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Russian Revolution. Background notes For Animal Farm. Pre-Revolution. The Monarchy. Monarchy. Czar Nicholas II Tsar, Caesar, Kaiser Ruler with absolute power Took throne at age 26 Alexander III died of kidney disease at age 49 Somewhat inept as ruler

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russian revolution

Russian Revolution

Background notes


Animal Farm

  • Czar Nicholas II
    • Tsar, Caesar, Kaiser
  • Ruler with absolute power
  • Took throne at age 26
    • Alexander III died of kidney disease at age 49
  • Somewhat inept as ruler
    • His father didn’t want to teach him statecraft until Nicholas was 30, but Alexander III died before then
czar nicholas ii
Czar Nicholas II

Czar Nicholas with his wife, Alexandra; his four daughters, Maria, Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia; and his son Alexei

royal family
Royal Family
  • Nicholas was married, 4 daughters, 1 son
    • Alexei was sickly (hemophilia)
      • Inherited
      • Rasputin
        • Mystic who exerted enormous influence over the family, especially Alexandra, because he seemed to help lessen effects of the disease
factors leading to downfall of the monarchy
Factors leading to downfall of the Monarchy
  • Widespread drought & famine
  • Refusal to agree to Constitutional Monarchy
  • Loss of war with Japan
    • Defeat by a non-Western power brought down prestige and authority of the regime
  • Anti-Semitic pogroms
  • Distrust of Rasputin’s influence
  • Bloody Sunday
  • Bread Riots
bloody sunday
Bloody Sunday
  • Peasants went to Winter palace to petition for help
    • Starving
    • Peaceful petition
  • Were gunned down
    • 92 dead, several hundred wounded
  • Resulted in Revolt of 1905
    • Revolt eventually put down, but power of monarchy was lessened
revolt of 1905
Revolt of 1905
  • Russian workers led by Trotsky
    • Tsar’s soldiers crushed the rebellion
    • Trotsky was sent to Siberia for his role
abdication of the throne
Abdication of the Throne
  • 1917: WWI caused Tsar/Czar Nicholas II to abdicate
  • Causes:
    • German triumphs, millions killed in WWI
    • Nationwide poverty, injustices by czars (Bloody Sunday), bread riots, other signs of popular hostility
    • Spontaneous revolt by workers in Feb., 1917
  • Provisional Interim Govt. : Prince Lvov
october revolution 1917
October Revolution, 1917
  • Riots:
    • Lenin’s speech: “The people need peace. The people need bread. The people need land. And they give you war, hunger, no bread…we must fight for the social revolution.”
      • After the riots, Lvov banned the Bolsheviks (who quadrupled in size), sent Lenin into hiding, and arrested Trotsky (who was now allied with Lenin)
  • Troops refuse to fight: Bolsheviks take over government buildings and the Winter Palace
october revolution cont
October Revolution, Cont.
  • Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, overthrow the provisional government
  • Take over the Winter Palace as seat of new government
end of the royal family
End of the Royal Family
  • WW I caused massive deaths on the front, and widespread starvation at home
  • Revolution of 1917 forced Nicholas II to abdicate the throne
  • Imprisoned by the revolutionaries
  • Later, Nicholas & family were executed for treason
    • Firing squad and bayonets
    • Women survived initial bullets
      • Diamonds and other jewels sewn in dresses protected them
      • Later shot in the head and stabbed with bayonets
urban legend escape of anastasia
Urban Legend – Escape of Anastasia

Later, two bodies were missing from the basement where the Romanovs were killed.

Rumors spread that the princess Anastasia had escaped.

DNA evidence proves that to be untrue – two additional Romanov bodies were found in the nearby woods.

karl marx
Karl Marx
  • Philosopher, Historian, political theorist
  • Socialism, not capitalism or feudalism
  • Wealth distributed equally
    • Capitalism only rewards a few
      • Lots of poor people
  • “From each according to ability, to each according to need”
start of communist party
Start of Communist Party
  • Group of Russians: Meeting in Minsk in March 1898, declaring themselves as a party
    • Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party: Later became the Communist party
      • Consisted of nine delegates representing four labor unions, a workers’ newspaper and the Jewish Social Democratic Bund
      • platform: overthrow of the Romanov rulers
      • results of meeting: 8 of the delegates arrested upon their return home
    • Followed doctrines/teachings of : Karl Marx – prophesied the collapse of capitalism and its empires
vladamir lenin
Vladamir Lenin
  • Lenin’s roots:
    • expelled from school for staging a protest,
      • while at home, discovered the works of Marx
    • eventually got a law degree
    • Names: Vladimir Ulyanov, also Meyer, Richter, & Jordanov
lenin the budding marxist
Lenin – The budding Marxist
  • Travels:
    • Switzerland to meet with Marxist leaders
    • Paris and Berlin to meet with radicals
    • arrested upon return home and sent to Siberia until 1900 (there during meeting in Minsk).
  • Occupation:
    • When he returned from Siberia, he began a newspaper organizing the rebirth of the Social Democrats beyond the reach of the Czar’s police.
    • Caused a second meeting of the party in Brussels in 1903
split in the communist party
Split in the Communist Party


  • After “Bolshoi” – big
    • Means majority
  • Leader: Lenin
  • Makeup: small, highly disciplined, secretive, & vanguard of working class
  • Philosophy: Government run by small dictatorial group of professional revolutionaries that would tell the proletariat (workers) what to do


  • Means minority
  • Leader: Trotsky
  • Makeup: take any and all supporters, find partners, make coalitions
  • Philosophy: Democratically run socialism
communist government
Communist Government
  • After the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, overthrow the provisional government
    • Set up a dictatorship, with secret police
      • Lenin is in charge
    • Revised economic policy – prosperity for some peasants (sold crops & paid taxes)
    • Right-hand man: Leon Trotsky
      • Military leader, led Stalin’s Red Army in many uprisings & revolutionary battles, including the defeat of the “White” army (the nobility) in the Civil War
communist government cont
Communist Government, cont.
  • Premier/Foreign Minister: Lenin/Trotsky
  • Cabinet: Lenin insisted on an all-Bolshevik cabinet
  • Constituent Assembly: Although Bolsheviks won only 25% of the popular vote, and moderate socialist groups won 62%, Lenin disbanded the Assembly after one meeting and banned all parties other than his own, which he had renamed the Communist Party.
  • Cheka: New police force, authorized to arrest and shoot immediately all members of counterrevolutionary organizations.
civil war 1917 1918
Civil War, 1917-1918
  • Civil war erupts between
    • Reds
      • (Bolsheviks)
    • Whites
      • (anti-Bolsheviks)
        • primarily displaced nobility and foreign interests
    • War ends in 1918
troubles in the u s s r
Troubles in the U.S.S.R
  • Military:
    • peace with Germany, but forced separation of Poland, Balkans and Ukraine from Russia;
    • American, Japanese, British and French troops in Russia, various anti-Bolshevik “white” armies
  • Economy: in shambles –
    • huge industrial production drops,
    • runaway inflation,
    • plummeting foreign trade,
    • peasant crops requisitioned for the cities,
    • widespread famine
death of lenin
Death of Lenin
  • Death of Lenin: several strokes from these pressures
power struggle
Power Struggle
  • Stalin
    • Better political maneuvering
  • Trotsky
    • Preferred by Lenin
    • Fought in Revolution
lenin s successor stalin
Lenin’s Successor: Stalin

Stalin (meaning steel)

  • political/military maneuvers:
    • armed robberies to replenish Bolshevik treasury,
    • alliance with two of Lenin’s top advisors, then betrayed them,
    • became basically the uncrowned Tsar of the Russians (caused Trotsky to flee)
fate of trotsky
Fate of Trotsky
  • Trotsky was exiled and later assassinated in Mexico by Stalin’s agents
    • Fate of Trotsky: befriended by a Soviet agent, then hacked to death
stalin s dictatorship
Stalin’s Dictatorship
  • Drew up new constitution,
  • Communist party the core of all public and state organizations
    • (only 10% of population in this elite group).
  • He held no party congresses and ran things by himself
drive for industrialization
Drive for Industrialization
  • Drive to become industrialized
    • economic policy: forced industrialization and collective farming causing millions of deaths
    • Series of Five-Year plans to increase economic growth
collectivized farms
Collectivized Farms
  • Forced labor to cities
  • Eliminated small farms to create large “collectivized farms”
    • Produce went to feed those building factories and to sell for the financing of those factories
    • Many farmers tried to revolt, severely punished – killed or sent to Siberia
    • Farm production drops, massive famine in Soviet Union
      • Decisions about farming made by bureaucrats
      • Farmers were paid miserably – little incentive to work
the great purge
The Great Purge
  • Arrests throughout the party and the country
    • Show trials to eliminate any opposition to Stalin
    • Labor camps or executions
    • Forced confessions
      • forced people to confess to forms of treason, corruption and sabotage, all of whom were put to death
tools of stalin
Tools of Stalin
  • The Cheka – Stalin’s secret police (KGB)
    • Coercion rather than cooperation
  • Propaganda
world war ii
World War II
  • Non-Aggression Pact
    • Stalin allied himself with Hitler until Hitler invaded Russia in 1941
      • the Russians suffer heavy losses beating back the Germans (20 million dead)
  • Join the Allies
    • fights against the Germans/Japanese
    • at the end of the war, meets with Winston Churchill & Franklin D. Roosevelt (Yalta Conference) to forge a lasting peace treaty and carve up Europe
      • Note: Makes it hard for Orwell to sell Animal Farm
yalta conference
Yalta Conference
  • February 4–11, 1945
  • wartime meeting
    • United States – President Franklin D. Roosevelt
    • Great Britain – Prime Minister Winston Churchill
    • Soviet Union – General Secretary Josef Stalin
  • Purpose -- discussing Europe’s postwar reorganization.
    • the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe.
totalitarian governments
Totalitarian Governments


Josef Stalin Francisco Franko Benito Mussolini Adolf Hitler

Totalitarianism: Government with strong central rule, that controls individuals by coercion and repression

literary techniques
Literary Techniques
  • Satire
    • A literary genre that uses irony, wit, and sometimes sarcasm to ridicule people, ideas, or practices in an effort to improve society
  • Allegory
    • A story or tale that has two levels of meaning. The first is a surface-level story, with a second, and deeper level of meaning, which may be moral, political, philosophical, or religious.
      • Characters often bear names that indicate the qualities or ideas the author wishes to represent.
  • Personification
    • Giving human characteristics to non-humans
literary terms
Literary Terms
  • Utopia
    • An ideal place that does not exist in reality
    • Term comes from Greek words
      • Outopia = “no place”
      • Eutopia = “good place”
  • Dystopia
    • The opposite of utopia
    • Horrific places, generally characterized by oppressive societies
      • Often shown as starting out as attempts to achieve utopia
final thoughts
Final Thoughts
  • Orwell replied that though Animal Farm was ‘primarily a satire on the Russian Revolution’ it was intended to have a wider application. That kind of revolution, which he defined as ‘violent conspiratorial revolution, led by unconsciously power-hungry people’, could only lead to a change of masters.