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How far were things improving in Russia before the First World War?

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Introduction

´╗┐How far were things improving in Russia before the First World War? Russia had ruled been by the infamous Romanov dynasty, since 1613. During that time Romanovs became Tsars and absolute rulers over the whole of Russia, making Russia an autocratic state. The last Tsar was Nicholas II, who ruled from 1894 to1917 and it was during his reign, Russia witnessed major economical, political and social upheaval that changed and improved the Russian empire in certain ways but also brought great repercussions with it. In the 19th century and early 20th century, Russia was going through an industrial boom. As more and more advanced technology became available to Russia?s industry, more and more resources could be tapped into. The demand of essential economic resources, especially pig iron, steel, coal and oil grew rapidly as Russia became involved in wars, such as the Russo-Japanese war. The production of pig iron went from virtually nothing in the 1800s to at least 5 million tonnes being produced in 1913. Although Russia was greatly behind other countries in industry, tsar Nicholas II was reported to have been enthusiastic about increasing Russia?s economic production and put a lot of effort into it. The production of oil remained relatively the same from 1890 to 1913, however the production of coal increased by a staggering 400%, from roughly 10 million tonnes being produced in 1890 to around 40 million tonnes in 1913. ...read more.

Middle

Poverty was the dominating problem that peasants continually faced throughout Russia. Indeed famine and starvation were common in Russia and the life expectancy of farmers in some regions was only 40 years old. Most of Russia?s land was very infertile, and the few amounts of very rich and fertile lands were mainly owned by the aristocracy. By the early 1900s land for peasants was in very short supply. This was partly due to the huge population increase of 50% from 1860 to 1897 where peasants had to divide more and more of the already small amounts of land they worked on to give them to their sons and daughters. This population increase was considered to be an inevitable indication of major food shortages and death in the future of Russia because it was a strong sign of Russia?s peasant population being caught in a dark ?poverty cycle?. This meant that more and more peasants would have many children in the hope of generating more income for the family. This however greatly increased the demand and strain on Russia?s agricultural industry to produce more food to feed the great Russian population which simply could not cope. The peasants used outdated farming techniques where each family was allotted a strip of land in a large field of land and this small amount of land had to be subdivided repeatedly between sons of peasants meaning that more and more peasants had less amounts of food and lived in extreme poverty. ...read more.

Conclusion

Many innocent lives were brutally taken away and the effects of this reverberated throughout the whole of Russia. From that day on, the people of Russia had finally lost all respect and pride that they had for the Tsar as their protector. Russian people not only became completely detached form the Tsar and his autocratic state, but from Russia itself. Finally in 1904, Russia entered a deeply humiliating war with Japan. This was caused by the Tsar?s interest in the Far East and his occupation of Chinese land which the Japanese had enormous interests in. As a result Japan declared war on Russia after a surprise attack and the whole of the Russian Naval army was destroyed. Not only did this expose Tsar Nicholas II?s inability as a military leader, but also made Russia look like extremely weak around the world by having been defeated by a non-Western power. Overall it seems clear that although conditions did improve to a small extent in Russia regarding new classes and economy, most of the events before WW1 in 1914 were highly negative. The Russian people were distrustful of their own government. They were mistreated to no end and received hardly any sympathy, empathy or actions on their behalf. Russia had already lost to a non-Western country in war and going into WW1 was a very bad idea. ...read more.

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