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October 1917

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					  October 1917
The Bolshevik Takeover
 The Provisional Government
• February 1917, The Respectable Revolution
  – Mainly Liberals and Conservatives
     • Some Socialists
         – Kerensky
  – International Support
     • Britain and France don’t mind change of government
         – AS LONG AS THEY CONTINUE TO WAGE WAR!
  – Eases path of USA into World War.
  – Tried to undo injustices of the past
     • Frees all political prisoners
         – Including many Bolsheviks!
             » Stalin
          Missed the Boat
• Bolsheviks had been caught by surprise
  by February Revolution
• Lenin in Switzerland
  – He needs to return
    • How does he do it?
The Sealed Train?
  • By train through Germany
    to Sweden
  • He must avoid being
    tainted with collaborating
    with the Germans!
  • They transported Lenin in
    a Sealed Train like a
    plague bacillus from
    Switzerland to Russia.
    —WINSTON
    CHURCHILL, World
    Crisis
  • Not as sealed as he
    claimed!
     – Accepted money from
       Germans in Sweden
 Lenin Shakes things up!
• Arrives in Petrograd, April 1917
  – Immediately attacks Bolsheviks for their
    timidity (includes Stalin!)
     • Questions why they have not planned to
       overthrow the provisional government
     • Why were the Bolsheviks working with other
       Socialists and Revolutionaries
       ―Parliamentary-Bourgeois Republic‖
  – Issues ―April Theses‖
                  April Theses
1. Will stop Capitalist War
    1. Only Revolutionary War permissible
2. February events were just a coup
    1. Not a Revolution - A stepping stone to the Proletariat Revolution
3. No support for the Provisional Government whatsoever
4. Work through the Soviets
    1. ―All power to the Soviets‖
5. Will smash all existing institutions
    1. Army, Police and bureaucracy
6. Land Reform
    1. Nationalisation - Give to Peasants and workers
7. Close all banks –
    1. One national bank
8. Change name
    1. From Social Democrats to Communist Party
    The Provisional Government
           Staggers On
• Dyarchy fatally weakening government
  – Soviet countermanding Duma’s laws
     • Eg soldiers do not have to obey officer’s orders
         – Just those of soldier’s councils
• Government shifts leftward to try and gain
  some support of Soviets
  – Kerensky appointed War Minister
Kerensky’s June Offensive
• Honours pledge to Allies
• Low morale of troops
   – Bolshevik agitation
      • Promising to end war
   – Democratic nature of new army
      • Did not have to obey orders you did not agree with
• Germans easily repulse
   – Widespread Mutinies
      • Kronstadt Naval Base set up own government
• Lvov government falls
   – Kerensky PM
   – Kornilov new CinC of Army
     Kerensky’s Unpalatable Options
     • Page 47 of Red book
         – Summarise problems facing Kerensky in
           1917 then complete table below:
 Course of Action     Mark out of 10   How this might   Risks or Problems
                                            help            involved

      Negotiate
  immediate peace
treaty with Germany
 Find a General to
  restore law and
       order
    Suppress
    Bolsheviks

 Hold elections to
   Constituent
    Assembly
                    July Days
• Bolsheviks take advantage of poor condition of
  Army (and Russia)
   – At Lenin’s Insistence
• July 3rd to 6th
   – Bolsheviks claiming to come to aid of Kronstadt
     Mutineers
   – Attempt a Coup
   – Provisional Troops rushed back from Front
      • Crush Bolsheviks easily
   – Bolsheviks blame Mensheviks and SRs for starting it
• Soviet and Provisional Government Censure
  Bolsheviks
   – Lenin runs to Finland
   – Soviet and Kerensky do not fully punish Bolsheviks
Is the Threat from the Left or Right?
  • Kerensky (and most revolutionaries)
    were experts in the French Revolution
    – What happened to that Revolution?
 Is the Threat from the Left or Right?
• Kerensky (and most revolutionaries) were experts in the French
  Revolution
   – What happened to that Revolution?
       • The Counter Revolution
           – Napoleon hijacked the revolution
• The Soviet was more forgiving of coups from the Left than from the
  Right
   – They thought that the Bolsheviks were wild and enthusiastic but they
     meant to preserve the socialist revolution
   – However the Soviet was hostile to any right wing counterrevolution
• Most liberals in Provisional Government happy to try and rule
  alone
• Some Conservatives already becoming disillusioned and wanted
  to return to the sureties of the Monarchy
• However in late August/September an event happens that forces
  Kerensky to choose between the left and right
      The Kornilov Affair
•   What was it?
•   Why was it important?
•   Who was involved?
•   What were the consequences?

• Pages 53 - 54
Kerensky relies on the Left
• Kerensky’s decision to rely on the
  Soviet rather than the Russian Army
  will have profound effects in October
  – Why?
• The down and out Bolsheviks
  recovered from their disastrous July
  Days episode
  – They were back in the game
    The Bolsheviks are Back
• Time becomes their enemy
  – Why?
 The Bolsheviks are Back
• Time becomes their enemy
  – They do not want elections to Constituent
    Assembly (scheduled for Nov 12th)
  – They do not want world war one to end
  – They were popular
  – The Provisional Government had lost the trust of
    the army
• They prepare for a Coup D’etat
  – At Lenin’s insistence
     • Kamenev and Zinoviev against
     • Trotsky and Stalin were non-committal
Kerensky’s Authority ebbs away
 • Kerensky heard rumours that
   Bolsheviks were going to seize power
   – He sent away the least reliable troops
     from Petrograd
     • To try and prevent another February situation
     • However, many thought he was abandoning
       the capital to the Germans!
   Trotsky takes the Initiative
• Bolsheviks set up a Military Revolution
  Committee (Milrevkom) to defend Petrograd
  – From internal and external threats!
  – Germans are closing in on capital
• They ask permission of the Soviet (not of the
  Provisional Government)
  – Permission granted
     • Bolsheviks had recently proved that they were willing to
       defend the revolution from Kornilov
• Why did the Bolsheviks volunteer for this
  onerous duty?
Trotsky takes the Initiative
• He arranges for the Second Congress
  of Soviets for the end of October
  – However, he only invites delegations
    from Bolshevik dominated Soviets
• Lenin liked this idea
  – Why?
Trotsky takes the Initiative
• He arranges for the Second Congress
  of Soviets for the end of October (25th)
  – However, he only invites delegations
    from Bolshevik dominated Soviets
• Lenin liked this idea
  – It would allow them to legitimise the coup
     • If it was successful
Kerensky accidentally starts the
     Bolshevik Revolution
 • Worried about his position he orders:
   – The closure of Bolshevik Newspapers
   – The raising of the bridges linking the
     central district to the working class areas
Kerensky accidentally starts the
     Bolshevik Revolution
 • Worried about his position he orders:
   – The closure of Bolshevik Newspapers
   – The raising of the bridges linking the
     central district to the working class areas
      • This gives the Bolsheviks the excuse that
        Kerensky was starting a coup against the
        Soviet
         – Trotsky’s plan falls into place during the night of
           October 24th/25th
       A Classic Coup
• The Milrevkom activates to save the
  revolution (from Kerensky)
  – They seize all the bridges, telephone
    exchange, railway stations and power
    stations
    • Peacefully
       – Sometimes they just relieve the government
         forces as if changing the guard
• Next morning seems to be a normal
  work day
  – Trams running, shops open etc…
              A Classic Coup
• Kerensky appeals for help from the army
  – Army ignores requests by radio
  – He escapes Petrograd in a US embassy car.
  – He drives to Pskov to try and get army support
     • Irony of ironies the only unit in range of Petrograd was
       Kornilov’s old unit.
         – They tell Kerensky to get stuffed

• Eventually he convinces General Krasnov to
  advance towards Petrograd
  – Too little, too late
  – Troop morale was undermined by Bolshevik
    agitators
     The Winter Palace
• The remaining Provisional
  government members were holed up
  in the Winter Palace
  – With a functioning telephone line
    • Bolsheviks had not realised that they used a
      different exchange
• It was not stormed
  – Famous Bolshevik Propaganda film
    • Eisenstein
                 Winter Palace
• Guarded by a small collection of Cossacks, Cadets
  (Junkers) and the woman’s battalion
• The Red army was repulsed 3 times
   – Usually after just a few shots fired
   – Some Red guards were captured by defenders
• Duma members realised that help was not on its way
   – The telephone line
• Battleship Aurora Fires
   – Blanks
• Cossacks drifted away
• Eventually the Duma members requested their own
  soldiers to lay down their arms.
   – 2am 26th October
• The Bolsheviks had seized control of Petrograd
  Second Congress of Soviets
• Conveniently in session from October 25th
• Trotsky had made sure that there was significant
  Bolshevik presence
• Some dissent from SRs, Mensheviks etc..,
   – i.e. they would cause a counterrevolutionary backlash
   – Or that they did not represent the working and peasant classes
• SRs and Mensheviks stormed out
• Remaining Bolsheviks and Left SRs voted the
  following:
   – The formation of a Bolshevik Government (Sovnarkom)
   – Immediate moves to end the war
   – Transferring all land to the Peasants
• They could claim that they were taking power on behalf
  of the Soviets!
 Why were the Bolsheviks
successful in October 1917?
• Weaknesses of   • Strengths of
  Provisional       Bolsheviks
  Government        – Page 66
  – Page 65




              .
 Why were the Bolsheviks
successful in October 1917?
• Weaknesses of            • Strengths of
  Provisional                Bolsheviks
  Government                   – Page 66
  – Page 65

 Essay Title:
    It was the weakness of the Provisional
 Government that brought the October Revolution
                 .
 about rather than the strengths of the Bolsheviks