The 1905 Revolution Was Crushed. the February 1917 Revolution Succeede

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There have been many revolutions throughout history, but few are as mighty as The Russian Revolutions of 1905 and February 1917. Whilst there are similarities between the two revolutions, the differences are also notable. The revolution of 1905 marked an opening chapter to upheaval in Russia during the early 1900’s. It was merely a faint echo throughout Europe. The February 1917 revolution, however, immediately caused the abdication of Tsar Nicolas II. Similar circumstances and a common goal were evident between the two, despite having different outcomes.

Even so the theme which is shared between the Revolutions is the discontent amongst the Russian people for their leaders. Until the end of the 19th century, Russia was ruled by an autocratic Czar. The Czar ruled aspects such as law, taxation, justice, the army and all the countries officials. Though the Czar, fundamental laws could not be changed without his consent. The powers of parliament which was known as the Duma were weak. This autocratic rule was sustained by nobles. Who were privileged in having the opportunity to possess land and have the opportunity to hold office in the Czar’s administration.

The majority of Russian people were called Serfs[1]. Essentially being slaves to the nobles, they commonly worked on the noble’s private land. Serfs were often mistreated whilst being reprimanded by the noble’s. They were often sold off to other noble’s as if they were animals. This harsh treatment was slowing brewing to a boil after discontent was first evident in 1861. [2] To make things worse famine, recession and the following rapid migration to the cities resulted in vast shortages of food and housing.

The Russian Revolution of 1905 followed the defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, as did The First World War in the February 1917 revolution. Resistance from the masses ensured. In January of 1905, Father Gapon who was part of the Pro-government trade union[3] organised to lead workers to deliver a petition signed by over 150,000 people[4] to the Czars winter palace. Once there, the peaceful crowd was fired upon without warning by the palace guard. The Serfs held the Czar in high regard, referred to him as, ‘Little Father’[5] and following the events of Bloody Sunday that shattered their illusion.

As a direct result of this, 3 million workers went on strike[6] In August of 1905, the Czar allowed the proposed Duma to have advisory power but not legislative power. However to the Serf’s, these changes made little difference and riots still raged on. Furthermore these workers believed that they should have a vote in the proposed Duma. This was just the beginning of the 1905 revolution movement. In September of 1905, a meticulously planned general strike took place from September 20 until October 30. It took the Czar by surprise and caused great disruption, it brought Russia to its knees.

It was the most successful strike in Russian History[7]. Advisors of the Tsar noted the dire nature their position and the Czar was persuaded to take action. As a result the Czar signed a document promising a range of civil exemptions, including freedom of speech, the press and of worship. Also, the very liberating agreement to allow the newly formed Duma to have legislative power and no laws could be brought in without the Duma’s approval. Finally, Russia became a Constitution. However this was short lived. The Czar, with assistance from the army, arrested the leaders of the St. Petersburg Soviet, Moscow soviet and the whole Bureau of the Peasants’ Union. Consequently, by the end of 1905, the revolution came to an end. The revolution of February 1917 was however a success, greater desperation due to a lack of food, fueled demonstrations. The vast majority could not afford the basic essentials, which had inflated to unobtainable levels. This was caused by the First World War. Autocracy collapsed once again.

‘…The nature of Russia’s new constitution would be decided by a Constituent Assembly, to elected by the Russian people as soon as the circumstances permitted’[8] In March however, Serf’s in St. Petersburg went on strike, this time for more basic of human essentials, food. In an effort to suppress the protestors, Czar Nicholas II ordered troops to shoot at them, however unlike in 1905 on Bloody Sunday; the troops in fact sided with the people instead. The Duma then set up a Provisional Government to govern the country. The Russian people then did the same; they set up local governing body also known as a soviet. [9] By the end of 1917, headed by the Bolsheviks, Russia was a communist state. Both 1905 and 1917 had different outcomes, but shared commonalties also.

Both revolutions were triggered by a war. In 1905 revolution followed the Russo-Japanese conflict of 1904-1905 in which Russia was defeated. The government failed to meet the problems caused by rapid industrialisation. [10] Whereas in 1917, the strain and demorialising nature of the First World War, caused the Russian people to stand up and take to the streets in protest. Workers in factories worked extremely long hours, had poor safety standards, low wages to produce supply for the war effort during that time.

Women and children were required to work throughout the World war. This angered families and sought to protest for better living conditions. The First World War highlighted Russia’s economic problems and this was evident to the workers who worked in dire conditions, producing material for the Army. As was way in 1905 when Russia suffered its defeat to Japan. Both 1905 and 1917 revolutions showed the Russian people the fragility of its government. This fragility was particularly evident during war time; however the events of Bloody Sunday in 1905 helped spur on change in 1917.

Having experienced what change in power was like, even for its short duration in 1905, the Russian people at least had a taste of what their collaborative efforts could achieve. So in January of 1917, a strike was called by the Worker’s Group in St. Petersburg to rally in the memory of the Bloody Sunday, January 1905 protest. 140,000 workers assembled. [11] Sentiments of past circumstances relating to war fueled the workers to protest. The events of 1905 still rung loudly in the ears of the workers, creating distinct ties between the two revolutions.

As circumstances change, differences between the Revolution of 1905 to the one in 1917 occur. World War 1 was taking a huge toll on the Russian people, and unlike 1905, in 1917 they were lacking one’s most basic need, food. Logistics delivering food and supplies were greatly reduced and the workers on 1917 were not just concerned about their daily living conditions, like in 1905 but compounded by the desperation for bread to eat, which what the situation was like in 1917. Forty five per cent and fifty-four per cent of all men[12] were involved directly with war and this caused labor shortages not seen in centuries.

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