Key Topic 2: Bolshevik Takeover And Consolidation 1917 - 1924 Flashcards Preview

Unit 2 - Russia 1917-39 SIMPLIFIED > Key Topic 2: Bolshevik Takeover And Consolidation 1917 - 1924 > Flashcards

Flashcards in Key Topic 2: Bolshevik Takeover And Consolidation 1917 - 1924 Deck (62):

Why was the Provisional Government established?

  1. Because people wanted leadership.
  2. Because the Duma and Petrograd Soviet agreed to set it up to run things 'unofficially' until elections and a new government was set up.


How was the Provisional Government set up?


  • Following the (spontaneous) February Revolution, The Duma met in one part of the Winter Palace while the Petrograd Soviet met separately in another part of the palace.


  • Eventually, on the 2nd March 1917, 12 Duma deputies agreed with the Petrograd Soviet that they would set up a Provisional Government.


How did Russian people feel about the Provisional Government in the beginning?

At first, the Provisional Government was popular because:

  1. They gave new political freedoms and promised a new Constituent Assembly, to be elected in November.
  2. People were hopeful it would rule effectively and make reforms, such as: end the war, re-distribute land, give people food to eat. 


What problems did the Provisional Government have in giving people what they wanted?

  1. They didn't have complete control - PG needed the help of the Petrograd Soviet to make laws happen.
  2. Private landowners still controlled most of the countryside and would not agree to give their land away.
  3. PG always saw itself as a temporary organisation - so it didn't make big changes like taking Russia out of the war
  4. PG's attempts to give food and land took ages and were slowed down by the war.


Did the Provisional Government give the people ANYTHING they wanted?

By April 1917, the Provisional Government had:

Introduced the 8-hour working day

Made it legal for people to form political parties and hold public meetings

Released political prisoners.

Unfortunately - these reforms only made it easier to criticise the Provisional Government for all the other changes they had failed to make!


Who were the leaders of the Provisional Government?

Prince Lvov - Prime Minister Guchkov - War Minister (and leader of the Oktobrists) Kerensky - Minister of Justice (and a Social Revolutionary) Remaining ministers were chosen from the Oktobrist and Kadet parties - so the Provisional Government was very middle-class.


What were the key features of the return of Lenin?

When war broke out in 1914, Lenin was in Austria. He was arrested but allowed to travel to neutral Switzerland. He soon discovered that many socialists and Bolsheviks supported the war, even though he was bitterly opposed to it. After the February Revolution, Lenin was desperate to return to Russia. He wanted to push for peace and an end to the chaos in Russia. The Germans helped him return in a sealed train - hoping that he would overthrow the government, declare peace and free up the German army in the East. Lenin arrived in his sealed train in Petrograd on 3rd April 1917. He was branded a German spy, in the pay of the enemy - but he didn't care - the money he was given by the Germans would help finance his revolution.


What did Lenin do when he returned in April 1917?

Lenin declared that he would work against, not with, the Provisional Government. He said that the Provisional Government was evidence of a bourgeois revolution and that now he needed to make sure there was a worker's revolution. He set out his main policies in a speech that became known as the April Theses.


What were the April Theses?

1. Peace - the war with Germany had to end; 2. Land - all land had to be given to the peasants; 3. Bread - food production would be increased by creating communal farms 4. 'All power to the Soviets' - the Bolsheviks would take over all the soviets in order to achieve their aims.


Why did support for the Bolsheviks grow from April 1917?

Initially, the April Theses were not popular, even with many Bolsheviks. However, as the Provisional Government started to fall apart, support for the Bolsheviks grew. Eventually, only the Bolsheviks were excluded from taking part in the Provisional Government. Combined with ongoing terrible losses in the war, they became known as the only revolutionary group that stood for real change and an end to the war and their membership shot up.


What was the June Offensive?

This was the last gasp of the Russian Army in World War I. Enough troops were scraped together for an offensive but, almost inevitably, the result was a disastrous failure. The morale of the army declined further and there were huge increases in the level of desertions. The soldiers became more receptive to Bolshevik propaganda and the loyalty of a number of units to the Provisional Government was now uncertain.


What were the July Days?

Following the failure of the offensive in June, there were more spontaneous protests in Petrograd but now people were chanting Bolshevik slogans like: 'Peace, Land and Bread'. The Bolsheviks made an attempt to seize power in Petrograd in July. Here, Lenin made a serious misjudgement which could have led to disaster for the Bolsheviks. Only small numbers of soldiers and sailors actively supported the Bolsheviks and the uprising was suppressed by loyal troops. A number of Bolshevik leaders were arrested and Lenin fled to Finland.


What were the effects of the July Days?

On 21 July, Prince Lvov resigned, handing power over to Kerensky. Kerensky accused the Bolsheviks of being German spies (after all, they had been financed by Germany!). The Bolshevik newspaper, Pravda, was banned. Lenin fled the country and went into hiding in Finland. Kamenev was arrested.


Why didn't the failure of the July Days and Lenin going into hiding finish off the Bolsheviks for good?

Lenin successfully directed the Bolsheviks from Finland and they continued to function and maintain their high profile. Lenin encouraged peasants to seize even more land - so he won more support in the countryside from peasants. From July onward, there were thousands of small-scale land seizures by peasants across Russia. Bolsheviks slogans like 'Peace, Land and Bread' were becoming even more popular and soldiers (who were basically peasants in uniform) continued to find the idea of Bolshevik soviets running the country and ending the war attractive.


Who was General Kornilov?

Kornilov was appointed as the head of the Russian army by Kerensky, who had taken over the Third Provisional Government. Kornilov was a supporter of the Tsar and he hated the soviets.


What did Kornilov want?

Kornilov was disturbed by the growing unrest in towns (such as the protests in Petrograd in July) and the peasant uprisings in the countryside. He wanted Kerensky to impose martial law and break the power of the soviets.


Why did Kornilov start to advance his troops towards Petrograd?

Kerensky couldn't decide whether to get support from Kornilov or the soviets (he could not have support from both!). Finally, Kerensky asked Kornilov to send troops to Petrograd - thinking he was protecting himself from the soviets. However, Kerensky then panicked! He suddenly decided that Kornilov was going to take power for himself in a coup. Therefore, he released leading Bolsheviks from prison and gave the Red Guards weapons.


Why did Kornilov fail?

Whatever Kornilov was attempting to do (we still are unsure if he was really trying to help Kerensky or take all power for himself or even put the Tsar back as leader), it didn't matter - the Bolsheviks infiltrated his troops and persuaded many to stop their advance. The Bolsheviks also used their 'de facto' power over the railways and telegram offices to cause delays. Kornilov never reached Petrograd and was arrested along with 7,000 of his followers.


What were the effects of the Kornilov Revolt?

1. Kerensky's government looked weak; 2. The Bolsheviks took control of the Petrograd Soviet and, with Trotsky as chairman, were now the most popular revolutionary group in Russia - there was a feeling that their time had come to be in control; 3. The Bolsheviks were now armed and had their leaders back out of prison (they had been imprisoned after the July Days); 4. The military was now too weak to attempt to set up a military dictatorship.


Why did the October Revolution happen when it did?

The Bolsheviks were now in control of the Petrograd Soviet and in a much stronger position to realise their goal of bringing about the revolution they desired. In November 1917, a Russian Congress of Soviets was due to meet in Petrograd. By seizing power before then, the Bolsheviks could claim to be acting in the name of the Soviets. Delay would be dangerous. In December, the Constituent Assembly would be elected - the first real and official Russian Parliament. Once it met, it could challenge the authority of the Soviets - and the power of the Bolsheviks. Also, Lenin was genuinely worried about another attempt at a military takeover, this time by a general who was more intelligent and better organised than Kornilov had been.


When was the Kornilov Affair/Revolt?

August 22nd - 27th 1917


21st October 1917

Most army units in Petrograd promise loyalty to Trotsky and the Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC).


23rd October 1917

Soldiers in Petrograd fort join the MRC.


24th October (night) 1917

Kerensky shuts Bolshevik news offices and orders the arrest of the MRC. The MRC take over the offices, the main river and canal bridges, the army headquarters and the telegraph station. A large warship that was sympathetic to the Bolsheviks, the "Aurora", steamed up the river Neva and trained its guns on the Winter Palace, where the Provisional Government was located.


25th/26th October 1917

On the night of the 25th/26th October, the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace and arrested the Provisional Government. Lenin now proclaimed a new government of Russia, by the Soviets. The Congress of Soviets met and endorsed the action of the Bolsheviks. The Bolshevik Revolution was now a fact.


Why did the Bolsheviks win?

Lenin pressed the Bolsheviks to lead a revolution in October and made sure it was just the Bolsheviks - not sharing power with other revolutionary parties. The Provisional Government failed to disarm and disband the Red Guard after the Kornilov Revolt. The Provisional Government did not act against the threat in time - maybe they thought rumours of a revolt were not real. The Provisional Government had become so unpopular that most soldiers switched sides so it could not gather any troops at the last moment. The takeover was well planned by Trotsky - He organised the Red Guard and volunteers from the army, navy and factories to work together to a careful plan.


Did the October Revolution go exactly according to Trotsky's careful plan?

Not exactly - there were moments of confusion and disorder, such as when the guns on the battleship Aurora jammed. However, overall the main parts of the plan were carried out well.


What was the Council of People's Commissars?

The CPC (Sovnarkom in Russian) was the organisation set up by Lenin in October 1917 to rule by decree until the November vote for the new Constituent Assembly could take place.


What was the Central Executive Committee?

The CEC was set up to check the power of the CPC - but both groups had Bolshevik majorities. This was an example of Trotsky's clever leadership.


What was a 'decree'?

A decree is a kind of public announcement of a new law. Lenin decided that the CPC would rule by decree until the new Constituent Assembly was voted in.


8th November

Land decree: Land belonging to the Tsar, Church and nobles handed over to the peasants (540 million acres). Also, Russia asked for peace with Germany..


12 November

Working day limited to 8 hours. 48-hour week. Rules made about overtime and holidays.


14 November

Workers to be insured against illness or accident.


1 December

All non-Bolshevik newspapers banned.


11 December

Kadets banned and leaders arrested


20 December

Cheka (secret police) set up to deal with 'spies and counter-revolutionaries'.


27 December

Factories put under control of workers' committees. Banks put under Bolshevik government control.


31 December

Marriages can take place without a priest. Divorce made easier.


Why was Lenin so determined to make peace with Germany at any cost?

1. Failure to get out of the war had undermined the Provisional Government and it was a central promise the Bolsheviks had made since April. 2. Lenin feared a civil war would break out and wanted all Bolshevik troops free to fight for him in that.


How did Lenin get Russia out of World War One?

He sent Trotsky to negotiate a peace settlement at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.


What were the key features of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk?

It was signed on 3 March 1918. The Germans knew that Lenin was desperate to get out of the war so that he could concentrate on civil war in Russia, so they set a very high price. Trotsky delayed as much as possible, hoping that a communist revolution might happen in Germany as well but eventually had someone else sign it because he found the terms so humiliating. According to the treaty, Russia lost: 80% of its coalmines 50% of industry 26% of railways 26% of its people 27% of its farmland - including the wheat-growing area of the Ukraine.


What was the Constituent Assembly?

This was supposed to be Russia's new parliament - elected in the first free elections in Russian history. Elections took place in November 1917.


Why was the Constituent Assembly dissolved?

1. Because the results went against the Bolsheviks! The Social Revolutionaries won more seats than all the other parties put together (370). The SRs then tried to get rid of earlier Bolshevik decrees and limit the power of the Assembly. 2. Lenin claimed that because Russia had a system of soviets across the country, they didn't need the Constituent Assembly. 3. Lenin was worried that ethnic minorities, such as the Finns and Estonians, were using the vote to try and break away and disintegrate Russia.


How was the Constituent Assembly dissolved?

Less than 24 hours after it first met, Lenin used the Red Guard to dissolve it. Over 100 people were killed and wounded outside the Tauride Palace. Leaders of opposition parties were killed and the Red Guard prevented elected Deputies from entering.


What was the Red Terror?

The Cheka, under its leader Dzerzhinsky, had unlimited powers to target any potential 'enemies of the state', 'class enemies' or 'counter-revolutionaries'. Following an attempt to assassinate Lenin in August 1918, Dzerzhinsky began the 'Red Terror' - by the end of 1918, the Cheka had removed over 50,000 people - creating a climate of fear and terror across Russia and even within the Bolshevik Party. The Cheka was unpopular and some people dared to criticise Lenin and Trotsky for allowing the Red Terror, but they realised that it was necessary for them to keep power at this point.


What were the main causes of the civil war?

The Bolsheviks (the Reds) had earned a lot of different enemies who all wanted to get rid of them for different reasons; they were called the Whites.


Who were the Whites?

Foreign troops - angry that Russia had left WWI because of the Bolsheviks (e.g. General Miller of the USA). Kerensky and his troops. Kornilov, Denikin and their volunteer army. Kolchak - an ex-naval commander with a base in Siberia. Yudenich from Estonia. The Czech Legion - roughly 40,000 soldiers who had been part of the Tsar's army and captured the Trans-Siberian railway.


What was the difference between the Red Guard and the Red Army?

Red Guard = workers' fighting units set up by the Bolsheviks, never numbered more than 10,000 - they had weapons and some training, but were not a proper army. Red Army = set up on January 28 1918 and run by Trotsky - based on the Red Guard but grew rapidly. In 1920, it had around 5 million trained soldiers.


How did the civil war go at the beginning?

At first, the civil war went badly for the Reds. They were attacked on all sides by the White armies led by experienced officers. The Reds suffered defeat after defeat in 1918 and early 1919: Yudenich, with British support, threatened Petrograd. Denikin, with French support, threatened the south, especially the Ukraine. Kolchak, with British support, attacked from the east.


When was the civil war?



Why did the Bolsheviks win the civil war?

The Reds had some decisive strengths whereas the Whites had some clear weaknesses.


Red strengths

War Communism - Red Army was prioritised - equipped and fed. Trotsky as a leader - inspirational speaker - he introduced conscription to enlarge the army up to 5 million men and forced ex-Tsarist officers to lead the men. Supported by the peasants - who feared a return to the old tsarist system. Cheka - up to 50,000 people were killed by the Cheka for helping or supporting the Whites (but the Whites killed far more!). Controlled central area with good transportation. Single aim - to win - and a single language to aid communication.


Why did the civil war start to turn in the favour of the Reds?

Due to the leadership and organisation of Trotsky and the weaknesses and divisions within the Whites.


What were the key features of War Communism?

Factories with more than ten workers were nationalised. The Bolsheviks took control of mines, workshops and railways. Workers were forced to work in factories. Grain was taken from the peasants using force. The Bolsheviks took control of the banks. Private trade was not allowed. Food was rationed.


What were the effects of War Communism?

The Reds were able to prioritise the army and this probably enabled them to win the civil war. Productivity fell - because peasants had all surplus taken away - there was no incentive for them to produce more grain than they needed or breed more animals. The total output of mines and factories fell in 1921 to 20% of the pre-World War I level. The resulting food shortages in 1920 led to a famine in 1921 that caused the deaths of approximately 7 million people. It was so unpopular that it triggered open opposition to the Communists - in 1921, there was open mutiny of thousands of Kronstadt sailers, who had been the Bolsheviks' most loyal supporters.


What were the key features of the Kronstadt Mutiny?

Kronstadt had been at the 'vanguard' of the socialist revolution in 1917. Kronstadt is a naval fortress in Finland. In March, the crews of the battleships Petropavlovsk and Sevastopol mutinied and declared a Provisional Revolutionary Committee. They were angry at the effects of War Communism and the way the Communists were taking power away from the soviets. Trotsky had to use the Red Army to put down the rebellion and 20,000 men were killed or wounded in the fighting. The surviving rebels were either executed by the Cheka or sent to gulags.


What were the key features of War Communism?

Factories with more than ten workers were nationalised. The Bolsheviks took control of mines, workshops and railways. Workers were forced to work in factories. Grain was taken from the peasants using force. The Bolsheviks took control of the banks. Private trade was not allowed. Food was rationed.


What were the key features of the NEP?

Money was re-introduced, with a new coinage. Workers were paid wages again and there was a new state bank. The state stopped taking crops from peasants - if they grew more than they needed, they could sell it at a profit for themselves but then give the state 10% of that profit in tax. The state kept control of big industries, but factories with fewer than 20 employees could be privately run and make a profit. The state brought in 'experts' from other countries to run the factories. These experts were paid more than the workers - which was against communist theory - but they got the factories working again. Anyone could open a shop or hire out goods for a profit - these people became known as 'NEPmen'.


What were the effects of the NEP?

Agricultural production went up: from roughly 80 million hectares of grain in 1922 to 100 million hectares in 1924. Factory production went up: the overall value of factory output more than tripled between 1921 and 1925 to reach 7,739 million roubles. The economy was strengthened by the return of money, wages and small-scale profit making.


What was the NEP?

The NEP was Lenin's response to the unpopularity of War Communism. It was a step back from communism, towards capitalism.


What were the key features of the NEP?

Money was re-introduced, with a new coinage. Workers were paid wages again and there was a new state bank.


What happened to Lenin?

His poor health from 1920 onwards ended up with him having a series of strokes that paralysed him. He died on 21st January 1924. His body lay in state in Moscow for four days and nights and nearly a million people made the 'pilgrimage' to see it. At the end of the four days, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in his honour.