"The leadership of Lenin was the main reason why the Bolsheviks were able to seize power in 1917." Use the sources, and your own knowledge, to explain whether you agree with this view.
Sarah Fotheringham LVL
“The leadership of Lenin was the main reason why the Bolsheviks were able to seize power in 1917.” Use the sources, and your own knowledge, to explain whether you agree with this view.
I agree with this statement to a certain extent. There were however other factors
helping him to seize the power.
I agree with it because Lenin was an effective public speaker, practical and
determined. He was aware of how important his role was and was seen as an inspiration to many people. Lenin knew how to gain popularity and used effective slogans such as ‘Peace! Bread! Land!’ in April 1917, which appealed to the bulk of the population of Russia as the army wanted ‘Peace!’ and the peasants and workers wanted ‘Bread!’ and ‘Land!’ He was dedicated and committed in his work and an example of this was making sure the Bolsheviks attended all parties. He realised that the Bolsheviks stood a better chance of completing their goal if they worked alone as a party and so Lenin refused co-operation with the Provisional Government. His timing of events was very good as he was successful in October even if he misjudged the timing for the ‘July Days’. By using the sources I can tell Lenin was the main reason why the Bolsheviks were able to seize power as in Source D he is pictured urging the Red Guards on, on top of a car during the storming of the Winter Palace.
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This tells me that the Red Guards looked to him for encouragement and saw him as their leader. Source E also agrees with the statement as it states that Lenin was ‘a genius as a leader’ and that he ‘acted wisely and with great courage’. It say that the
Bolsheviks were ‘highly organised and well disciplined’, showing that Lenin’s leadership influenced the Bolsheviks. It also says that ‘the Revolution went ahead according to Lenin’s plans’ giving me the impression that Lenin had a lot to do with the planning of the Revolution and therefore was a main reason why the Bolsheviks were able to seize power in 1917.
However Trotsky played an important role in the seizure of power. He was an effective military leader and was in control of the Red Army and the Petrograd Soviet.
He was also in charge of the Military Revolutionary Committee and organised weapons for the Bolsheviks, which had been given to them (but never taken back) by
Kerensky so the Provisional Government could be defended from the Kornilov Revolt. Trotsky also drew up the plans for the revolution. In Source F we are told Trotsky was the main reason for the power seize shown in ‘Trotsky, not Lenin, planned and organised how the Bolsheviks seized power’, and when we are told that ‘Lenin arrived at the Bolshevik headquarters in disguise and when some people recognised him he hid’ it gives me the impression that Lenin was not as brave and inspirational as he is often seen but afraid of being found. This shows that Trotsky was important in the Bolsheviks seizing power.
The Provisional Government was another factor that influenced the Bolsheviks in taking power. The Provisional Government made themselves unpopular with the Russian population as they continued the war so they lost the support of the army and they refused to give the peasants land so the peasants took it for themselves and the Provisional Government lost their support. They lacked authority as they were un-elected and this partially was the cause of massive chaos in the cities led by the workers. All the classes of people mentioned turned to their support to the Bolsheviks and saw them as the solution to all their problems. The Provisional Government gave the impression of weakness, as they had to get help from the Bolsheviks to defeat
Kornilov. From the sources I can tell that the Provisional Government was losing popularity because in Source A and B due to the decision to carry on with the war the food rations became lower but more expensive. ‘People had to stand in queues for hours in the freezing rain to buy milk’ is an example of this but also draws the attention to the fact that people would be very discontented to have to wait in the rain for small amount of milk. In Source C the Provisional Government’s unpopularity is mentioned again as shown in, ‘food and fuel remained in short supply. Now the people desperately wanted the war to end.’ Therefore this shows that the unpopularity of the Provisional Government was an important factor influencing the Bolsheviks seizing power in 1917.
The war helped the Bolsheviks seize power as everyone wanted it to end. The war had resulted in hunger in the cities as transport was disrupted and Lenin was offering ‘Peace!’ which basically said that the Bolsheviks would end the war if they were in power. The Provisional Government then lost support of the army, which was their only defence against attacks, and this ultimately led to their downfall thereby proving the war played an important role in the Bolsheviks seizing power.
Although Lenin played a crucial role in the Bolsheviks seizing power he was not the main reason, because if the other factors were not present at the same time then I do not believe he would have been successful in getting power, and therefore I disagree with the statement.