How important was the First World War to the collapse of the Tsarist regime?

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By Daniel Harrington Candidate no: 5093

15a. How important was the First World War to the collapse of the Tsarist regime?

The First World War’s importance to the fall of the Tsar is unquestionable but there were many reason that lead up to the fall of the Tsar so how important was WW1 to the collapse of the Tsar?

 The brief reasons why Russia even joined the war in the first place were that they believed they were the protectors of the Slav people and therefore ought to protect their freedom from the invading Austrians which then led to Germany declaring war on Russia.

There are different interpretations to this question one of them, Lionel Kochan who wrote “The Making of Modern Russia” in 1962, arguing that the First World War was of major importance in bringing about the fall of the Tsar, stating that workers had already turned against the Tsar, as chaos piled up on the streets of Petrograd.   The wave of strikes that the war had caused was more down to a lack of food and supplies for the workers.  But the army was important because in 1905 after the Russo-Japanese war, the following workers revolt was put down by the army who were loyal to the Tsar. The key difference in 1917 was the military were fighting the German threat so Russia could not spare the men needed to police the streets. Not only this, but the Tsar had made the mistake of making himself commander in chief of the Russian army, this lead to solders resenting the Tsar as a leader. Kochan also states that ‘the railway systems in the western provinces and Poland proved inadequate’ the railways were important during the last revolt as solders were transported from Vladivostok to Petrograd to protect the city and the Tsar.

Kochan believes the War had ‘utterly destroyed any confidence that still remained between the government and the people’ which shows that the war dented confidence in the Tsar according to Kochan but that confidence had already been lost in the Tsar prior to the war.

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Historian Richard Pipes writing in 1990 in his book the Russian Revolution argues that the circumstances left the Tsar little option but to abdicate, but Pipes does try to show the importance of the Tsar to the people, prior to the war, stating that “Russia without a Tsar in the people’s minds was a contradiction in terms; for them it was the person of the Tsar that defined and gave reality to the state”. According to Pipes the peasantry remained loyal but the idea of a redistribution of land tempted them to revolt, but from historical evidence the SR’s (socialist ...

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