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Why were the Bolsheviks able to seize power in Petrograd in 1917?

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Introduction

History Coursework: Why were the Bolsheviks able to seize power in Petrograd in 1917? Russia, at the time of the 1917 revolution, was one fifth of the landmass of the planet. Due to this, communication was slow and because Russia was a very unindustrialised country, communication between 5000 miles (at its peak) of outstretched landscape could take weeks. Peasantry would become harder to control, which is not very good in a country where 97% of the population are defined as peasantry. Only 44% of the population were actually Russian, the rest of the population primarily made up of Ukrainians, Poles, White Russians, Turkic Muslims, Jews, Finns and a variety of smaller ethnic groups. The bureaucrats, that the Tsar appointed, were corrupt and often took bribes, in order that they would "overlook" a situation. From January 1904 - August 1905, the Russo-Japanese War took place. Huge humiliation lie in store for Russia. The Russian army was forced to retreat on the land and Russian ships were sunk at Port Arthur. At the battle of Mukden in February 1905, the army received 89,000 casualties. In May 1905 the whole of the Russian Baltic fleet was sunk within 30 minutes, after it had sailed halfway around the globe. ...read more.

Middle

There was inflation in Russia between 1914 and 1916. This inflation was exacerbated by the Russia industry producing 4.5 million shells a month. Average earnings in the urban areas doubled, but food and fuel prices tripled and quadrupled in some areas, and taxes were also raised. This caused urban unrest, which now joined the intellectual discontent of Liberal politicians on the Home Front, but the peasantry benefited from the inflation as food was crucial to the rest of the country and it was expensive. 15 million men were taken from the countryside to go to war, so production was lowered. Women and children were left to work the fields. Defeat, bad conditions and news of home problems made conscript soldiers question Russia's war aims. As a result, socialist ideas spread through the army. It can be argued that the Tsar cut his own throat during the war as he was refusing to co-operate with non-governmental organisations, such as town councils and Zemstvo unions, who wanted to help with the war effort. These unions and groups would work together to help the war casualties, independently of the Tsar. This was a clear indication that there could be a democratic alternative to the overruling Tsardom. ...read more.

Conclusion

There was another uprising in July, which the Bolsheviks were accused for starting, but they were not the culprits as they weren't even there. This was known as the 'July Days'. In September 1917, Kornilov, a right wing army commander tried to overthrow Alexander Kerensky's liberal and social government and capture Petrograd. Kerensky was helpless, so he decided to release and arm the Bolsheviks that he had imprisoned after the 'July Days'. They defeated Kornilov, who fled. The Bolsheviks were now seen as the saviours of St.Petersburg, which strengthened their popularity. On the 23rd of October 1917, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin returned to St.Petersburg, from exile in Finland to persuade the doubters that the time to seize power from the Provisional Government was now. Lenin announced as he was preparing to leave Finland, "History will not forgive us if we do not assume power". On this same day Leon Trotsky won over troops at the Peter-Paul Fortress, making 100,000 rifles available. On November 6th the revolution was finally carried out after being planned for months by Lenin and Trotsky. The Bolsheviks took the Post Offices, Telephone exchanges, Electronic light plant, Railway stations, the bank, the arsenal at the Peter-Paul Fortress and the bridges over the River Neva. The Provisional Government offices in the Winter Palace fell as a result and the planned Bolshevik revolution was accomplished. ...read more.

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