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Russia in the 19th Century. Russian society remained semi-feudal and backward, with much popular discontent. Russia remained isolated from Western culture and did not modernize. Oppression & censorship increased and the government was inefficient. Czars were anti-liberal

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Russia in the 19th Century


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    1. Russia in the 19th Century • Russian society remained semi-feudal and backward, with much popular discontent. • Russia remained isolated from Western culture and did not modernize. • Oppression & censorship increased and the government was inefficient. • Czars were anti-liberal • Russia was weak internationally & began to lose foreign wars (Crimean, Russo-Japanese)

    2. Russia: Decembrist Uprising (1825) Alexander I (1810-1825) initially favored Enlightened despotism but after 1815 grew increasingly reactionary. His death led to a power vacuum. Nicholas I assumed the Russian throne after death of Alexander I. Decembrists (junior military officers): upper-class opponents of the autocratic Russian system of gov’t, who supported popular grievances among Russian society. Failed in their revolt. Nicholas became Europe’s most reactionary monarch Intellectuals developed two opposing camps in this period: • Slavolphiles believed that Russian village (the mir) culture was superior to that of the West. • Westernizers wanted to extend the “genius of Russian culture” by industrializing and setting up a constitutional gov’t.

    3. Nicholas I (1825-55) • Dictatorial ruler who stood for strong nationalism, autocracy, and religious orthodoxy. • He did the following: • Expanded the royal bureaucracy • Published a new legal code • Fostered industry and Railroads • Enforced strict censorship with secret police • Had strong control over the military • Lost the Crimean War • Put down a Polish revolt

    4. Alexander II (1855-81) • A conservative reformer, who abolished serfdom in 1861. • Zemstvo Laws: created local assemblies to solve local problems in 1864. • As reform led to radical demands, many groups began to plot and carry out terrorist acts. • 1881: Alexander was assassinated. • 1881-1894: Alexander III a determined reactionary!

    5. Nicholas II (1894-1917) • Industrial progress occurred during his reign, but urban & rural conditions remained miserable and the population was on the verge of revolution. • Serge Witte (1892-1903) great finance minister who thrust Russia towards industrialization • 1905: Russia lost the Russo-Japanese war. • 1905: Revolution occurred which included the Bloody Sunday massacre. • The czar was forced to accept the October Manifesto which created the Duma (pop-elected parliament w/ legislative power).

    6. Nicholas, continued • Nicholas failed to uphold his promises made in the Oct. Manifesto and instead promoted more conservative policies under his chief agricultural advisor, Stolypin. • Stolypin was assassinated by rebels

    7. Problems in Russia • Although the czar had not followed through on his promises made after the Revolution of 1905, dissatisfied parties in Russia tried to cooperate with the gov’t in the defense of Russia in 1914. • After the armies began to lose, the czar fired competent generals and replaced them himself, at the front. • opposition grew more discontented, as a result.

    8. More Russian Problems • As war losses mounted, food shortages at home led to rioting in Russian cities. • On the front, Russian soldiers were finally limited to 2 bullets per day, and many mutinied. • Rasputin’s influence on Czarina Alexandra further alienated the public, and soon, revolution was nearly inevitable.

    9. The Revolution of (February) March, 1917 • The March revolution began with a general strike in St. Petersburg (Petrograd, Leningrad). • The strike was followed by a mutiny among the troops and the dissolving of the Duma. • The new gov’t that took over was known as the Provisional Gov’t & it was run by Kerensky and Prince Lvov.

    10. The Provisional Government • On March 17, 1917, Czar Nicholas abdicated. Shortly afterward, the royal family was arrested. • They were eventually executed by the Bolsheviks. • The new gov’t declared full civil liberties for all Russians, freed Poland and Finland, and called for a constituent assembly to pass needed reforms.

    11. Problems for the New Gov’t • Russians wanted to get out of WWI, because they were losing so badly, and because supplies were so short on the homefront. • Hunger was a problem all over Russia. • Most Russians wanted land reform. • The Prov. Gov’t did nothing to help the distressed population.

    12. Provisional government • Replaced the tsar • Primarily constitutional democrats and moderate socialists

    13. The Soviets • Soviets were small workers’ councils which had been established following the revolution of 1905. • Soviets in Revolution were more radical, consisted of workers, soldiers and sailors. • The Petrograd Soviet was under the control of Trotsky and was the most radical group calling for further action. Like Paris Commune in Fr. Rev. • The Soviets called for an immediate end to the war, for peace with Germany, and for the seizure of land by the peasants & workers.

    14. Lenin • Lenin had been active in the Social Democratic Party (Marxists) since its inception in Russia. • 1902: He wrote “What is to be done?” in which he laid out his plans for revolution. Lenin’s goal to “Russify” Marx. • The same year, he took control of the more radical wing of the party, the Bolsheviks.

    15. The Road to Revolution • April 16, 1917: Germany ships Lenin back to Russia from his exile in Switzerland in a sealed rail car. • Germany did this, believing that Lenin would sue for peace after leading the revolution in Russia. • Lenin’s motto: “Peace, Land, & Bread.” • This was exactly what the people wanted to hear.

    16. The Road to Revolution • Lenin called for the resignation of the provisional government and the transfer of power to the soviets, but this demand was premature. • July, 1917: The provisional gov’t armed the Bolsheviks so they could help the gov’t fight off a military coup (The Kornilov Affair). • These arms were later turned on the gov’t.

    17. The October Revolution • Nov. 6, 1917: Led by Lenin & Trotsky, Bolshevik leaders, soldiers, and workers quickly took over Petrograd, stormed the winter palace, & arrested the remaining members of the provisional government. • Alexander Kerensky escaped and lived in exile.

    18. The Revolution Continues • Nov. 7, 1917: Lenin declares the revolution a success and renames the country the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. • Lenin = head of state • Trotsky = foreign minister & head of the Red army • Stalin = commissar for national minorities

    19. Soviet Russia: 1917-1928 • Between 1917 and 1928, the new Bolshevik government established Soviet power in Russia and enacted Soviet policies. • There are three major themes of this period in Soviet history: • Military & internal problems • Development of economic policies • Power struggle between Stalin & Trotsky

    20. Internal Problems Begin • The Bolsheviks expected worldwide revolution to follow their successful revolution in Russia and so they immediately began to prepare. • In preparation, the Soviets nationalized and communized sugar, petroleum, and textile production and all mining, and by 1920, all industries employing more than 10 people were state-owned. • The gov’t requisitioned all farm produce, and only gov’t officials could buy & sell goods.

    21. Military & Internal Problems • March 3, 1918: Treaty of Brest-Litovsk took Russia out of the war and ceded large amounts of territory to Germany. • Russia gave up most of the area in the vicinity of the Ukraine and lost about 1/3 of its population. • Civil War was raging between the Reds (Bolsheviks) and the Whites (everyone who opposed the Reds). • By 1921, the Reds won the civil war. • ’22: Red Terror: eliminate “class enemies.” Cheka (forerunner of KGB) leaders of this. Killed bourgeoisies, gentry, white army

    22. Economic Problems • Though the Whites were put down, the Soviet internal situation remained critical in 1921, with the economy being below pre-war levels. • The anarchists and peasants began to revolt in the countryside in an attempt to do something about the starvation & suffering of the masses.

    23. The New Economic Policy (NEP) • This was Lenin’s stop-gap measure to retain control and provide temporary relief. • Under the NEP, peasants were allowed to keep part of their produce, which they were allowed to sell for cash profit on newly-recreated local markets. • The gov’t kept control of heavy industry & internat’l trade, but light manufacturing and internal trade was returned to private hands.

    24. NEP, continued • The Kulaks (large peasant farmers) and other entrepreneurs made large profits by taking advantage of this liberalization. • As a result, some Bolsheviks, such as Trotsky, wanted to kill them • Some other people wanted to extend the NEP to include even more private business • Lenin believed both groups were wrong, and that the NEP was necessary until a full communist society could be realized in the future.

    25. The Power Struggle: Stalin vs. Trotsky • Lenin had a series of strokes between 1922 & 1924. He finally died in 1924. • Trotsky & Stalin both wanted to be Lenin’s successor. • Trotsky was a theorist who had organized the red army and the Petrograd Soviet. • Stalin was an activist who had been instrumental in forcing the minority republics to unite into the USSR. He also had control of the machinery of gov’t.

    26. Stalin vs. Trotsky • Trotsky wanted to promote world revolution ASAP, while Stalin was willing to wait & instead concentrate on rebuilding the USSR, 1st. • When Trotsky publicly criticized Stalin’s foreign policy in 1927, Stalin had him exiled to Siberia. • Trotsky eventually escaped to the west & was assassinated by Stalin’s men in 1941.

    27. Lenin’s Testament • In his will, Lenin stated that Stalin was too power-hungry and too brutal and uncouth to become his successor. • Lenin believed Trotsky should be the next head of the USSR. • Stalin, however, gained full control of the USSR, after the exile of Trotsky.

    28. Long term Causes of RR (1861-1905) • 2 perennial, irresolvable problems: • Technological and economic backwardness • Inability to form a government that successfully harnessed the will of its people. • RR is a drastic solution to these problems • After Alexander II’s reforms– Russia seems to be moving in right direction