Russian Revolution: Critical Period Study Notes


Soldiers in a line formation during the Russian Civil WarBelow are a collection of notes to aid in the study of the "Critical Period" of the Russian Revolution which effectively took hold in October 1917. Please note, however, that they should not be used as a replacement for your own studies of the topic. Rather, they should be used to help consolidate your own notes, and/or as a quick revision tool before tests or exams. They are not intended to be complete or comprehensive, and instead are what I personally found to be significant in my own studies of the topic, either in preperation for tests/exams or the writing of essays. In addition to this, they may contain notes outside of the period of study, in order to to fulfill the "Cause and Effect" requirement of many History curriculums.

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1. Significant Events
2. Significant People

1. Significant Events

October 1917 – Bolsheviks take control of Winter Palace, allowing Lenin and party to lead Russia.
November 1917 – Nationwide elections held for constituent assembly; however Bolsheviks did not gain majority support so the assembly was dissolved in January 1918.
December 1917 – Bolsheviks introduced the Cheka, the secret police, to deal with opposition.
March 1918 – Russia and Germany sign the Brest-Litovsk treaty, which resulted in great territorial losses in return for Peace (exit out of WW1). This allowed the Bolsheviks to focus on crushing internal rebellions.
May 1918 – Bolsheviks introduce military conscription, party renamed to Communist Party.
June-July 1918 – Civil War begins, in which Lenin’s opponents organized from many directions and eventually became united and fought together as the Whites. Internal threats included the Mensheviks, and foreign intervention by Great Britain, France and USA. They hoped to crush the “temporary madness” of the Bolsheviks and bring Russia back into the war.
            War Communism introduced, designed to help defeat the Whites.
                        The nationalisation of land and industry, direction of labour and abolition of private trade was included.
                               Entailed the violent seizure of food from the peasantry, leading to an extreme drop in productivity that plunged the nation into famine in 1921. Over 5 million died in the famine, and lead to an uprising by sailors in March which forced Lenin to announce the New Economic Policy.
                                      The N.E.P. constituted a retreat from socialism: it maintained state control of the major industries, but allowed for farmers and small-scale manufacturers to trade freely, restoring some measure of prosperity to the countryside.
July 1918 – Nicholas II and his entire family is murdered.
September 1918 –
“Red Terror” began, after an assassination attempt on Lenin’s life.
                                            This was a brutal crackdown on anyone opposing the Bolsheviks, in which thousands were massacred. Thousands more also died for being in the wrong class; for being “kulaks” or wealthy peasants.
March 1921 – By this time Bolsheviks had beaten the white army, however Poland continued to fight. This lead to the Treaty of Riga, resulting in even more territorial losses. However, Lenin knew that he had to end all war or a counter revolution would occur.
                                 This peace treaty lead to Consolidation.
Propoganda – all newspapers and media controlled by the Bolsheviks.
                                 anti-capitalistic, anti-west.

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2. Significant People

Vladimir Lenin - Leader of Russia after the October Revolution; suppressed dissent by disbanding Constituent Assembly, declaring opposing political parties illegal
Felix Dzerzhinsky -  Polish revolutionary whom Lenin appointed head of Cheka secret police
Alexander Kerensky -  Prime minister of provisional government; fled Russia during revolution to live in Europe and then the United States
Trotsky - Who Lenin appointed "People's Commissar for War" in March 1918, and who essentially created the Red Army out of the skeleton of the old imperial forces.
Stalin – Would become leader of Russia after Lenin, a good friend, died in 1924.

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