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THE BOLSHEVIKS SEIZE CONTROL - OCTOBER 1917 Was it inevitable? AIMS To understand how the Bolsheviks came to power. To look at different historical interpretations of the Bolshevik takeover. To assess the inevitability of the takeover. THE JULY DAYS Uncontrolled rioting at the start of July. Encouraged by some Bolsheviks. An attempt to take control? Troops loyal to Soviet regained control. Several leading Bolsheviks arrested. Lenin forced to flee to Finland. Bolsheviks were denounced and lost support. Could they recover? THE KORNILOV AFFAIR, AUGUST Kerensky made Kornilov army leader. Kornilov’s troops marched on Petrograd to restore order. Kerensky panicked – counter-revolution? He asked Soviet to defend Petrograd. SIGNIFICANCE Kerensky’s reputation damaged. Kerensky-supporting Socialists unpopular. Liberals & Middle-Classes mistrusted. Officers felt let down by Kerensky. Bolsheviks seen as defenders of the city. Gained support and a majority on the Soviet (9 September) WHAT NOW? Lenin urged Bolsheviks to take power. Some were for, others against (eg Kamanev & Zinoviev) Trotsky advised waiting until Second Congress of All-Russian Soviets so they could claim popular support. Timing was but an issue – it was an open secret that they would try to seize power. KERENSKY’S LAST MISTAKE? He sent radical army units from Petrograd. Rumours he may abandon city to Germans. Military Revolutionary Committee set up by Soviet – dominated by Bolsheviks. Kerensky tried to shut Bolshevik papers and limit the power of MRC. Bolsheviks claimed he acted against Soviet. With no support left, Kerensky fled. THE SEIZURE OF POWER 24 Oct: Red Army seized key points in city. 25 Oct: Red Army arrested Provisional Government members in Winter Palace. 25 Oct: All-Russian Congress of Soviets denounced Bolshevik takeover. Main Socialists left Soviet… leaving a Bolshevik majority. The Bolsheviks were in power. DIFFERENT VIEWS 1. Soviet view – popular uprising, guided by Lenin & Bolsheviks. 2. Western view – Lenin organised a coup, little mass support, disaster for Russia. 3. Revisionist view – Lenin not in total control, partly directed from below. 4. Recent view – resembles a coup, but some popular support, role of Lenin crucial. BOLSHEVIK POPULARITY? Hard to prove either way. Voting figures (Constituency Assembly in November) Membership figures. Attitudes of workers & soldiers – more radical & politicised. More disturbances in the countryside. These people supported some Bolshevik policies, but Bolshevik one-party rule…? TASK Read sources 4.5 -4.10 on pp. 60-61. Plot each on the following line. Popular Coup Revolution Was the Bolshevik takeover inevitable?
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