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Between the Revolutions

March to October 1917

The Provisional Government, the

Petrograd Soviet, the return of
Lenin and the Kornilov Affair.
The Provisional Government
 Shared Dual Authority  As they weren’t elected
with the Petrograd by the people they lacked
Soviet. legitimate authority and
 Led by Prince Lvov – failed to win the loyalty
many members of old of the Russian people.
duma formed part of the  Kerensky was a member
Government. of both the Provisional
 Not elected – Milyukov, a Government and the
member said that the Petrograd Soviet.
Revolution had
‘appointed them’!

 A soviet is a workers  Enjoyed more credibility,

council – previous soviets popularity and power
had been set up during than the Provisional
the 1905 Revolution. Government.
 The Soviet saw itself  Was able to restrain the
initially as a watchdog government – for
for the workers. example had ultimate
 Soviets spread control over the Armed
throughout Russia. forces with ‘Soviet Order
Number 1’.
Working together ?
The Dual Authority
 Initially the 2 bodies cooperated well and
useful and effective changes were
introduced including:
recognition of Trade Unions
8 hour day for industrial workers
full civil and religious freedoms
commitment to a constituent assembly
 As the year progressed the increasingly
contrasting political makeup of the 2 bodies
began to lead to disagreements. The
Provisional Government moved further to
the right politically and the Soviet moved to
the left. This made cooperation much more
difficult and tension between the 2 increased.
The main issues of disagreement were
Russia’s involvement in the WW1 and the
land question.
 Kerensky said that…
 The Provisional Government
had authority without power,
and The Petrograd Soviet had
power without authority.
Lenin returns!!
 Lenin’s return was aided  Lenin arrived in Russia
by the Germans (who and immediately
hoped to knock Russia condemned the February
out of the world war by Revolution and spoke of
destabilising her further). his desire to overthrow
He traveled across the Provisional
occupied Europe in a Government – calling it a
sealed train. ‘parliamentary-
bourgeois republic’
Did you know..
 Lenin had a speech impediment, making
him unable to pronounce the letter “R”.
 The return of Party leaders in 1917 was
commonly greeted with street parties
involving lots of alcohol. Much of the
crowd at Finland station in 1917 may have
arrived expecting free beer.
 Lenin once said “I can’t listen to music too
often… It makes me want to say kind,
stupid things, and pat the heads of
The April Theses
 On the 4th of April Lenin issued his ‘April
Theses’. The ‘Theses’ set out Bolshevik policy
and expressed Bolshevik support for the Soviets
(he certainly recognised their importance as an
established powerbase). Lenin stated that the
February Revolution was only the first stage of
the Revolution. He refused to compromise on
his belief in the power of the worker.
 Began to use slogans – ‘Peace, Bread and Land’
and ‘All power to the Soviets’.
Problems for the
 Kerensky tried to persuade
the Russian people to
support the war by saying
 The Provisional that it would help to save
Government wanted to the Revolution, however
continue with WW1 – this public opinion was firmly
was unpopular with opposed by that time.
many people and  Sailors and workers at the
provided the Bolsheviks Kronstadt naval base set up
with increased support. their own government in
 Strikes occurred to defiance of the Provisional
protest against the war. Government – this gave
other revolutionaries hope.
The July Day – almost a
disaster for the Bolsheviks!!
 Unrest was increasing throughout Russia
– this discontent was focused on the
Provisional Government.
 The July Days Rising (3-6 July):
- widespread demonstrations
- confused and disorderly
- supported by the Bolsheviks (?)
- easily crushed by Government troops
July Days continued…..

 Even though the Bolsheviks didn’t claim

responsibility for the July Days fiasco, the
Provisional Government saw it as a
Bolshevik challenge to its authority and
had many Bolsheviks arrested. Lenin fled
Petrograd. The failure of the July Days
severely hurt the reputation of the
Bolshevik party as a serious revolutionary
The Land Question
 The Provisional
 Land shortages were a huge Government and the
problem in 1917. Soviet did not have a
 Peasants had believed that solution to the land
the February Revolution question – but Lenin
would bring them land – it spotted the political
hadn’t! Discontent grew advantage in the
and peasants began to seize situation and adopted a
land. land policy (stolen from
the SRs) promising ‘Land
to the peasants’. This
brought renewed support
for the Bolsheviks.
The Bolshevik Revolution
Kerensky’s (June) final offensive
• Kerensky ordered final military offensive against Central Powers along
Eastern Front, mid-1917
• Drive failed and led to widespread rebellion in Russian army
• Weakened Russian army collapsed

Bolshevik takeover Lenin became leader

• Conditions ideal for Lenin • Established radical Communist
• Armed Bolshevik factory workers, program
Red Guard, attacked provisional • Made private ownership of land
government, November 1917 illegal
• Known as October Revolution • Land given to peasants
• Kerensky’s government collapsed • Control of factories given to
after nearly bloodless struggle workers
The Kornilov
Affair– a right-
wing coup?

 Kornilov was an army officer who hated

Lenin and the Soviets and had not fully
accepted the February Revolution.
 Kornilov made the decision to move
troops to Petrograd to protect it against
advancing German soldiers and growing
unrest in the city itself.
 Kerensky publicly condemned Kornilov’s action
saying that he was bringing the troops to
overthrow the government.
 Kerensky asked the people of Petrograd to fight
against Kornilov – he gave weapons to ‘loyal’
people and released many Bolsheviks from
prison so they could fight.
 No fighting occurred in the end because
Kornilov’s train was stopped on its way to
Petrograd and he was arrested.
 Bolsheviks claimed that they had ‘saved’ the
revolution and that the Provisional Government
and been shown to be vulnerable.
Why did the Provisional
Government fail to win support?
 Weak Political and popular foundation
 Continued fighting in WW1
 June Offensive
 Lack of focus on Economic problems
 Alienation of both upper class and working
class supporters
What were the turning points in
the rise of the Bolsheviks
 Lenin’s return and the April Thesis
 July Days (A disaster, but learnt some
important lessons)
 Kornilov Revolt
 Growth in Political Support in the
Petrograd and Moscow Soviet and the All
Russian Congress of Soviets
What were lessons learnt from
the July Days
 Successful uprisings must be coordinated
and directed from above with strong
 Bolsheviks must assume power alone, as a
coalition of revolutionary parties was
 Bolsheviks still lacked mass popular
support and had to first achieve a majority
in the Petrograd Soviet
What were lessons learnt from
the July Days
 Large scale, public protests breed failure;
it is necessary to use surprise tactics in
multiple locations at night.
 PG maintained enough military support to
defeat armed insurrections, so must use
small, disciplined groups of trained
workers and sailors.
Why the Bolsheviks became
more popular
 Demoralisation of the army after the June
Offensive multiplied the Bolshevik groups
within the army from 44 in July to 108 in
 Seen as the defenders of Petrograd after
the Kornilov Revolt
 Promoted themselves as TRUE
revolutionaries because they had not
cooperated with the PG
Why the Bolsheviks became
more popular
 They gained majority in the Petrograd and
Moscow Soviets by September
 Trotsky elected Chairman of the Petrograd
The Bolsheviks were now in a
powerful and popular position.
The Provisional Government
had been weakened and the
time was ripe for a change!!!!!
Events of Bolshevik Revolution
1. Cruiser Aurora listens to Trotsky and disobeys
Governments order to go out to sea
2. Trotsky orders the removal of thousands of
guns from the Fortress of Peter and Paul to
arm the Red Guards (Bolshevik troops)
3. Small bands of armed Bolsheviks seize
important buildings (rail stations, telegraph
exchanges, banks, printing plants, and
powerhouses). Most regiments in Petrograd
did not get involved.
4. Trotsky declares Provisional Government
overthrown, power now in hands of Soviets
5. Kerensky escapes in American Embassy car
dressed in drag
Events of Bolshevik
6. Bolshevik troops surround Winter Palace and
give ultimatum to surrender or be shelled;
ministers would not surrender
7. Cruiser Aurora fires blank shells at Winter
Palace to signal beginning of attack
8. Bolsheviks (composed of soldiers, sailors, and
workers) storm? Winter Palace
9. Bolsheviks encounter little resistance, mass
confusion but few injuries
10. Bolsheviks control Government, Lenin was new
How Did Bolsheviks Win?
 Kerensky not a strong
 Provisional Government
 Other parties not as
organized as Bolsheviks
 Bolsheviks composed of
revolutionaries dedicated
to their goals and capable
of carrying them out
What Did Lenin Do Upon
Coming to Power?
 Immediately proposed an
end to War (WWI) (what
peasants wanted most
was peace)
 Proposed the distribution
of all land to peasants,
landowners would not be
paid for land taken from
 Lenin’s proposals
After the Revolution

 Bolsheviks encountered stiff resistance in

some cities
 Bolsheviks defeated in Kiev (Ukraine)
 Bolshevik power weak in Siberia, Georgia,
Armenia, and Central Asia
 Strongest in Central Russia and in large
cities where many workers lived
Formation of Soviet Govt.
 Lenin announced a new Soviet Govt., The
Council of Peoples Commissars
 All commissars were Bolsheviks
 A new Soviet Central Executive Committee
was voted in, made up of 29 Left SR’s, 6
Mensheviks and 62 Bolsheviks.
 Soviet power had been proclaimed
 Though they had mass support with “all
power to the soviets”, many were not
happy with “all power to the Bolsheviks”.
 To appease the masses, Lenin claimed
that the Sovnarkom would only lead until
the Constituent Assembly convened in
early 1918.
 However, the bourgeois PG had been
overthrown, replaced with the Bolsheviks.
 November 25 elections held to form Constituent
Assembly in Russia
 Socialist Revolutionary Party got more than twice the
votes of the Bolshevik Party (peasants liked SRP’s idea
of peasant ownership of land)
 When Constituent Assembly met on January 18, 1918,
Bolsheviks posted their soldiers at the entrances
preventing many Socialist Revolutionaries from entering
 During meeting, Bolsheviks were disorderly and
succeeded in closing down the assembly
 Russia’s first chance at democracy short lived