the Bolsheviks seem more powerful.
The Red Resurgence / Victory in Moscow Soviet
August 31, they finally achieved a majority in the Petrograd Soviet, and on September , 1917, they won a similar victory in the Moscow Soviet. Although Prime Minister Alexander Kerensky's authority was faltering he provisional government was coming closer to organizing the Constituent Assembly, which would formally establish a republican government in Russia. Elections for the assembly were scheduled for November 12. Lenin knew that once this process started, it would be harder to seize power while still maintain the appearance of legitimacy. if there were to be another revolution, it had to happen before then.
Bloshevik's approve armed uprising and Final Plans
On October 10, 1917 the Bolshevik party hold a meeting, in which Lenin delivers an impassioned speech where he restates his reasons for an uprising. Members are reluctant at first but in the end all but two approve of an armed uprising against the provisional government. Lenin's followers being to make finals plans and assemble forces. The Second congress of Soviets was scheduled for October 25, and the Bolsheviks were confident in there support. The Bolsheviks decide to hold the revolution the day before the meeting for congress to approve and then ask for approval of their actions just to be sure. At this point the Bolsheviks had an army made of the Military Revolutionary committee, a part of the Petrograd Soviet. Lenin knew the troops were unreliable, but would support them when they saw the Bolsheviks had the upper hand.
October 24 Revolution
Bolshevik made their way to preassigned positions and systematically occupied crucial point in the capital such as the telephone and telegraph offices, banks, railroad stations, post offices, and most major bridges. In the morning of October 25, the Winter Palace was the only government building that had not yet been taken. Although the palace was defended weakly by the junker cadets, most of the Bolshevik soldiers were unwilling to fire on fellow Russians or on the buildings of the Russian capital. Instead, small groups broke through the palace windows and negotiated with the junkers, eventually convincing many o them to give up. The ministers were finally arrested shortly after 2:00am on October 26 and escorted to prison cells in the Peter and Paul Fortress. The congress was declared open, even though the Winter Palace had still not been taken. Lively debate and disagreement took place both about the Bolshevik-led coup and also about who should now lead Russia.
Russia's Final War Offensive
On June 16, 1917, Alexander Kerensky orders the Russian army to take offensive along the Austrian front. The troops are ale to make progress against the Austrians until German reinforcements arrive, and Russians troops fled in panic. This was a complete failure and weakened Kerensky politically. Lenin takes this opportunity to agitate the Russian people and waits for the right moment to stage his uprising.
The July Putsch
On June 30, the Petrograd Machine Gun Regiment was ordered to report for duty on the front and it was met with protest. On Jul 3, 1917, Bolshevik leaders decided to try to use the regiment, their own armed forces, and sailors from a naval base to take over the Petrograd Soviet. On July 4, an armed mob began to assemble outside the Tauride Palace, where the Petrograd Soviet had its headquarters. The mob was ill-organized and fear spread so they departed and the front line troops returned to return order. Arrest warrants were issued for all Bolshevik leaders. Lenin managed to escape to Finland and Kerensky was promoted from minister of war to prime minister. In July, the Prime Minster Kerensky appointed General Lavr Kornilov commander in chief of the Russian arm. However, Kerensky soon began to fear that Kornilov was plotting to set up a military dictatorship and lack of trust grew.
The Constituent Assembly eventually became problem for the Bolsheviks and it appeared that they might have to make drastic compromises to stay in power. They dealt with the problem by first declaring the Cadet Party illegal and demanding the Constituent Assembly give ups legislative authority. The Assembly in the end only met once on January 5, in which they refused to give up their authority and the Bolsheviks declare the assembly permanently dissolved. They were replaced by the Third Congress of Soviets, and 94 percent were required to be Bolsheviks and SR delegates. The group removed the "provisional" from the offical description of SPR, making them permanent rulers. The terms revolutionary dictatorship and dictatorship of the proletariat began to be frequent in Lenin's speeches.
The Bolsheviks' Consolidation of Power
Even as Lenin's representatives were signing the final treaty taking Russia out of WWI, the Bolsheviks were in the process of moving their seat of power from Petrograd to Moscow. They needed military power to forces the rest of the country to comply with their vision while discouraging potential foreign invaders from interfering. They rebuilt their military force. These troops were the early core of the newly established Red Army. The other major instrument of Bolshevik power was the secret police, known as the Cheka. Official formed on the December 20, 1917, the Cheka was charged with enforcing compliance with Bolshevik rule. At its command, Lenin placed a Polish revolutionary named Felix Dzerzhinsky, who would soon become notorious for the deadly work of organization. Tens of thousands of people would be murdered at under the Cheka.
THE RED TERROR
On August 30, 1918 there was an assassination attempt on Lenin and due to this a brutal crackdown on all forms of opposition commenced. The Bolsheviks refereed to this as the Red Terror. This was the atmosphere under which the Civil War Begins, which lasts into 1920-1921.
The Civil War
It generally began during the the Summer of 1918 and ended in October 1922. As the Bolsheviks ( the Reds) were consolidating power, Lenin's opponents were also organizing from multiple directions. Groups opposing the Bolsheviks ranged from monarchists to democrats to militant Cossacks to moderate socialists and they united together to form the Whites. The Whites had backing from nations such as Great Britain, France, USA, and Japan, while the Reds sported internal, domestic support which proved to be more effective. The Allied nations were defeated. In the meantime, a contingent of about half a million Czech and Slovak soldiers, taken prisoner by the Russian army during WWI, began to rebel against the Bolsheviks, who were forcing them o serve the Red Army. They tried to escape Russia, and temporarily joined the White forces in the central Volga region, presenting the fledgling Red Army with a challenge. In response to these growing threats, the Bolseheviks instituted military conscription in May 1918.
October 27, 1917, several important decisions are made. First motion approved is Lenin's Decree on Peace, in which Russia declares a wish for World War I to end but no cease-fire. Also, the Decree on land, which officially socialized l land in the country for redistribution to peasants communes. Finally, a new provisional government as to be formed. The new government formed was called the Soviet of the People's Commissar, with Lenin as its chairman. After October 25, many Russians were indifferent to the change in government and did not expect it to last long.In the government some improvised policies were made, with no long-term plans or structure. Few realized how much bloodshed the Russian revolution would eventually lead to.
An End to the War
After Lenin's government secured power, one of its first major goal was to get Russia out of WWI. Following his Decree on Peace, Lenin sent out diplomatic notes to all participants in the war calling for everyone to cease hostilities immediately if they didn't want Russia to seek a separate peace. The effort was ignored. Therefore, in November 1917, the new government ordered Russian troops to cease all hostilities on the front. On December 15 1917, Russia signed an armistice with Germany and Austria, pending a formal peace treaty that wasn't completed until March 1918. Russia's exit from war was very costly, but Lenin was desperate to end the war at any cost, as the Germans were threatening to invade the Petrograd. In the peace, Lenin consented to give up most of Russia's territorial gains since the time of Peter the Great. The Soviets wouldn't regain these territories until the end of WWII.
Death of Lenin/ Rise of Stalin
When Lenin fell ill in the summer of 1923 a power struggle for power between Stalin and Trotsky. Trotsky seemed to be the favorite of Lenin and Stalin was viewed as dangerous and power hungry by Lenin. On January 24 1924, Lenin died. During this time Trotsky was away and Stalin set up Lenin's funeral without Trotsky in order to gain support for himself. Soon Stalin began his grab for power by taking place as secretary. In this position, Stalin built up his supporters in the party and removed opponents. Trotsky wanted world communism while Stalin was insistent in "Communism in one country" which was more appealing to the Russian people who were tried of war. By 1928-1929, Stalin had secured his position, and removed rivals. Even Trotsky had to flee Russia in fear of his life. But Trotsky was later assassinated far from Russia and it is believed to have been ordered by Stalin.
First Five Year Plan
Second Five Year Plans
Due to the successes of the first plan, Stalin implemented the Second Five-Year Plan in 1932, with the official start date at 1933-1937. Heavy industry was the top priority, and put the Soviet Union not far behind Germany as one of the major steel-producing counties of the world. Improvements were also made in communications such as railways. Like that last plan, the second year plans failed to reach the recommend production levels in such areas as coal and oil. The governments control over the country did not subside and agriculture revival was unsuccessful because farmers were being imprisoned or murdered as political persecutions became stricter. The Second Five-Year plan was the start of the deterioration in the standard of living. With the focus on military goods and heavy industry the economy suffered, and much lower quality and quantity of available consumer goods.
Wanting to eliminate possible competitors, and silence opponents, Stalin began a series of purges in 1937-1938. Old members of the revolutions were charged with crimes like treason, and after a "show trials" were quickly executed. Stalin went through the army as well, eliminating 20% of its officers, an action that would cost him dearly in WWII. Some of the accused gave "confessions" before execution, but those were force under threats to families or under torture. Between 700, 000 and 1.2 million were killed on Stalin's orders, up to 1, 000 a day.
War Communism/ New Economic Policy
During the civil war the Soviets ploy an economic policy called War Communism, which removed private business and the nationalization of industry. It also forced the requisition of surplus grain and other food products. This lead to rapid decline in agricultural production, labour productivity and industrial output. Up to 10 million peasants died during this time. By March 1921, Public discontent results in strikes and protest and in response to the displeasure the Bolsheviks introduce the less-radical New Economic Policy. The new measures included the return of most agriculture, retail trade, some private ownership, and the reintroduction of money into the economy. This allowed the economy to recover from years of war.
Treaty of Rapallo
Hitler and Stalin signed an agreement on April 1 1922, that would see Russia supply Germany with war materials needed for re-armament. This was a direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles. In return, Hitler would share industrial technology and technique with Stalin, allowing Russia to catch up to the rest of the industrialized world.
Stalin signed a secret agreement with Hitler on August 23 1939, which stated that both countries agreed to not attack each other. This was done because Hitler needed to avoid a two-front war, while he began war on Poland and France. While Stalin needed more time to build up his military before a Nazi invasion. Both leaders agreed to divide Poland between each other, but this never happened.
Lenin's Decrees Issued/ New Provisional Government
The first Five Year Plan introduced in 1928 and ran until 1933, concentrated on the development of iron and steel, machine ls, electric power,and transport. Stalin set the workers high targets. He justified these demands by claiming that if rapid industrialization did not take place, the Soviet Union wouldn't be able to defend itself against an invasion from capitalist countries in the west. Factory workers were tightly controlled and high pressure placed on them. If work ethics were poor, they were accused of trying to sabotage the Five Year Plan and if found guilty could be shot or sent to work as forced labor on Baltic Sea Canal or the Siberian Railway. As part of the plan, Stalin pushed through collectivization. This forced peasants to gibe up ownership of their land and add it to a state-run pool. The state decided what needed to be done, and took all surplus for international sale, or to feed those in the cities. There was no free market. By 1930, half of the peasants were on cultaized farms. Stalin stated that German and the west were threats, and they Russia had to make up for the difference between them in only a few years. The human cost of all of this progress was very high. Stalin ruthlessly eliminated the entire Kulak class of peasant. Most of them were shot, sent to slave camps, or to the Gulags.