1917 February Revolution Causes (political problems (Rasputin (Rasputin…
1917 February Revolution Causes
Incompetence of Tsar NII
refused to accept any reduction in the absolute power
detached from the plight of the Russian people and his policies also alienated ethnic minorities.
When the Duma was recalled during World War 1, a group of Octoberists and Kadets established the Progressive Bloc.
This group wanted to have more control over the war. In response, in 1915, Nicholas closed the Duma. This alienated many liberals.
Nicholas declared himself Commander in Chief of the army and departed for the Eastern Front to take control of operations
However, Nicholas was not well educated in the tactics of war.
Moreover, his absence left a weakened government in Petrograd
Tsarina and War
The departure of Nicholas II to the front left his wife, Tsarina Alexandra, in control -> not hugely popular in Russia. German princess = some were suspicious as to where here loyalties lay in the war.
Alexandra gained increasing influence over the appointment of ministers to the government. She was determined that no member of the imperial government should ever be in a sufficiently strong position to challenge the authority of her husband. She appointed less threatening, sometimes incompetent, ministers to replace those who knew how to govern.
As a result, members of the government tended to be increasingly weak and ineffective men. They owed their positions to winning favour with the Tsarina, rather than their ability and effectiveness.
This would have been bad enough with Russia at peace, but in wartime, it led inevitably to disaster for the monarchy and for Russia.
appointed 4 PMs after 1915
Ministerial leapfrogging - ground government to a halt
The imperial family was brought into disrepute as the Tsarina fell under the influence of Grigori Rasputin.
Rasputin was a monk from Siberia. He was rumoured to be a Khlyst, member of an extreme underground sect that had split from the Orthodox Church. He was infamous for his drunkenness and for womanising.
However he also gained a reputation as a healer, able to perform amazing feats and miracles.
Tsarevich Alexis was suffering from painful bleeding as a result of an injury. It was not publicly known but Alexis suffered from the blood disease haemophilia.
After Alexis recovered, Tsarina Alexandra became convinced that Rasputin could control the young boy's illness
He advised the Tsarina on appointments to the government, interfered in important decisions. He could do no wrong in the eyes of the Tsarina. Excuses were always made for his excessive and antisocial behaviour.
To the Russian people,
Rasputin symbolised everything that was wrong with imperial government.
The court and the royal family became objects of ridicule, to be despised. Rasputin's murder by royalists at the end of 1916, came too late to undo the damage he had caused.
The membership and influence of revolutionary groups had been severely reduced by 1914, mainly through the repressive tactics of Stolypin and the Okhrana. But radical opinion was not wholey defeated:
Pravda, the Bolshevik newspaper, was highly popular amongst workers.
Revolutionaries managed to assassinate Stolypin in 1911.
Revolutionary groups survived underground and continued to attract support.
Impact of WWI
Major loss at Tannenberg (50,000)
Masurian lakes (retreated losing about 125,000 men and 150 guns)
Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive and the 2nd Battle of the Masurian Lakes.
The Germans and Austrians unified their command and were able to successively rout Russian forces, who lacked modern weaponry or enough supplies. The Russians were forced into retreat. Large areas of Russian territory including Lithuania and Poland, were overrun. (Scorched earth)
For a time, the Russians achieved victory against the Germans and Austrians and regained some territory. However, the gains were minimal and Russia suffered heavy defeats late in the year.
In 1915, Tsar Nicholas II took personal command of the army. He left St Petersburg and moved to army headquarters in Russian Poland. Nicholas II may have believed that, by taking charge, his army would be inspired and would fight with renewed vigour.
The organisation of the Russian army deteriorated and there were massive shortages of ammunition, equipment, and medical supplies.
TNII was personally held responsible for Russian defeats
Vital raw materials from overseas could no longer reach Russia.
shortages of raw materials and finished goods. The army faced major shortages of supplies and weapons.
Russia had an underdeveloped railway system
This was taken over by the government to be used primarily for the war effort. It had to cope with the pressures of moving large quantities of troops and supplies to the battlefronts.
This made it more difficult to keep the cities supplied with food
Agricultural methods remained backward and still relied on many peasants being able to work the land. Millions of peasant farmers were conscripted into the army. This led to a major shortage of manpower on the farms and a corresponding fall in production.
There were serious shortages of food in the city shops. The price of even the most basic foods was rising steeply.
1916 inflation = 200%
Revolution from below
ssian Army had retreated from Poland and Lithuania in 1915, they had employed a ‘scorched earth’ policy, destroying a great deal of farmland. Peasant livelihoods were obliterated.
Shortages in grain during the war resulted in many of the poorer land workers hoarding what they produced.
Discontent of workers
The ‘war economy’ had resulted in a steep increase of workers in the cities. City administrations faced added pressure to provide housing and services
Unemployment rose in industries that were not directly contributing to the war effort (these factories could not maintain a supply of raw materials).
Living conditions deteriorated, especially as a result of shortages in the shops. These were caused by:
the abandonment of Poland and Lithuania in 1915 had deprived Russia of much farmland
peasants hoarded grain for their own use rather than selling it
the railways were committed to the war effort not transporting supplies to the cities
There was a severe lack of food in Moscow and, in 1917, Petrograd only received half of the grain required to feed its citizens. These shortages contributed to social unrest.
In January 1917, in commemoration of Bloody Sunday, 140 000 workers went on strike in Petrograd. In February, rioting broke out in the city. Crowds attacked bakeries in a desperate search for bread. This was partially in response to the announcement of bread rationing.
In the following days, strikes and demonstrations took place. Strikers from the Putilov Engineering Plantith joined the crowds at the celebration of International Women’s Day. As the number of people on the streets of Petrograd increased, soldiers refused orders to fire on the crowds. Instead they began to join in the protests.
fall of the tsar
When informed of these events, Nicholas II dismissed it as a "hooligan movement" which would soon be over. Even as his regime met total collapse, the Tsar still showed his inability to face reality.
Nicholas made an attempt to return from the war front to the capital, Petrograd, and reclaim his authority. But in late February revolutionaries diverted the train to Pskov. Isolated and powerless without the support of the army, his reign as Tsar was over - the only option now was abdication.
he Romanov dynasty surrendered control of Russia.