The Bolshevik Revolution In October-November 1917

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The Bolshevik Revolution In October-November 1917

1. Explain how Lenin’s oratory, personality and leadership contributed to the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917.

1. Lenin’s oratory skills, personality and leadership shaped the Bolshevik message to the Russian people. His April Theses’ main points formed the basis of the popular slogan ‘peace, land, bread’ which appealed to key groups e.g. Soldiers and workers.

 Lenin returned from exile in Switzerland after hearing about the march revolution (the abdication of the Tsar). He thought that the fall of the Tsar was the prelude to the collapse of the Russian armies, the German government arranged for Lenin to return to Russia in a sealed train across occupied Europe in the hope he would spread like a virus so that Russia would withdraw from the war. The Germans reasons were miltary. However, Lenins reasons were political. With Lenins return he changed the whole course of the revolution and on his arrival he made a speech demanding that ‘there should be no co-operation with the Provisional government’, ‘the war (WW1) should be ended immediately’, ‘the land should be given to the peasants’ and ‘the Soviets should take power’ (handout). The points in Lenin’s speech were later written up as the ‘April theses’, in which Lenin argued that there should be a second revolution in which the Soviets should take power ‘a Socialist revolution’ (handout), this would involve the workers taking power. Many Bolsheviks leaders were surprised and some did not take him seriously.

 The Bolshevik party did turn his ‘April theses’ in to slogans ‘Bread, Peace, Land’ and ‘All power to the Soviets’ (handout). This was what the people wanted to hear. These slogans boosted popularity of the Bolshevik party. The reason for these slogans being so popular was the fact that Lenin was a great speaker who could rally and inspire people at mass meetings. Inded, all his speeches were turned into slogans.

 In the ‘July days’ the war was a very important issue which set apart the Bolsheviks from other parties as they were the only ones who opposed the war. Furthermore, during the summer of 1917, the ordinary person became more opposed to the war and the Bolshevik popularity grew in strength. This was due to the growing problems of shortages of food etc. made it even worse for the ordinary people.

 Matters came to a head in July, when Kerensky launched a major attack on the Germans leading to a terrible defeat. It sparked an enormous demonstration in Petrograd, which became known as the ‘July days’. Soldiers and sailors poured in to the city as they decided to vote with their feet and workers poured in to the streets of Petrograd to complain about shortages of food etc. They naturally turned to the Bolsheviks but at this time they were not ready to seize power. In the end the demonstrating turned into riots and troops were sent into break up the mobs. Kerensky used this opportunity to shame the leader of the Bolsheviks, Lenin, by producing letters which seemed to show that he was in the pay of the Germans. Lenin had to flee to Finland also he had to shave off his beard to escape and other Bolshevik leaders were arrested. It seemed as if Lenin’s organisational skills had failed him and Kerensky became Prime Minister.

 Fortunately for Lenin events now started to work in the Bolsheviks favour. In the Autumn of 1917 they had a second chance to take power using Lenin’s oratory skills and personality, which was highly persuasive and determined. From a young age, after his brothers execution, he said he wanted to be a professional revolutionary to revenge his brother’s death. He had great leadership and organisational skills which ensured the party remained disciplined. He also supported other talented Bolsheviks e.g. Trotsky who organised the Red Guard which contributed a great deal to the Revolution.

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 In this Autumn period of 1917 Kerensky the Prime minister had appointed a general called Kronilov to be Leader of the army. However, Kornilov decided  it was time for action and a new strong military leadership; he decided it was time to get rid of these revolutionaries, and He ordered his Cossack troops to march on Pertograd. There was wide spread panic and Kerensky turned to the only people who could help him which were the Bolsheviks, so Kerensky gave the Bolsheviks rifles to their secret force the Red Guard which had been training secretly. In the end the railway ...

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