The Great War changed everything. Nicholas II (despite post-communist/soviet efforts to portray him sympathetically and Orthodox efforts to beatify him) offered no effective leadership. Catastrophic casualty statistics--literally from Day One--undermined loyalty to the Tsar and his war: of the 12,000,000 men mobilized, the casualty rate was 76%.* At the Battle of Tannenberg in August, 1914, Germany inflicted staggering losses on the Russian army: 92,000 Russians captured; 78,000 Russians killed ("Battle of Tannenberg").
|Despite the reality that the war was going badly, Nicholas fired the commander-in-chief--Grand Duke Nicholas--in 1915, to take personal command of the army; he settled in at Stavka (500 miles from the front and 1000 miles from Petrograd) to, as he put it euphemistically, "be with his men." He left Alexandra in charge as regent in his absence (essentially leaving the administration in Rasputin's hands.)* Russians fought bravely, even heroically, for Tsar and Fatherland, but, by the frigid winter of 1916-1917, they had had enough. Soldiers began to "vote for peace with their feet."|
image source < http://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/firstworldwar/rus-czar-front.htm > Nicky takes charge
*remember "Ra Ra Rasputin" < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmkySNDX4dU >
|High ranking elites, grand dukes, and even relatives of the imperial family saw the hopelessness of the situation and hoped to salvage something by murdering Rasputin, who seemed symptomatic of so much that was wrong in Russia. This cabal carried out the assassination in December, 1916. By then, it was already too late. As well, Russia's military, political, social, and economic problems were much more deepseated than the "mad monk."|
The episode of Fall of the Eagles provides some insights into Duma attitudes,
portrayed in a discussion between Miliukov/reform v. Kerensky/revolution--
after the death of Rasputin but before the actual Revolution.
< https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqYPyaXRVX4 >
|At home, peasants and workers turned against the regime. In February (OS)/March (NS,) women in Petrograd erupted in bread riots; they were quickly joined by striking workers from the Putilov Munitions Factory. Chaos reigned: Nicholas was at the Front (more or less); Alexandra was at Tsarskoe Selo nursing the family through a bout of measles. Duma leaders were ill-equipped to deal with the burgeoning crisis. Look carefully at the image: they are mostly women. Their banners read something like "Glory to the Wives Who Support the Union." The second banner reads, "Manifesto of the Wives."|
image source: Hodges. Courtesy The David King Collection.
< http://www.kingsacademy.com/mhodges/03_The-World-since-1900/02_World-War-One/02e_1917_Russian-Revolution-2.htm >
war weariness/fraternization < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQUAW_CdBds&feature=related>
Collapse of Russian Front < https://youtu.be/GQUAW_CdBds?t=301 > (stop at industry)
|The Duma called up local troops and the Petrograd garrison to restore order; at first, they did. The video clip above shows deteriorating discipline. When the soldiers fraternized with the women and strikers, some historians think that was the moment that tsardom was doomed.|
|Image source: Hodges < http://www.kingsacademy.com/mhodges/03_The-World-since-1900/02_World-War-One/02e_1917_Russian-Revolution-2.htm >
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKNSb6jatMA >
|Armed deserters converged on the capital where the Petrograd Soviet demanded peace and issued Order #1. Too late, the Tsar tried to salvage his authority, his crown, his life, and the lives of his family. Moderate members of the Duma formed themselves into the Provisional Government, led mostly by Kadets and Octrobrists, but the deserters gravitated to the Soviet rather than the Provisional Government. The German High Command (Hindenburg and Ludendorf) watched the Eastern Front disintgrate and sped it along by secretly sending Lenin, Krupskaya, and 30+ other Bolsheviks to expedite the revolution. Meanwhile, the Provisional Government pledged to continue the war, secured promises of help from the Allies, accepted the abdication of the Tsar.|
|Image source: Hodges < http://www.kingsacademy.com/mhodges/03_The-World-since-1900/02_World-War-One/02e_1917_Russian-Revolution-2.htm >|
|Rebels from the Petrograd garrison occupied the Winter Palace itself while the Soviet and the Provisional Government jockeyed for position and control over the chaotic city and rampaging soldiers. The Provisional Government, increasingly dominated by Kerensky, called for elections to a Constituent Assembly, safe evacuation of the Imperial family, continuation of the war.|
|Image source: Hodges < http://www.kingsacademy.com/mhodges/03_The-World-since-1900/02_World-War-One/02e_1917_Russian-Revolution-2.htm >|
In the winter of 1916-1917, the German High Command debated whether to resume unrestricted
submarine warfare, knowing that the US would enter the war. At the same time,
the generals argued with the Kaiser over whether to transport the various Russian
revolutionaries, especially Lenin and the Bolsheviks to Russia to foster and foment
revolution. The Kaiser and his general debate whether resume unrestricted submarine warfare
and/or to help, aid, abet the RussianRevolution in order to eliminate the Eastern Front.
< https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frjt452YzkM > see link below
Kaiser Wilhelm II makes the decision to send Lenin and the Bolsheviks to Petrograd
< https://youtu.be/frjt452YzkM?t=314 >
Cloud Biography of Lenin < http://www.cloudbiography.com/bios/lenin-vladimir.html >
When Lenin arrived at the Finland Station in Petrograd, he was
welcomed with the Marseillaise,
excerpt from Fall of the Eagles depicts advance to 8:00
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urSaGebApQs >
Arrival in Petrograd < https://youtu.be/urSaGebApQs?t=481 >
and then the Internationale
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8EMx7Y16Vo >
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZbho6AsBOc >
For more on Lenin and the Revolution, visit these Youtube sites (strongly recommend!)
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGE6T3SRNAs&feature=related >
|For all that Lenin enforced rigorous discipline on his Bolsheviks, anarchy reigned in Petrograd. While the Provisional Government dithered and tried to prosecute the war, and the Soviet worked to galvanize their base, General Lavr Kornilov threatened to march on the capital, disband the Soviet, establish a military dictatorship, and restore order-- including a threat to hang Lenin from the nearest lampost. Kerensky feared that he might dangle from an adjacent one. In what turned out to be a critical decision, Kerensky opened the arsenal and armed the Soviet. The Kornilov Affair fizzled, but it left an empowered Soviet and a weakened Provisional Government. Later, during the civil war, Kornilov led an unsuccessful effort to overthrow the Bolshevik regime and was killed when a shell "struck his farmhouse headquarters, igniting a fire that consumed him" (Gottfried, The Road to Communism 105).|
image source Wikipedia contributors. "Lavr Kornilov." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavr_Kornilov
|By September, 1917, the Bolsheviks secured majorities in the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets and backing by an armed Red Guard of 20,000 (Ascher 166). Lenin prepared for a second revolution (a coup) that would be tightly controlled rather than spontaneous and leaderless. According to communist mythology, sailors on the cruiser Aurora fired the salvo on the night of October 25/November 7 that triggered the Bolshevik coup d'etat and seizure of power. Left image shows armed workers and soldiers from a Petrograd factory. The banner reads, "Red Guard."|
|It was one thing to seize power, it was altogether another to exercise it and/or hang on to it. Russia descended into a nightmare of civil war, Allied Intervention, Red v. White Terror, War Communism, emerging with a dictatorship more despotic than anything that Nicholas II (executed/murdered in the summer of 1918) had implemented. Lenin and the Sovnarkom (Council of People's Commissars) forged ahead to build their new utopia. (See right image for the Central Committee of the Bolshevik/Communist Party in 1917. Click on link below to enlarge. The enlarged image tells how each of the Old Bolsheviks died.)|
|In short order, Lenin, Trotsky, Dzherzhinsky, et al. disbanded the Constituent Assembly, moved the capital to Moscow, adopted the Gregorian calendar; they banned religion, other political parties, and old forms of address specifiying "citizen" or "comrade," the latter for Party members (Sixsmith 214). After a failed assassination attempt and White advances, Lenin (or Sverdlov?) issued the order for the execution of the imperial family in the House of Special Purpose in Ekaterinburg (see image, left.) War Communism (absolute dictatorship of Lenin,) and the Red Terror masterminded by Trotsky (Red Army) and Dzherzhinsky (CHEKA) moved into high gear. As Commissar for Nationalities, Stalin went to the Caucasus to impose authority and discipline there.|
image source Hodges
< http://www.kingsacademy.com/mhodges/03_The-World-since-1900/02_World-War-One/02f_1918.htm >
Execution of the imperial family: the first excerpt is a powerful combination of a
Russian version and Nicholas and Alexandra < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rl7VnQeu8OQ >
at about 5:45, it flashes back to happier days.
The second clip is pretty awful but marginally less gruesome than above but replicates the scenario
< https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODyts0L-qlE >
Gallery of the Imperial Family in happier times < http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2584495/Privilege-passion-Russian-princesses.html >
|Negotiations for peace with Germany began in December, 1917, immediately subsequent to the Peace Decrees, culminating in the draconian Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, March, 1918, imposed on Russia by the triumphant Germans, who needed to transfer troops and materiel to the Western Front before the Yanks got there. (see map /right) The infant Russian republic renounced its claims to Finland and the Baltic states, Belarus, Ukraine; the Turks demanded restoration of lands lost in a series of 19th century Russo-Turkish wars. Though not specifically mentioned in the terms, Poland would achieve its independence, as pledged by Woodrow Wilson in the "14 Points."|
|image source Hodges < http://www.kingsacademy.com/mhodges/03_The-World-since-1900/02_World-War-One/02e_1917_Russian-Revolution-2.htm >|
Civil War video < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzKuwxMPbdk > show
Allied Intervention < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0_UA5mdUJM > show 2 minutes 1:00-3:04
Red Terror segment < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzN1FxxOYVE >
|The Allies (Britain, France, USA) feared the spread of the Russian Revolution. The cancellation of tsarist debts, seizure of property, nationalization of private savings and checking accounts, not to mention the murder of the imperial family led them to launch the Intervention in the summer of 1918. Although Lenin's government had signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the war raged on in the West. Anti-communist to the core, the Allies sympathized with the Whites and also moved to prevent war materiel from falling into German hands. President Wilson sent American troops to Archangel in the North and Vladivostok in the Russian Far East. Claiming the name Polar Bear Brigade, 5000 Americans landed at Archangel to join anti-Bolshevik forces and to re-open the Eastern Front, attacking Germany from the rear. (Left image, American soldiers from the Polar Bear Digital Archive)|
image source Cherny < http://nikolaidigitalhistory.blogspot.com/ >
|Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan argues that the Allied Intervention was a disorganized effort with minimal combat involvement and lack of support from the British (except for Churchill,) the French and the Americans (71-75). It played differently in the young Bolshevik regime, which saw Allied help going to various White armies and themselves unwelcome at the Paris peace talks. The effort was significant enough for veterans of the 85th Division of the U.S. Army to erect a monument to the "Polar Bears."|
image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_Bear_Expedition >
Trotsky's deputy commissar, Georgi Chicherin, commented on the peace talks, Allied
leadership, and especially Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points juxtaposed against the American
presence in North Russia (Archangel) and Siberia. Margaret MacMillan paraphrased his remarks,
"The American talked of self-determination; how odd that he had not mentioned Ireland
or the Philippines. He promised a League of Nations.... Was this some sort of a joke? Everyone
knew that the capitalist nations were responsible for creating wars..." (75).
|Before the Revolution, Russian avant-garde artists were already blazing new trails in art, design, architecture, music, etc. "Schools," such as futurism and constructivism challenged traditional artistic expression in all areas, as they were doing in the West. Lenin and the Bolsheviks utilized every possible weapon and tool in their propaganda campaign for popular support. Boris Kutodiev's "The Bolshevik" (1920) is only one example. Here (right) a giant, heroic worker leads the proletariat to victory over tsardom and the Whites. (Bailey) In a nation that was largely illiterate, poster art was an important propaganda tool.|
|Lenin struck against his internal and external enemies, expanding the Third Communist International (Comintern) to fight "by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and for the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the State" ("Comintern"). Zinoviev oversaw the implementation of agit-prop beyond Russia's borders as Sovnarkom leadership anticipated global revolution. Lenin and Zinoviev were encouraged by the Sparticst Uprising in Berlin where street fighting seemed to suggest a reprise of Petrograd in 1916-1917. Events in Russia fueled anti-communist/anti-Bolshevik fears in the United States where the First Red Scare triggered the Palmer Raids of 1919 (review US history for detail.) It should be noted in this context that Mao Zedong and his friends founded the Chinese Communist Party in 1921, apparent evidence of a spreading anti-democratic, anti-bourgeois, anti-capitalistic red "wave."|
Visit link, "The Russian Revolution in Color," Part 3 (25:00) < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzN1FxxOYVE >
based on the Kronstadt sailors' letters and other archival materials, 1918 - 1922,
with dramatic recreations of actual events and contemporary news reels
|Lenin skillfully used propaganda in the civil war including a media blitz--evidenced in Lissitzky's famous poster, "Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge." Constructivists like Lissitzky harnessed their talents to Bolshevism; his vivid juxtaposition of red (communist) and white (enemies/the Whites) emphasized and strengthened his message. He continued to be an important figure in the Russian avant garde, which flourished during the NEP "thaw." (Bailey)|
image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_avant-garde >
capsule summary of Lenin (with one error/1905) < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fG_8DzkZcuM>
|By late 1921-1922, against all odds, the Bolsheviks/communists defeated the Whites, pacified the Caucasus, proclaimed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, signed the Treaty of Rapallo with Weimar Germany, and eased up on War Communism and the Red Terror. At the Washington Naval Disarmament Conference of 1921-1922, the Allies called off the Intervention. At the X Party Congress in 1921 (subsequent to civil war, famine, peasant revolts, disciplinary breaches in the Party, revolt and ruthless crushing of the Kronstadt sailors,) Lenin announced the New Economic Policy (NEP.) Ever the pragmatist, Lenin saw that "military force and mass terror" were insufficient to "keep the lid on" (Sixsmith 243). 20,000,000 Russians had died since 1914.|
|At the X Party Congress, March, 1921, Lenin announced an apparent softening of Party controls over the economy, concessions to the peasants, and the introduction of some elements of a capitalist market place. His intent was to kick start the struggling economy, to make a "strategic retreat for a new advance," to "take one step backwards to take two steps forward." The 1925 poster (right) celebrates peasants, soldiers, workers, youth, in the heyday of NEP. Even then, its days were numbered, as were those of the successful peasants known as kulaks.|
image source < http://boingboing.net/tag/soviet >
|During NEP, kulaks were able to "own" or lease acerage and hire other peasants. Prosperous peasants, aka kulaks, fulfilled a quota and paid a tax in kind to the Pary/state and sold their produce "at the market." A kind of "golden age of Russian agriculture," replicating that of Stolypin's "wager on the sturdy and strong," brought food prices down.|
|NEPmen were the urban counterparts of the kulaks; during the agricultural boom of NEP, kulaks (and others) had more discretionary income to spend on consumers goods. Entrepreneurs known as NEPmen produced the supply to meet the growing demand for pots, pans, clothes, cosmetics, luxury goods, even cars. Kulaks and NEPmen liked NEP while die-hard communists, like Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev, feared the selfish, petty bourgeois attitudes that it fostered.|
|NEP also signalled an easing up of censorship and travel restrictions; it allowed the artists of the Russian avant-garde to revolutionize music, art, architecture, theatre, and film. Although many of the names are not so familiar in the West, perhaps they are known to some: Kandinsky (see right, On White,) Meyerhold, Mayakovsky, and the great cinematographer, Sergei Eisenstein. Georgian-born Balanchine revolutionized ballet, proving to be too avant-garde for NEP Russia. Many of these artistic innovators fled the stultifying atmosphere of Stalin's "Soviet Realism" after the death of Lenin (1924) and the end of NEP in 1928.|
For more on the avant garde, see below for Eisenstein's
October: Ten Days that Shook the World < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k62eaN9-TLY >
From the same movie "The Storming of the Winter Palace" < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8ph3SIrtQk >
Georges Balanchine "Agon" < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bx46l2gfZ0 >
XII Party Congress 1924 propaganda cartoon (go to 47)
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IkiJb4obKc >
|What Lenin conceded with one hand, he consolidated with the other. While NEPmen, kulaks, and artists wallowed in NEP concessions, Lenin tightened controls over the Party and its apparatus. Stalin secured the appointment as General Secretary of the CPSU, earning seats on the three engines of power: Politburo, Orgburo, and Secretariat. He proceeded to "stack the deck," so to speak, and fill low and medium level positions with men loyal to him and him alone. Few realized the full implications of this appointment, but they would find out soon enough!|
image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tito%E2%80%93Stalin_split >
|For all that the kulaks and NEPmen supported and benefited from NEP, it had enemies in hardliners Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev. At the same X Party Congress that launched NEP, Lenin enforced discipline according to "democratic centralism" and "On Party Unity" policy. Dissent from decisions reached by the Central Committee would be greeted with expulsion from the Party, as would "factionalism" around a particular issue. Nikolai Bukharin allied with Lenin in defense of the more relaxed policies of NEP. He served as the editor of the Party newspaper, Pravda. He did not favor the tightening of controls.|
image source < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Bukharin >
|While discussions regarding NEP and its future continued behind the closed doors of the Central Committee, the Party presented a united front in its defense. However, all issues were dwarfed by Lenin's three debilitating strokes in 1922 and 1923; the fourth, in January, 1924, killed him, rocking the Party and the Soviet Union to their very foundations.|
image source Kolata < http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/08/health/research/lenins-death-remains-a-mystery-for-doctors.html?_r=0 >
silent documentary of train carrying Lenin's body < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oStHN2xwWeE >
|After his first stroke, Lenin reflected on "the succession" and seemed to regret his elevation of Stalin, whom he called "rude." He dictated his "Testatment" to Krupskaya in December, 1922, adding a "Postscript" to it in January, 1923, warning the comrades about Stalin. However, by the time of Lenin's death in January, 1924, Stalin had already outmaneuvered other Old Bolsheviks. One rumor was that Stalin intentionally mis-informed Trotsky of the date of Lenin's funeral, ensuring the absence of his great rival. Donning Lenin's "mantle," Stalin moved to deify Lenin, whose remains are still in the mausoleum in Red Square. Stalin saw to the renaming of Petrograd to Leningrad.|
Text of the "Testatment" < http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/lenin-testament.asp >
Death of Lenin < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rie3dkLPlRA&feature=related >
"The Darkness Descends" excerpts from Russia's War: Blood on the Snow--01
< http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4hXhy8_hho >
advance to 1:23 for "Testament" and "Postscript"
|Historians suggest that at the time (1922-1925,) few would have predicted Stalin's triumph over Party, state, and nation; in retrospect, it almost seems inevitable. Stalin proved himself to be a ruthless infighter, isolating first one and then all of his perceived rivals. As Lenin's self proclaimed heir, he played upon Old Bolshevik jealousy of Trotsky, especially that of Zinoviev and Kamenev (right) who, idologically, should have been Trotsky's allies. Even before Lenin's death, Stalin, Kamenev, and Zinoviev formed a "troika" against Trotsky. Though Kamenev had not always agreed with Lenin, the two men were close: Kamenev had been a player in 1917, served on the politburo, was a pall bearer at Lenin's funeral. Kamenev had some hope of succeeding Lenin and feared Trotsky more than Stalin (more fool he.)|
|Like Kamenev with whom he is often paired, Zinoviev was born to Jewish parents and gravitated to Lenin and the Bolsheviks at the time of the schism of 1903. Like Kamenev, he had a crisis of nerves during the July Days and Kornilov Affair, for which Lenin reluctantly forgave him and named him head of the Comintern. Zinoviev, estranged from Trotsky, joined the Stalin-Kamenev troika, though he had always been known as a "hard-liner" and critic of NEP, as had Trotsky. The image (left) shows Zinoviev in a motorcade in 1929.|
image source Wolf < http://rosswolfe.wordpress.com/2011/11/ >
|The Troika closed ranks against Trotsky, whom many in the Central Committee and Party feared because of his colorful history, his roles in 1905, 1917, the Civil War, his closeness with Lenin, and his "cloak of Bonaparte." United behind "democratic centralism" and "On Party Unity," Stalin, Kamenev, and Zinoviev effectively silenced Russia's greatest Marxist theoretician by accusing him of insufficient understanding of the peasantry, rejecting "Socialism in One Country," and for his theory of "Permanent Revolution" (Ascher 178). If he spoke up, Trotsky could be accused of "factionalism." He resigned as Commissar for War in 1925. Arrogant and a loner, Trotsky was an unsuccessful infighter...and then it was too late.|
|By 1925, Stalin had neutralized and isolated Trotsky. He reminded the rank and file to whom they owed their positions and perks. This strategy enabled him to weaken Kamenev's base in Moscow and Zinoviev's in Petrograd/Leningrad. He then turned his back on Kamenev and Zinoviev, allying with Bukharin and Rykov and pledging a continuation of NEP. The popular Old Bolshevik Bukharin was no more able than Kamenev and Zinoviev to thwart Stalin.|
|At the XIV Party Congress in 1925, Trotsky and Krupskaya tried to reveal the contents of the "Testament" and "Postscript." Indicative of Stalin's control over the Central Committee of the CPSU, they were booed from the podium. At that moment, Stalin was still allied with Bukharin and Rykov. When the "left opposition" (Kamenev and Zinoviev) tried to speak, they were interrupted and booed from the floor as well.|
image source < http://the100.ru/en/womens/nadezhda-krupskaya.html >
|Finally, Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev came out in the open to halt Stalin's march to authority, control, and power. In November, 1927, on the occasion of the tenth anniversay of of the Great October Revolution, they reached outside the Party to stage a demonstration. For this "breach of discipline," Trotsky and Zinoviev were expelled from the Party; when Kamenev spoke for reconciliation, he was interrupted twenty-seven times and kicked off the Central Committee. Trotsky went into internal exile and was then expelled from the Soviet Union. Stalin's triumph was complete. (Trotsky in Mexico/right) Trotsky was murdered in Mexico in 1940.|
image source < http://www.internationalist.org/indefenseoftransprog0498.html >
The Assassination of Trotsky < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCThqw_Jmek >
In 1972, Richard Burton starred in a commercial film, The Assassination of Trotsky
(different from above) < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeKHthb-YMM >
In 2007, Britain produced a documentary on the assassination
The Rise and Fall of a Revolutionary
< https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6galA27h-TQ >
Ascher, Abraham. Russia: A Short History. Oxford: One World, 2011.
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< http://francesbaileycop.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/art-revolution-dictatorship-and-propaganda/ >
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< http://www.xtimeline.com/evt/view.aspx?id=46363 > gone
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