While we are all aware that the Russian Revolution of 1917 changed the face of the country’s history, how much do we really know about these dramatic events? If you’ve ever wanted to know more about this pivotal part of Russia’s past, here are some interesting facts.
Was the Russian Revolution in 1905 or 1917?
Whenever anyone thinks of the Russian Revolution, they immediately bring to mind the events of 1917 which led to the removal of the Tsar and the start of the Soviet Union.
In fact, the term Russian Revolution could relate to two uprisings and while 1917 is far more common, it could refer to the events of the failed Russian Revolution of 1905.
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What happened in 1905?
Very briefly, in 1905 Russia lost a war with Japan and initially there were some peaceful protests by workers in the streets. However, when one group were mercilessly gunned down on the orders of the Tsar (an incident that later become known as Bloody Sunday), a full scale rebellion began.
Ultimately, very little changed in Russia but the Tsar reacted by bringing in the Duma – an elected parliament.
While the events of 1905 had little effect at the time, the victims of the massacre were remembered in the years that followed. On January 9th 1917, the Bolsheviks organised a mass strike to remember Bloody Sunday as it had become known.
There were actually two revolutions in 1917
In fact there were two revolutions in 1917 – February and October – but let’s deal with February’s first.
As January passed, the strikes had become more organised and more widespread to the point where cities began to grind to a halt. In St Petersburg, Russia’s capital at the time, there were mass walkouts across the city.
The Army Crossed Sides
The crucial turning point came in St Petersburg when the Tsar ordered the chief of the army to use force to stop the strikes. The Chief gave out his orders but many of the conscripted troops of his army, already disillusioned by years of war and poor treatment, disobeyed them and joined the strikers instead.
Even the police went on strike
When the police joined in the strikes it really was the end. The Duma collapsed and on 15 March 1917 the Tsar abdicated, leaving a provisional government to run the country.
This government, led by Alexander Kerensky met a great deal of opposition and unrest grew which in turn led to the October revolution.
Lenin and Stalin enter into Russian history
This is the point where Lenin and Stalin returned from their respective exiles and made their marks on Russia. Lenin’s was the greater influence as he returned to lead the Communist Bolsheviks who voted in early October to rise up against the provisional government and take power.
Lenin succeeded in capturing the key cities in Russia, and the country collapsed into a four year civil war in which the Communists were ultimately victorious. The Royal Family were arrested and shot to prevent them being freed by the White Armies and therefore this removed the risk of them ever returning to the throne.
Ultimately, Lenin became the first leader of the USSR and the Soviet Union was formed, holding power until its collapse in the early 1990’s.