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Assess the importance of World War One for Russia and the Russian peoples

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David Norton 5th Year History Coursework Russia 1905 - 1941 Assess the importance of World War One for Russia and the Russian peoples In 1900 Russia was ruled by Tsar Nicholas II who was an autocrat. Nicholas had advisors but they had no power, they merely advised him. 125 million people lived in his empire and four out of five of these people were poor peasant farmers living on the five per cent of land in Russia that was good for farming. Life for these peasants was very hard and they set up opposition groups against the Tsar. In 1903 a group called the Social Democratic Party split into two groups, the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. The leader of the Bolsheviks was Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and his party believed a revolution should be run by a small group of professionals using conspiracy and secrecy. The leader of the Mensheviks was Julius Martov and his party believed it should be run democratically with as many working class members as possible. ...read more.


Lenin, who was exiled in Switzerland, told Russia to pull out of the war and so Germany sent him back to Russia. When Lenin came back to Russia he became more active in the revolution and he used the mottos "Peace, bread and land" and "All power to the Soviets" to encourage people to revolt. Kerensky became minister of war in the Provisional Government and he too thought Russia could still win the war but Lenin argued. Kerensky then ordered the soldiers of the Provisional Government to open fire on the Bolsheviks. Kerensky soon became head of the Provisional Government and still had the support of the Mensheviks. In July 1917 Lenin was found guilty of treason and fled to Finland. In 1917 the last major Russian offensive failed in the war and discredited the Provisional Government and the Tsar's government even further. General Kornilov was then appointed Commander in Chief of the armies and he still thought that the military could take control of Russia and win the war. ...read more.


On 3rd December 1917 a peace conference between Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary was held at Brest-Litovsk, a town on the border with Germany. Trotsky was Russia's Foreign Affairs minister and he drew out the talks for nine weeks hoping for a social revolution in Germany because Russia had a socialist government and he thought this would bring the countries closer. No revolution occurred and Lenin knew he had to make peace as Germany had advanced very close to Petrograd. In March 1918 the treaty of Brest-Litovsk was made in which Russia lost all its western lands (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, The Ukraine and Georgia) and thus lost sixty-two million people (twenty-six per cent of the population), twenty-seven per cent of its farm land, twenty-six per cent of its railways and seventy four per cent of its iron ore and coal. Also there was a fine of 300 millions roubles to be paid to Germany. This was a very harsh treaty and Russia paid a great price for peace but it was Russia's only option if they did not want to be taken over by Germany. ...read more.

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