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How the Bolsheviks were able to seize control of Russia in October 1917

Czar Nicholas II ruled Russia in 1900 as an absolute monarch. It was known as an autocrat as he had complete power so he could make laws and govern as he pleased. He believed in divine right which was a belief that it was his god given right for him to rule and for him to be Czar. Nicholas II was crowned and dubbed Czar ofRussia in 1895. Nicholas II main supporters were the church and nobility. Russia’s wealth was in the hands of the Czar, the church and nobility which many people resented.Russia’s population was made up of the professional middle class, peasants and a small group of industrial workers. The Czar’s ministers and most highly ranked army leaders were made up of a small number of extremely rich families. In reality Russia was controlled by these vastly rich families’s one of the most dominant of the families were the Romanou family. Some people thought and believed that the Czar’s’ rule was incompetent. The Czar’s’ power was kept in place and enforced due to his army, his secret police the Okhrana and the Russian church which was the Orthodox church. The church taught its followers that ‘God commands us to love and obey every authority and particularly the Czar.Peasants made up 80% of the Russian population. Most peasants lived in extreme poverty. The peasants had land which was given to them in 1861 but they had to make expensive annual payments to keep this land. This made the peasants very frustrated and unhappy.The Czars’ rule was also known and described as cruel. Lots of peasants came from all over Russia to the cities to find work. These workers were mainly young men. The workers were mainly young men. The workers were forced to work long hours in terrible conditions for very low wages. These workers were brilliant investments in the eyes of factory owners, bankers and businessmen as employing these workers made them so rich that they formed had established a class of their own. This appalled the working class, but if there was any sign of the workers expressing this view. The Okhrana obliterated that view by almost any means possible. The workers were pushed further towards revolt as public meetings became controlled, trade unions and political parties banned and censorship applied. There were no unions or elected parliament in place to help the workers dilemma.The Czar now was opposed. The main opposition towards the Czar were the Liberals who were also known as Kadets they were middle class professionals who wanted to keep the Czar but they wanted him to share his power with a democratically elected parliament which was known as a Duma. Another group was the Social Revolutionaries known as the SR’s they were peasants who wanted to overthrow the Czar, the church and the nobles. They also wanted land to be handed over to the peasants in order to create a communist society. The last major opposition towards the Czar was the social Democrats known as the SD’s followed the communist ideas and teachings of Karl Marx who was a German writer and political thinker. Karl Marxs’ main belief was that every country would evolve through several stages of evolutional development until it reaches its perfect stage. In this perfect evolved stage everyone would live as equals in peaceful and harmonious communist society. Marx also believed that to achieve this perfect evolved stage overthrowing and revolt might in some cases be essential.Primitive stages in the Communist/Marxist stage of evolutionKarl Marx believed that at the start of the primitive evolution stages no one owns land, all people are equal, their were no classes.Revolution is notrequired to progressto the next evolved stage.Second stage of evolutionMarx believed that the second stage of evolution was a feudal society stage, there was a ruling class made up of the nobles who owned the land. In the second stage the peasants work the land, so peasant’s progress and became merchants and factory owners, the peasants who do progress to become merchants and factory owners become the bourgeoise class. The bourgeoise class despise the power of the nobles as they make up laws to protect and secure themselves.To progress to the nextstage a revolution wouldbe essential to revolt againstthe ruling noblesThird stage of evolutionMarx believed that the third stage would be composed of a capitalist society. In this stage the bourgeoise in particular the factory owners become dominant. The proletariat class work in the factories. Because the factory owners keep the capitalist profits for themselves the proletariat feel abused.Revolution is neededto evolve to the next stage.The ruling bourgeoise classis over throne by theproletariat classFourth stage of evolutionKarl Marx believed that the fourth stage was the perfect evolved stage, It would be made up of a socialist society, the working ‘proletariat’ class dominates in this stage. The proletariat gains control of the country they take over the industry and land but the wealth that is produced is shared. At a steady pace the people become equal and classes are abolished as they slip away.No revolutionis needed to progressto the next stageFinal Perfect stageThere is now a perfect stage of communism. Everyone is equal, there is enough for everyone and wealth, food, land and everything else is distributed equally according to needs.In 1903 the Socialist Democrats split up into two groups which ere the Mensheviks, led by Martov and the Bolsheviks led by Vladamir Ulyanov (Lenin). The Mensheviks believed that the Russian proletariat didn’t have enough supporters to revolt against the bourgeoise class. Martov did not mind uniting and working with other groups to produce a larger proletariat population. Where as the Bolsheviks thought it would be best for a small party to revolt on behalf of the rest of the proletariat. The minority and the majority soon started to disagree on arising matters.Both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks were illegal and so the Okhrana intervened. The most highly ranked leaders which included Lenin escaped and went into exile. The SR’s soon started to gather lots of support compared with the SD’s. In 1905 ministers of the Czar became worried about economic depression as well as strikes that had now become common and increasing opposition from the Kadets, SR’s and Marxists. So the ministers warned Czar Nicholas that a revolution may soon take place.The Czar decided to go to war with Japan as a popularity stunt, one which he would later regret. The war with Japan created many hardships amongst Russia. To some the news that Russia had lost the war was baffling and unbelievable as Russia was a giant and thought of as a super power compared with Japan. The Russian armys’ main flau was disorganisation and inadequate leadership.The news of the disgraceful/humiliating defeats spread like wild fire amongst the workers and peasants. The defeats struck anger into the hearts of the people. The workers and peasants decided to stage a strike to protest against the Czars’ incompetence, inadequacy and insubordination. The date of the protest was set for Sunday 22nd January 1905 it started out as a peaceful protest. There were about 200,000 protestors led by a priest named Father Gapon. The protestors made their way to the Czars’ Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg which was the capital of Russia at that time. The protestors demanded a minimum wage, an 8 hour day and basic civil rights. When the Czars troops noticed the marching protestors they opened fire without any hesitation, remorse or warning. An estimated 200 people were massacred. The protest turn massacre became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’. Consequences of Bloody Sunday varied from strikes and riots. To help the massacre terror and devastation blow over the Czar agreed to the October Manifesto which made him promise to share his power with an elected parliament which was known as a Duma. Whenever a Duma which had opposition towards the Czar was elected the Czar would dissolve them and would not let them work unless he was in complete control of them. In reality the Czar was not prepared to let any of his autocratic rule slip away.In 1914 Russia united with allies like Britain and America against Germany in the First World War. Although Russia was known as the ‘Russian steamroller’ which referred to its immense size they were not organised so due to this Archillies heal they suffered heavy, humiliating devastating defeats. The First World War also created dire hardships amongst Russia. In September 1915 the Czar took personal command of his army to lead it into victorious battles. Czar Nicholas also made a vital mistake at home as he left his German born significant other (wife) Alexandra in control of Russia. The Czar was not experienced in commanding or leading an army into battle. The result of his in experience was humiliating, crushing defeats for which he was now personally and directly blamed for. Czarina Alexandra was not very respected throughout Russia because she was of German origin and because she became familiar and associated with Grigory Yefimovich who was known as the drunken monk Rasputin.The royal family became familiar with Rasputin as it was believed that he could perform miracles in which he could heal their only son and presumed heir Alexis of haemophilia. Rasputin soon started to influence the Czarina into making decisions. A majority of the decisions that Rasputin had helped to be, turned out to be bad ones. Soon competent capable ministers became replaced by incompetent and not so capable ones due to Rasputin’s influence and advice. The Czar and Czarina became known as the drunken monks’ puppets.Rasputin was murdered on December 30th 1916 by some nobles who wanted to preserve and rescue Russia, By this time Russia was facing terrible hardships, their became a shortage of raw materials, shortages of food, shortages of fuel for the towns so strikes became imminent.Normally strikes and protests were abolished by the army but on 23rd February 1917 a strange turn of events took place as when the Petrograd Garrison (the army) were sent to aid the police in crushing the revolt they refused to do so and instead decided to open fire on the police and join the protestors. Now that the Czar had lost the support of the army it became compulsory for him to resign.The Czar was now out of the picture. So he was replaced by a Provisional Government which was led by Alexander Kerensky and made up of mostly Kadets, it was planed that the Provisional Government would lead Russia up till the point when the decision on what type of government would be most suitable was made. The Bolsheviks led by Lenin planed to overthrow the provisional government. But his plans were unveiled by Russian authorities so Lenin was sent to exile in Finland. The provisional government made two dire mistakes which made them extremely unpopular with the citizens of Russia. The mistakes were, to resume in the war with Germany which led to even more suffering for the Russian population and being slow during the process of sharing the land out between the peasants.During these troubled times the Bolsheviks mobilised and started to organize so Soviets (council of workers) could prepare to take power of Russia. The Czar could no longer be supported and was made aware of this of this point by his army commanders so he along with his family exiled to Siberia for their own safety.Stalin and Kamenev two central committee members returned to Russia on March 12th from their exile in Siberia to join the limited numbers of Petrograd soviets who were in Russia. Lenin snuck back into Russia on April 3rd 1917. The main reason for Lenin’s return from exile was that he had learnt that his comrades and fellow Bolsheviks were planning on reuniting with the Mensheviks and were ready to give up and accept the Provisional Government but Lenin was determined not to let this happen.Lenin took control of the Bolsheviks as soon as he could. Lenin’s slogan now became “Bread, peace, land’ and ‘All power to the soviets.’ Lenin thought of the situation between the government and the soldiers as an advantage because he could now gather more followers for his parties’ regime without any/no disturbance from authorities. In July Lenin was to face a set back as protests that Bolsheviks were involved in to protest against the government backfired and failed. Some of Lenin’s fellow Bolsheviks and comrades were being titled enemies of the state and some ended up getting arrested so Lenin slipped into exile in Finland.In August General Kornilov a recently elected commander of the army tipped the scales in the Bolshevik’s favour as he planed to overthrow the government. The governments’ leader Kerensky became aware of Kornilovs’ plans and decided to call on the Bolshevik paramilitary troops which was also known as the Red Guard which was led by Leon Trotsky for help for the purpose of defeating Kornilov because he was very desperate. The Bolsheviks agreed to help Kerensky and General Kornilov was defeated. The Bolshevik popularity was now officially restored and Leon Trotsky was elected leader of The Petrograd Soviet. Leon Trotsky had now established himself pretty well amongst the Bolsheviks by now and it seemed as if he was next in line to succeed Lenin. Trotsky was also the leader of the Soviet’s new Military Revolutionary Committee known as the MRC. The MRC was mainly in control of defence and acquiring weapons for defence. The MRC was really acquiring weapons for a Bolshevik revolution not for defence or security. This seemed to be an ingenious plan of action.October became a crucial month for the Bolshevik as this was the month of the revolution. On the 7th of October 1917 Lenin returned from exile in Finland to Petrograd in secret. On the 10th of October Lenin persuaded most of the Soviet Central C committee to be in favour of the revolution; In October during the 16th to the 24th Lenin went into hiding inside of Petrograd. On the 23rd of October there were reports carried out by Trotsky reporting 15 out of 18 armed groups based in the capital agree with the plans complied by the Bolsheviks to seize power of Russia, Kerensky sends orders to his troops from the Provisional Government headquarters the Winter Palace to shut down Bolshevik newspapers in order to stop their ideals and influence to spread any feather but the Red Guards prevent this from happening. In the evening of the 24th Lenin goes to Smolny Institute the party headquarters’. On the 25th of October at 2:00am revolutionary troops take over Petrograd’s (the capital city) bridges, railway stations, central post office and other City’s strong points.At 3:30am revolutionary ships of the Baltic Fleet led by the cruiser Aurora arrive and aim guns on to the city. By 4:00 more important buildings like news agency’s had been seized. At 10:00am Kerensky escapes and attempts to contact allies and loyal troops to defeat the Bolsheviks. Lenin and Trotsky approach the Petrograd Soviet and declare the end of the Provisional Government although it is still officially in power at this stage in the revolution, At 9:40pm the cruiser Aurora begging to fire blank shots aimed for the Winter Palace and the inhabiting troops abandonee the government. At 11:00 pm Peter and Paul Fortress stationed guns open fire on the Winter Palace. On the 26th of October in 1917 at 1:50am the Winter Palace is rushed by The Red Guard which was being defended by young Kadets and women’s groups. Their were six fatalities during the attack. By the evening the Congress of Soviets elected a new government. In which Lenin is declared chairman. The Bolsheviks have now officially and successfully achieved power and control of Russia.

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