An Idiots Guide to the Russian Revolution 1917 Part 1

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A brief look at the history of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

It's important to look at this aspect of Soviet history in little details that can be digested.  It is also crucial to remember that this is not the entire history, nor does it claim to cover all of it.  This is simply an introduction to the Russian Revolution of 1917. 

One part of the Revolution took place in February of 1917, which is when many people believe the Revolution actually started. This forced Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate the throne. When the Provisional Government took over, this put an end to the Romanov dynasty.

Reasons for the First Push:

1) Russian army disgusted with how they’re being treated and with how the war (First World War) was progressing. Also, the army was inexperienced and outdated

2) Restlessness in urban areas: Petrograd (St. Petersburg) and other cities

3) Increased disillusionment among the lower classes and the social classes within Russia

4) Workers getting more and more frustrated with conditions and how wages were distributed

Make no mistake about it, these were tough conditions for the general population. When the summer of 1917 had ended, and the winter months began, conditions worsened and impatience became a significant issue.

The Aftermath of February, 1917

When tsarism was torn apart, the Provisional Government took over power with the Duma (parliament) as the representatives. It is important to know that between February and October 1917, the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet co-operated with each other to prevent any political tensions. This, however, eroded as of March 1, when the Soviet of Petrograd issued Order No. 1. This order ensured that any military orders that contradicted the Soviet’s orders were not put in place. Thus, the Petrograd Soviet had gained supremacy. Officers in the army no longer had the leverage they had had previously.

The main leader of the Provisional Government, Alexander Kerensky, had promised many things to Russia in order to prevent more restlessness in Russia and bloodshed in the Great War. These promises were not carried out, and left many people disgruntled with the way things were being dealt with.

What is a Soviet? Why are they so crucial?

A Soviet can be considered the same as a council. There isn’t just one of them, but the closer they are to the urban centres (Moscow, Petrograd, etc.), the more influence they have. A Soviet can consist of workers committees, workers themselves, soldiers in the army, etc. Think of how frustrated the army was getting, along with the workers. Consider how Kerensky’s promises were not being fulfilled. The Soviet only gained numbers and influence from these factors.

These councils are important because of their wish for democracy. Since they became such large groups, they were able to use their numbers to impose their influence upon the state.