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The Revolution of 1917

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The RUSSIAN
Revolution of 1917
Our objectives are:
• You will be able to understand why the events of
World War I hastened the outbreak of the Russian
Revolution
• What was the ultimate fate of the Russian Royal
Family—judge for yourself if they deserved their
fate.
• In what ways did Lenin solve the erratic political
situation that existed in Russia during the
Revolution’s early months?
• You will be able to understand the deeper meaning
of the slogan “PEACE, LAND, and BREAD.”
We have already learned that war
broke out in August 1914 after Russia
mobilized to protect Serbian interest.
Peasants and ordinary workers were sent to fight
the Germans. Terrible disasters at Tannenberg
and the Mausaurian Lakes, in the first month of
the war, destroyed the Russian soldier’s
confidence…
The Germans moved deep into Russia
territory, and by 1915, over 2 million
Russian soldiers had been killed, wounded,
or captured.
The Middle class offered support to the
government. Business groups put factories
into maximum production.
But life at court was
bizarre…the Tsarina
Alexandra relied on
Rasputin to treat her
hemophiliac son,
Alexei.
All groups complained about the Tsar, the
court, and while the nation was at war, the
system seemed hopelessly “out of it.”
The Dumas reassembled in November
1916, and loudly protested conditions. The
leader of the Dumas shouted out about the
sinister influence of Rasputin.
In December 1916,
Rasputin was
assassinated by
Prince Yssapov
and others…
The Tsar had
gone to the front
to command the
troops…
While in St. Petersburg, in March
1917, food riots broke out.
Crowds shouted “Down with the Tsar.”
And, most important, the imperial troops
refused to fire on the rioters.
Mutiny and insubordination spread
throughout the city…
Middle class leaders demanded that a new
ministry be formed with approval of the
Dumas.
Tsar Nicolas retaliated by disbanding the
Duma…the city of St. Petersburg split into
two factions—those who supported the
Dumas…
And the other was the Petrograd Soviet,
representing revolutionary forces.
In March, 1917, the Duma’s committee set
up a Provisional Government.
The Tsar tried to
return from the
front, but his
train was turned
back by troops.
Nicolas
abdicated the
throne.
He also abdicated the throne for his heir,
the hemophiliac Alexei, and his brother,
Michael, also refused the throne.
On March 17, 1917,
Russia became a
republic, and the 300
year old Romanov
Dynasty came to and
end.
The Royal Family was
held at their residence,
then a year later, they
were assassinated at
Ekaterinburg, Siberia.
The Provisional Government immediately
promised elections by universal male
suffrage (haven’t we heard that before?).
They also arranged to prepare a constitution
for the new regime. Then, it tried to
continue the war against Germany…
In July 1917, a new offensive was mounted
against the Germans---but the Germans
struck back, hard.
The Provincial Government also promised
wholesale re-distribution of land to the
peasants.
Things fell apart: the armies at the front
“melted away” and made their way home to
make sure they got their share of this land
redistribution.
The Petrograd
Soviet
opposed the
war, and
called for its
immediate
end.
Vladimir Lenin arrived in
Petrograd on April 3, 1917
aboard a sealed train that
had taken him from
Switzerland through
Germany. At the Finland
Station he issued a speech
denouncing both positions
and demanding the
elimination of dual power
by the transfer of "all power
to the soviets."
Now, in July 1917, there was a rebellion
against the Provisional Government by
some soldiers and sailors.
Lenin was blamed for this, and he had to
“temporarily” flee to Finland. He would
return just a few months later and this time,
he would take control of the city.
The Provisional
Government
tried to maintain
popular support
by naming
Alexander
Kerensky as its
head.
Now, a military
commander, General
Kornilov, who was
defeated in his efforts
to overthrow the
government.
However, the
Bolsheviks continued
to press for control of
the government.
Kerensky lost support. The food situation
worsened. The war front was now in a
state of collapse.
WHO WAS GOING TO TAKE
POWER?
Lenin proposed to end the war, redistribute land,
and provide work by transferring ownership in
factories to the workers themselves.
Lenin promised PEACE, LAND and
BREAD
This slogan was
repeated in
pamphlets
dispersed
throughout the
city.
Lenin raised the
cry “All power to
the Soviets” to
crush Kerensky.
Kerensky
struggled to
control the
Provisional
Government.
Lenin judged his hour had come. He was
backed up by Trotsky and Stalin, both
emerging leaders in the Bolshevik party.
Lenin returned in October, inspiring an armed
revolution with the slogan "All Power to the Soviets!"
against the Provisional Government. His ideas which
called for a new form of government based on
workers' councils, or soviets. In this work he also
claimed that ordinary workers should, in principle, be
capable of running a factory or government. He
emphasized, though, that to be able to govern the state,
a worker should "learn communism." He furthermore
insisted that a member of the government should be
paid no more than the salary of an average worker
Troops around St. Petersburg (Petrograd)
voted to support the Soviets in their
takeover…
On the night of November 6-7th, 1917,
the Bolsheviks took over the…
•
•
•
•
Telephone exchanges (communication)
Railway stations
Electric power stations
A warship turned its guns on the Winter
Palace where Kerensky’s government sat.
The Soviets now proclaimed that they
were the new government. the Council
of People’s Commissars.
• Lenin was the head
• Trotsky was in charge of foreign affairs
• Stalin was in charge of domestic affairs among
the various Russian states.
• Kerensky fled to the U.S. and died in 1970!
Lenin introduced two resolutions:
• To negotiate a just democratic peace
• To abolish all landlord property
immediately and without compensation.
• The vast landlord estates were now given
to peasants to provide a base of support
for the Bolsheviks
Just a side note: This November revolution
is actually called the October revolution, or
October 1917, because the Julian calendar
was used in Russia until 1918—and the
Julian calendar was a month behind the
Gregorian calendar.
The long awaited constituent assembly met
in January 1918, after 36 million persons
had voted for it. But, when the votes were
counted:
• 9 million had voted for the Bolsheviks
• 21 million had voted for Kerensky
• Lenin broke up the assembly by having armed
sailors surround it.
Thus, Lenin did not favor majority rule. He
decided that the Bolsheviks would make
the decisions. Two months later, the
Bolsheviks named themselves the
Communist party.
The Russian Revolution would now
continue with a Civil War between those
that supported the Tsar (the whites) and
those that supported the Communists (the
Reds). It took years before Russia was
stable.
Stay tuned…
Our objectives are:
• You understand why the events of World War I
hastened the outbreak of the Russian Revolution
• You know the ultimate fate of the Russian Royal
Family—
• In what ways did Lenin solve the erratic political
situation that existed in Russia during the
Revolution’s early months?
• You understand the deeper meaning of the slogan
“PEACE, LAND, and BREAD.”
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