Why was there a successful revolution in February 1917 in Russia?
By 1917, Russia in a state where demonstrations were becoming more frequent each week. Many of these demonstrations happened in Petrograd over food shortages and oppositions grew against the Tsar as this happened. The number of demonstrators rose to nearly of quarter of a million. The Russian people were constantly being let down by the Tsar and the depression grew. The war caused most of these food shortages, as any available food would be taken to soldiers instead of the rest of the population. The strains from the war caused an impact on all societies.
The peasants suffered most of the hardships of the war and so became much more radical and revolutionary groups began. Many of the concessions made by Tsar to the middle class societies were still controlled by the Tsar like the Dumas and so the growth political opposition grew. These are some of the cause of why the February revolution was a success. The Tsar was not a very good ruler of the country. He listened to others for advice and rarely made his own decisions. The personality of the tsar was clearly an aspect that contributed to the deterioration of the Russian government.
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He was often a charming person but very weak. Nicholas believed in the firm system of autocracy. Nicholas exercised his power through the army, the secret police and the Russian Orthodox Church. The tsarist regime was resist to change and the repression of the tsarist system like the Okhrana (secret police) caused many people to think about the system. The effects of the war generally the main reason why there was a revolution in 1917. When Russia first joined the war in 1914, there was patriotism and loyalty to the tsar and for the war.
People wanted a short and victorious war but they were still behind in technology and agriculture for of at least 50 years. But when Russia had lost their first battle, the morale of the army and also the population of the country were low. The low morale continued as the war progressed. Russia was continuing to have high casualties and kept losing supplies and food and the fact that they had no good quality weapons meant that they were not going to be successful in the war. The war caused a shortage of food; this was because any food available would go straight to the soldiers.
The war speeded up the process of change- people had soon had enough of the tsar and of what they thought was a pointless war. There was also an economic collapse, which affected all societies after Russia pulled out of the war. The landowners of large estates were hit by a collapse in the value of land. Many industrialists realised that when they failed to secure government orders for war goods, they found themselves disappearing of the markets and many small businesses found themselves bankrupt.
The food shortage led the prices of meat and flour rising by 300 per cent. The war also caused wages to fall and so strikes and protests occurred. The growth of political opposition grew. Many groups got organised. The liberals, the social revolutionists, the socialists, Bolsheviks and Mensheviks all had a problem with the Tsar and its regime. The political opposition started happening from 1905. This was because of the 1905 revolt called ‘bloody Sunday’.
In 1905 the Tsar’s government had introduced new economic policies which were aimed at strengthening the regime. But these changes were still to create tension in the future as they were still confined by the autocracy system. Even though the tsar had given the Bourgeoisie a Duma it was still controlled by the Tsar so there was still resentment and also there was no change in the government, even when the Tsar left. There was too much weakness in the economic system and there were too many pressures of the social and economic change like the industry.
Before the war, the common strikes were for overworking conditions. In February, on the 23rd, there was an emergence of a ‘focus’ for political opposition. They all had a main focus, or goal. Here on the 23rd, Petrograd was at stand still. The attempts to stop the demonstrators were hinder by the police and army and so the Tsars traditional allies were breaking up even the middle class were against the Tsar. In a way, When the Tsar entered Russia into the war this would be the turning point for the 1917 revolution.
This is because the war would cause food shortages and low morale of the army and the Russian people and this would just be the starting of Russia problems. It would also cause hyperinflation and the revolts. But there many other factors to be included like the repression of the tsarist government and the weakness in the economic system. It would seem like that further on Tsarism will not exist anymore in Russia. It could be said that the ultimate defeat of Tsarism was Tsarism. This was because the Tsar’s system was too harsh and unfair to peasants.