Assess the Impact Lenin Had On Russia and Its People

Lenin was a great leader that did a lot of things and made a huge impact whilst being ruler of Russia. He made an impact on Russia and the people of Russia in many ways. Without Lenin, Russia would not be the major world power that it is today. He is the man that laid the track for the revolution’s that occurred in Russia. He made both short-term and long-term changes to Russia. Firstly, Lenin removed the provisional government and this gave power to the Bolsheviks. In the short term, this meant that there were new laws.The land was divided and some was given to the peasants. Lenin created many policies that shaped the USSR. He introduced War Communism which led the Bolsheviks to win the war. He also introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP) which was very popular. It allowed the people of Russia much more freedom that they ever had under the Tsarist rule. After Lenin’s death the revolution and the new system of government laid a basis for Stalin and his style of totalitarianism. The communists ruled for over 70 years because of the revolution Lenin had started. Stalin only continued what Lenin had started.Between 1914 and 1917, Russia was doing quite badly, as the war was going on and Russia was doing quite badly in the war. The conditions were horrible for the Russian people. Near the end of the war, the people became angered that the war was yet not over and that their conditions were bad, so there was an uprising against the Tsar. The people were starting to rebel the Tsar and this led the Tsar being overthrown. After, there was nobody to rule the Tsar, so the Provisional Government was setup. This was supposed to rule the country, until elections were held to elect a new government.Though, as the provisional government was being setup, the Petrograd Soviets council was formed with it. This meant that the power to rule the country was equally split between the Soviets and the provisional government. All decisions made by the Provisional government had to be agreed with by the Soviets. Though, it was true that the Soviets actually had more power than the Provisional government. This is because the Soviets had issued Order no. 1, which gave it control of the armed forces in Petrograd.The first thing that the Provisional Government did, most people were in favor of because it gave the Russians a lot more freedom than they have ever had.”Most people were in favor of the first measures taken by the new government. Political prisoners were freed, and the government announced that there would be freedom of press, freedom of speech, the right to strike and an end to social discrimination and the death penalty. Russians had more freedom now than they had had for centuries”.Russia and the USSR – FiehnThe whole course of the revolution changed when the leader of the Bolsheviks, Lenin arrived in Petrograd. Lenin had been in Switzerland during the March Revolution and could not get back to Russia as he would have to cross Germany, where there was war. Though, the Germans helped him get to Russia, as they though he would cause trouble for the Russian government. This was true because once he arrived at Petrograd Station he was started stirring up problems. He made a speech demanding four main things:? There should be no co-operation with the Provisional government? The war should be ended immediately? The land should be given to the peasants? The Soviets should take powerRussia and the USSR – FiehnThese points were later became known as the April Theses. What Lenin was saying was that there should be a second revolution in which the workers took power. Lenin’s ideas later turned into slogans such as “All power to the soviets”. The support for the Bolsheviks was growing as they were becoming more popular with the people. Lenin’s speech was about there being a Socialist revolution was very powerful:”But suddenly it became apparent that he has the ear of the man in the street, and of the man in the factory and barracks! His whole genius consists in his ability to say what these people want to say, but do not know how to say”.Russia and the USSR – FiehnOne of the main points in the April Theses was that land be given to the peasants, this was a dream come true for the Russian peasants. They had always wished that they could own their own land, on which they could grow their own food. Though, the provisional government did not want to hand out land to the peasants because they felt that if they did this, the army would fail as most of the army consists of peasants. They felt that if too much land was given that soldiers would go back home and work on their own farms. So after a while the peasants got fed up of waiting for what they were promised and in 1917 they started to seize land for themselves. In this process many landlords were killed, house burned and land taken. The state in the countryside was very bad with peasants seizing land at an increased rate. To stop the peasants, Alexander Kerensky decided that any peasants who took land would be severely punished, usually by violence. So he sent out ‘Punishment Brigades’. This made the peasants dislike the provisional government even more.This then led to there being massive food shortages and shortages of fuels. This meant that the people of Russia were hungry and cold. Then the little bread and other food rations that were being given out were decreased and all prices on food items greatly increased. Nobody could afford to buy any food now and led to people having to resort to crime. The situation in Petrograd was getting worse and worse:”Week by week food became scarcer. The daily allowance of bread fell…Towards the end there was a week without bread at all…There was milk for half the babies in the city; most hotels and private houses never saw it for months”Russia and the USSR – Description from an American JournalistAs there was no food or fuel reaching the cities, all factory workers in the cities could not work because of lack of fuel. Thus, thousands of workers became unemployed. Now these workers could not even buy any food because they had no income. The state in Russia was going to get even worse if there was nothing drastic done.Lenin and the Bolsheviks opposed the war and they told the public that they wanted the war to be ended straight away; this is what made the Bolsheviks different than other political parties. As the war continued, the situation in Russia got worse. There were more food shortages and this led to more people being opposed to the war. During the war Alexander Kerensky made a huge mistake by launching a major attack on the Germans which ended in a terrible defeat for the Russians. This event led to a huge demonstration in Petrograd, known as the July Days. On the 16th and 17th of July, soldiers, sailors and workers all came onto the streets in protest of the war.These people looked for the Bolsheviks to lead them as they were the main anti-war party. Though, the Bolsheviks were not yet ready to take power. After a while the demonstration turned into rioting. Troops had to be sent in to break up the mobs on the street. Kerensky was so annoyed that the Bolsheviks had become so powerful that he used this opportunity to create false evidence that showed that Lenin was in the pay of the Germans. Lenin had no choice but to leave to Finland and he did so. Many Bolshevik leaders were arrested. The Bolsheviks had missed their opportunity to take control of the city and it was Kerensky who came out as Prime Minister.Though, luckily for the Bolsheviks they were given a second chance in the autumn of 1917. Kerensky had appointed a general named Kornilov as head of the army. Kornilov felt that it was time to deal with the revolutionaries once and for all and to establish his own strong government in Russia. So Kornilov ordered his troops to Petrograd and the people of Petrograd were in a state of panic, as they knew there would be violence and bloodshed once the Cossacks arrived. Kerensky was also panicking and in reply to Kornilov’s actions, he asked the Bolsheviks for help. There were a group of workers, who had been secretly training called the Red Guard. Kerensky gave rifles to the Red Guard and soon they were on the street prepared to defend Petrograd from Kornilov. Though, Kornilov’s troops had never arrived because the trains they were on were stopped by the railway workers. Kornilov’s troops were then persuaded by fellow workers and soldiers not to fight with their fellow Russians. However at the end, the Red Guard kept the rifles given to them by Kerensky.The support for the Bolsheviks was now very high, as they were seen as the saviors of Petrograd. The popularity of the Bolsheviks was growing while the Provisional governments were decreasing. In October, Lenin secretly returned to Petrograd from Finland. The night of his arrival was spent arguing with the other Bolshevik leaders that they show seize power immediately. Finally the Bolsheviks agreed with Lenin and took control of all the main places in the city of Petrograd. On the 7th of November, the Bolsheviks announced that they were going to take over Petrograd. Their attempt to take over was a complete success as the Provisional government surrendered immediately when the Bolsheviks had attacked the Winter Palace and the Bolsheviks then had complete control over Petrograd.In November 1917, Lenin was in control of Petrograd and he setup a new Government call Sovnarkom. This meant the Council of People’s Commissars. Of which Lenin was chairman, Trotsky was commissar of war and Stalin was commissar of nationalities. The only way for Lenin to still have support from the public was if he carried out the promises that he made in his April Theses. These are the first decrees made by Sovnarkom:November* A maximum eight-hour day and 48-hour week declared for industrial workers.* Employment insurance introduced for workers for injuries, illnesses and unemployment.* All titles and class distributions abolished-no dukes or landlords, the title ‘comrade’ for everybody.* Women declared equal to men.* All non-Bolshevik newspapers banned.December* Liberal party, the Cadets, banned.* All factories to be put under the control workers’ committees.* All banks to be taken over by the government.* The army to be more democratic- officers to be elected, no ranks or saluting.* Church land to be confiscated by the state.* Divorce made easier and marriages do not have to be in churches.Russia and the USSR – FiehnThere were also decrees made on land and food in order to carry out his promises made in the April Theses. The land decree made sure that all the land be taken away from both the Tsar and the old landlords and that it was to be given to the peasants. The peasants would then form committees to insure that the land was divided fairly. The food decree was absolutely vital for Lenin to create. It was a priority to get food to the cities. If any peasants would not sell their produce, than Lenin sent out the police and the Cheka to take it from them.The Cheka were a form of secret police set up in December 1917 by Lenin. Its job was to arrest people who were considered to be of threat or dangerous towards the government. It became so serious that if someone spoke badly or opposed the Bolsheviks, they could be shot without even a trial. Lenin used terror to control the people and this became a main feature of his reign as leader.In November 1917, Lenin was forced into holding free elections which was promised by the Provisional government. The railway workers in a way blackmailed Lenin into having to hold Russia’s first free election. This was because they said they shut down the railway if Lenin didn’t hold the elections. The elections would was to choose a Constituent Assembly which would decide how Russia was to be governed in the future. This was a threat to Lenin so what Lenin did was he sent troops to shut down the Assembly after it first met in January 1918. In that same year, Lenin changed the name of the Bolshevik party. It was now called Communists.Lenin had promised in the April Theses to end the war and therefore he had no choice but to do it, or the Communists would not be able to stay in power. So he sent Trotsky to meet the Germans, to negotiate a peace treaty. Trotsky walked out of the negotiations as the German’s wanted too much territory. Though Lenin had no choice but to send Trotsky back, as the war needed to be ended as soon as possible. The result of this was the very harsh Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918. The following is some of the losses for Russia as a result of the treaty:* 62 million people (one-sixth of the population)* 27 % of farm land (some of the best in Russia)* 26 % of railways* 74 % of iron ore and coalRussia and the USSR – FiehnThe Treaty of Brest-Litovsk may have taken Russia out of the war, but it cost Russia very dearly. Though, it had to be done. Russia lost much of its territory, people, railway and raw materials. The land lost greatly affected the Russian economy because much of Russia’s best farm land was lost, as was about one-sixth of Russia’s population.The decrees that were passes by Sovnarkom had good effects on the people, though there were some people who dislike the decrees. The decrees improved the standard of both living and working conditions for the peasants and the workers. Working hours decreased and the workers now had insurance against injuries, disease and unemployment. This meant that all workers were now much safer and this made all the workers much happier. Another thing that helped the workers was the decree that put factories under the control of workers committees. This resulted in the workers being happier which led to them working more efficiently.Though, not all people liked the decrees. It was the middle class and the nobility that disliked these decrees. This was because their owned business and banks were taken away from them. Also, the decrees made the peasants and workers look as equals to the middle class. This insulted the middle class and nobility.When the provisional government was around the people had some civil liberties but because of these decrees, these civil liberties were once again taken away. The churches were taken by the state which meant that people were again not free to practice their religion:”One of Lenin’s early decrees after the revolution concerned the separation of Church and State, which occurred in January 1918. As a Marxist, Lenin had no time for religion. Persecution of the Orthodox Church by means of depriving it of its property, arresting priests, and active discouragement of Church services, began soon after the Revolution.”J. Laver (Coursework Booklet)In the summer of 1918, the Communists were under attack in the vicious civil war that eventually tore Russia apart. The Communists only controlled a small area of Russia and its enemies were motivated not to let the Communists stay in power. There were three sides in this civil war:1. The Reds – They were the Communists (Bolsheviks). They were named the reds because red was the colour of communism2. The Whites – The main enemy of the Communists. These were mainly the noble and the middle-class who wanted the Tsarist regime back. They were named the Whites because Tsarist officers always wore white uniforms.3. The Greens – These were independent group of nationalists, peasants or bandits who roamed Russia at the time.Both the Reds and the Whites knew that getting the peasants on their sides would help them to win the civil war. This was because nearly 80% of the population consisted of peasants, so the majority would be with them. Both sides tried to influence the peasants to support them by using techniques such as propaganda. To get the peasants to support them, the Reds said that the peasants who supported them could keep there land. While the Whites would return there land to their original landlords. Lenin played a major part in the civil war as he was the one that was running the government and organising for food and equipment to be reaching the army. It was a hard job but Lenin got it done. Though, to do so Lenin had to introduce a tough policy that became known as War Communism.In the cities, the state took full control of all factories and told them what to produce. Lenin put his own managers into the factories and he imposed very harsh discipline on the workers.”One might have thought that these were not factories but the forced labour prisons of the Tsarist times”Trade unions became disallowed and workers were not allowed to leave their own cities. Food than became rationed, but you were only allowed ration card if you were working. The rations were very low and slightly larger rations were given to factory workers and soldiers. There was one other way of getting food; this was through the illegal black market. The conditions were very bad at this time. The rouble in 1920 was worth 1% of its value in 1917.In the countryside, the peasants were very unwilling to sell their grain for money, as money had no value. Lenin was in a desperate need of food to feed the workers. So he ordered the Cheka to seize any surplus food. Those peasants that were found holding back any supplies were punished. This led to many peasants only producing enough grain for themselves. Therefore the situation in Russia only got worse.The use of terror was why the Communists won the civil war. The Cheka became very brutal; anybody opposing the government was shot or sent to labour camps. Many people thought that it was even worse that in had been when the Tsar had been in charge. But Lenin had to use terror or else he would not have won the war;”Probably Lenin would have preferred to govern without terror, but he was quite sanguine about applying it in what he considered to be an atmosphere of class conflict. ‘How can one make revolution without executions?'”J. Laver (Coursework Booklet)Russia was in a very bad state by March 1921. Industrial production had fallen disastrously. Agriculture had also collapsed. Lenin had to do something to improve the situation in Russia, if he and the Communists were to stay in power. Therefore Lenin abandoned his policy of War Communism and made a new policy called the New Economic Policy (NEP). Many of the communists were unhappy at this policy as they felt it was a return to capitalism but they went along with it as the economic state of Russia was horrible.One of the main features of the NEP was that grain requisitioning was stopped. Peasants no longer had to worry about their produce being taken away from them by force. The peasants would have to give a small amount of grain each year to the government as a tax. Though, any surplus of theirs could be sold on the market for a profit that they could keep. Peasants were happy because they were allowed to make profits so they worked harder and produced more. Though, the peasants who could not succeed were not happy, the ones who did became richer. These richer peasants later became known as Kulaks who were land owning peasants.Another main feature of the NEP was that Traders could buy and sell goods. This had been illegal during War Communism. These traders were known as Nepmen and they made high profits by buying food and goods at low prices, but selling them for high prices. These traders brought goods to stores in large quantities.Another feature of the NEP was that the smaller factories, especially the ones producing consumer goods, were returned to its original owners. They were allowed to sell the goods it produced and make profits. Though, all large industries that produced raw materials, were kept under state control. Only very few larger factories were allowed to sell their products. This resulted in a boost in Russia’s economy and helped Russia to become the strong country it is now.Lenin felt that for Russia to progress even further, it needed to become modernised. So he introduced electric power into Russia. This was known as the electrification of Russia. He introduced a great network of power stations which would provide power for modern industries. Lenin believed so much in electric power that he said:”Soviet power plus electrification equals Communism”Russia and the USSR – FiehnThe NEP was a great success and made Russia more prosperous. Russia’s economy greatly improved under the NEP. The supply of grain, coal, steel, electricity as well as other things, greatly increased. Also, the average wage of a worker nearly tripled. Therefore Lenin did a great thing by introducing the NEP as it vastly improved Russia and the Russian people.In January 1924, a tragic event occurred. Lenin died because of the many strokes he had earlier. The Russian people were in a state of immense sadness as they realized that they had lost a great leader for Russia. Though, even though Lenin died his policies and ideology led the path for Stalin. It was Lenin that allowed for Russia to become the world power that it is today. It was Lenin who laid the tracks for Stalin and Stalin completed what Lenin did not have enough time to do. Lenin is considered to be one of Russia’s greatest leaders and the impact that he had on Russia and its people was great.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top