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Russia 1905-1941 Introduction to Russia At the beginning of the century Russia was difficult to rule for many reasons. 1.) Poor Communications - Russia was too big to effectively send messages across yet, you couldn't send messages by road either as most roads hadn't been paved making it difficult to pass across. Many rivers were impassable and the Trans Siberian Railway took over a week to go from Moscow to Vladivostok 2.) Diverse languages - many Russians spoke French or other languages rather than Russian, as most were not Russian and didn't consider themselves to be, they considered themselves to be Georgians or Kazaks, not Russian. People also resented what was called Russification, this was the process of making people speak Russian, wear Russian clothes and obey the Russian Tzar. 3.) Sparse Population - Much of Russia was uninhabitable due to the Tundra in the North, most of Northern Russia is within the Arctic circle and so becomes desolate. 4.) Illiteracy - much of Russia was illiterate and those who could speak and write Russian preferred French anyway. 5.) Size - Russia spanned over two continents when Moscow was eating breakfast, it was an evening meal in Vladivostok. The Peasants Conditions for the peasants were very poor, many peasants used to be serfs, they were owned by the lords and would work on the lords land, when it was changed most of the land was given to the lords and it was the best land. At the time there was also a great population growth whereby the population increased by 50%, between 1860 and 1897.All of this inequality led to a revolution against the Tzar (Czar) in 1905. The Urban Workers The urban workers worked in place such as St. Petersburg and Moscow. The workers were treated unfairly, paid terrible wages, and forced to work long and hard. Their houses were small flats and from these they were expected to raise families.
They headed back to European Russia furious at the Tzar and Stolypin. The Dumas that were supposed to aid the country just bowed down to the Tsars wishes. When a third Duma came to power in 1906, they revolted against the Tzar, he disbanded them and began working on a fourth Duma. Stolypin decided that the fourth Duma should have more nobles to stop the revolts, but even the nobles revolted. Stolypin then enforced military rule by setting up militia courts whereby people could be executed on the spot. This became known as Stolypins' noose. The freedom of speech noted in the October manifesto didn't exist. Political newspapers were banned and anything found to be against the Tzar was considered to be treason even political jokes. However some things did get better in Russia, between 1906 and 1914 there was an industrial boom in Russia thanks to the Duma. They rose to become an economic superpower with the 4th largest steel, coal, oil and pig iron in the world. This led to jobs becoming available to the peasants. World War One However not enough good things happened in the same ratio as to bad. In 1917 there was another revolution. This was not helped by Russia entering the war in 1914 and loosing early lowering morale even more and showing the Tzar to be useless. Another problem with WWI on the Russian front was that only 1 in 3 men had rifles the rest waited for someone else to die before they got a rifle. Also all of the Strong people were fighting the war meaning only weak people could farm, the same applied to industry, not enough could be made to support Russia. The Russians fell bankrupt, as the bank had not got its money back. The Russians had to borrow 90% of it's war funding. Conditions also went down, people were expected to work longer, harder and for a smaller wage. The price of goods increased as well to make matters worse.
Lenin renamed the Bolshevik party the Communists at this point and renamed Russia, the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). Within the Parliament the Social Revolutionaries won a majority of seats and so Lenin closed down the assembly after only one day. Communism or Dictatorship ? In 1917 Lenin wanted to create a Communist state whereby he had as much and more power than the Tzar did. In 1917 Lenin set up the Cheka, his secret police, the earlier equivalent of the KGB. The Tzar had his own secret police called the Okrana, most Cheka members where ex-Okrana. They would spy and assassinate anyone they believed to be an anti-Communist, most of the time without trial. In 1918 Lenin was almost assassinated, this triggered the Red Terror campaign where over 500,000 men were found to be anti-Communist and were killed. Lenin also banned all other political parties, it was kept this way until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The media was also state controlled, only Bolshevik newspaper could be sold. Peace with Germany Lenin had to end the war at any cost, he feared it would be the war that would overthrow him just as the Provisional government had been. He knew he couldn't fight his enemies in Russia and elsewhere, so on March 3rd 1918, Trotsky travelled to Brest-Litovsk to sign a peace treaty with the Germans. These terms were very harsh, Russia lost over one-sixth of it's overall population and three-quarters of it's overall coal, oil and steel areas to the Germans. The Communists had paid a high price but they had ended the war However the areas to the north that Russia had lost became independent states and the Ukraine corn growing area was taken by the League of Nations when Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, and given to Poland. Another problem with his treaty was that afterwards the Russians were seen as traitors as they "gave into" German demands. This led to them being banned from the League of Nations in 1919 as well as Germany.
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