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Who Took Control After the February Revolution? - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Who Took Control After the February Revolution?. Overview. Nicholas II’s downfall had been swift Most argue that the February Revolution was spontaneous with minimal involvement from revolutionary leaders (e.g. W.H Chamberlain)

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  • Nicholas II’s downfall had been swift

  • Most argue that the February Revolution was spontaneous with minimal involvement from revolutionary leaders (e.g. W.H Chamberlain)

  • A Provisional Government was formed by the Liberals until a Constituent Assembly could be voted for

  • The Provisional Govt. had little power in Petrograd


  • The power lay with the Petrograd Soviet as it controlled the armed forces, industries and services in the capital

  • The Provisional Govt. was initially popular, announcing elections and civil rights for the Russian people

  • Soviets were the most important bodies of government at local levels (like councils)

  • Things did not immediately improve for most Russians – the war continued and food/fuel still in short supply


  • News of bread rationing led to riots

  • International Women’s Day march (23 February) led to demonstrations and strikes

  • Revolutionary parties were still in exile

  • Soldiers did not want to fire on their own people anymore

  • When Nicholas II ordered troops to fire on 26 February some mutinied

  • Criminals were freed from jails


  • There were 10 full days of popular demonstrations

  • Substantial military involvement

  • The Bolsheviks had already planned a big demonstration for May Day

  • The Duma had suggested they should gain more powers through the War - some stayed in the Tauride Palace even after the Tsar suspended them

A bolshevik revolution
A Bolshevik Revolution?

  • Socialist cells from the Bolsheviks gave out red flags and banners

  • Many of the workers involved were educated in Lenin’s doctrines – Trotsky argued the worker would not have revolted had they not come into contact with Lenin’s ideas

  • The Bolsheviks planned demonstrations for May Day

  • BUT the women ignored the views of the Bolsheviks to keep up momentum of protest

The role of the army
The Role of the Army

  • Hugely important in the February Revolution

  • Previously disturbances had been quashed by the military and groups such as the Cossacks remained loyal to the Tsar

  • In February 1917 most protests were allowed to continue

  • On 26 February the Tsar orders troops to fire on crowds: some do, most do not

  • When the military told Nicholas II they would not march on Petrograd he abdicated (3 March)

Reasons for success
Reasons for Success

  • Shock factor: the establishment had not expected such large scale demonstrations

  • Determination of ‘normal’ people – the sheer number of people involved was impressive

  • Mutiny of the army – refusal to obey orders of the Tsar mean he could not rule. His abdication was then inevitable

  • Growth of the trade unions had encouraged workers to believe they deserved better

  • Political parties had been forming so there was already an alternative to the Tsar

  • Duma already existed

The provisional government
The Provisional Government

  • Dominated by the Liberal Kadets: Milukov was Foreign Minister; Kerensky was Minister of Justice; Prince Lvov was Prime Minister

  • Members were chosen by a committee of the Duma

  • Ran the country via communications with the Soviet until an election could be organised

The petrograd soviet
The Petrograd Soviet

  • Members consisted of working class, soldiers, Mensheviks, SR groups

  • First chairman was Chkheidze – Kerensky initially acted as a go-between

  • Socialist intellectuals formed the leadership but it was run by an executive committee

  • Controlled the railways, soldiers in the Petrograd garrison, factories, power supplies and telegraph station

Why did the soviet not seize control
Why did the Soviet not seize control?

  • Members lacked political experience

  • If they made errors the masses would blame the socialists

  • Mensheviks believed in Marx’s ideology that there had to be a Bourgoise revolution before a socialist one

  • Now should be the time to concentrate on getting a fair deal for workers and to educate the proletariat

  • It was happy to act like a watch dog over the Provisional Government

The honeymoon period
The Honeymoon Period

  • Workers received better conditions such as an 8 hour working day

  • Provisional government promised there would be free elections and universal suffrage

  • Civil rights such as freedom of speech, religion and press were introduced

  • Political and religious prisoners were released

  • Death penalty was outlawed and Okhrana banned

  • Tsarist ministers and officials were imprisoned

Outside petrograd
Outside Petrograd

  • Provisional Government dismissed Tsarist governors and replaced them with commissars

  • As news of the revolution spread to the countryside peasants started up committees

  • Prince Lvov encouraged localities to run their own affairs (de-centralisation)

  • In other towns and districts soviets were set up to represent workers’ interests.

Was the provisional government doomed
Was the Provisional Government doomed?

  • In the summer of 1917 Lenin described Russia as the freest country in the world, but…

  • Did the Provisional Government give away too many concessions too soon?

  • Should the Provisional Government have ended the War?

  • Should the powers of the Soviets been curbed?

  • Should a Constituent Assembly have been elected sooner?