The war played a very important part in winning support for the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks were a minority party with very little support and its leaders were taken totally unawares by the February revolution. In fact, the main leaders were not even in Russia at the time. The Germans, with an eye to an opportunity, actually smuggled Lenin into Russia in a sealed train and it certainly seemed like a good idea at the time because the minute Lenin stepped off the train, trouble started to brew. Although the Bolsheviks were relatively unknown to the masses, they could easily identify with the slogan Lenin used to attract support; bread, peace and land. Peace meant coming out of the war and so, this increased their support. Bread, part of Lenin’s slogan was clearly an enormous issue for the people. Land was something Russian peasants yearned for; if they had land, they could feed and clothe themselves and improve their lifestyle. The final spark for the February revolution was bread riots – people were hungry. How Lenin proposed to actually provide sufficient bread was not discussed, although taking Russia out of the war would clearly be a start. Therefore, it can be seen that the war was important for both revolutions but in different ways.
One of the biggest differences between both revolutions is that the February revolution was spontaneous and grew out of the bread riots of 25th February whereas the October revolution was planned by the Bolshevik party. The February revolution broke out because of the frustration against food and fuel shortages, as well as those who lost employment as a result of the factories being shut down. On the 25th of February, as many as 300,000 people rioted violently against the situation. The Police began to fire at the crowds and men were killed. This caused even more chaos as police stations were also burned down. However, some members of the army troops and secret police joined the revolution against the government, greatly increasing the number of people revolting. This revolution only stopped when the government collapsed, the Tsar was forced to abdicate and was replaced by the Provisional Government.
The October Revolution began in April when Lenin gathered the Soviet Party (the Bolsheviks) to overthrow the Provisional Government. However, during the summer as the Bolsheviks were getting arrested and persecuted, Lenin had to hide in Finland. Despite this, he managed to keep in contact with the remaining members of the Soviet Party. The party had mixed fortunes during the summer, with support rising and falling. The July Days were particularly bad for the party as it was seen to have lost an opportunity and it then lost support, but after the Kornilov affair, the situation began to improve, support increased again and crucially they had arms. On the night of October 24th , Lenin had returned to Petrograd (the capital of Russia), and was ready to take over the city with the Bolsheviks and claim it for a new government. With the help of Trotsky, their plan was well organized to take over railroad stations, telephone service areas, banks and places of media production. Unlike the February revolution, the October Revolution was carefully organized and conducted quietly during the night with little notice. The last target for the Bolsheviks, after Petrograd, was the Winter Palace where they “slipped through gates and windows, climbed over walls and sneaked through underground basements and corridors” (Thompson) in order to avoid guard forces. This is directly in contrast with a particular event in the February Revolution where the people avoided blocked bridges in the city by crossing the frozen Neva River in big numbers. Another point of contrast is that the October Revolution was not as violent, the February one had only five soldiers, one sailor and no defenders killed. The streets during the second revolution remained calm, and the population continued with their everyday life as normal. This again stands in contrast to the firing on the crowd of February, and their equally violent reaction.
A political comparison is also necessary between the two revolutions. The February revolution ended three hundred years of Romanov Rule and Tsardom. The October Revolution instead ended any chance of representative government and replaced autocratic rule with bloody dictatorship which ended in 1989.
Both of the Revolutions were greatly influenced by the role of women. The point where they contrast is the nature of their role. In the first revolution, there were many women who started the riots and revolts, then followed by the joining of many other citizens and even troops who were assigned to stop the revolts. Alternatively, in the October one, it were the women who stood up until the end of the revolution against the revolutionaries as the other forces had abandoned their role. As they were outnumbered, the Bolsheviks then managed to take control of the Winter Palace and take over the Provisional Government.
World War One was a major cause for both revolutions and gave a widespread discontent with the Tsar and his regime. Although in the first one it was because of the effects of WW1, including the role of the Tsarina and Rasputin. Whilst in the October one, it was the participation of Russia in war, and loosing battle after battle. This revolution enjoyed the support of the public who became disenchanted with the Provisional Government that followed the Tsar. Instead the February revolution had its support in the cities and rural areas. In the end, in the February revolution, the long term discontent with the social class (ie: the peasantry which made up to 80% of the country was suffering from extremely poor living conditions) was the reason for the Tsar's abdication. Whilst, for the October revolution, the pain from the war helped to remove the Tsar, and the inability to govern coherently helped to move the Provisional Government, which paved the way for Lenin and the Bolsheviks.