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  • The Bolshevik

    Posted on September 15th, 2014 katiewells9 2 comments

    kustbolshevik

     

    What was the relative importance of immediate events, long-term social and economic developments, the crisis in political authority, and the stresses of the war to the revolutions of February and October, 1917?

    Weak and changing political authority combined with growing unrest in citizens and a war to fight, is enough to topple any state or nation. Russia was no different. In 1917, citizens of Russia were continuing to display their distrust and overall unrest with the government. Much of this came from the fact that the tsar was continuing to take more power for himself and ignoring the wishes of the people.

    This growing unrest led to strikes in January and February of 1917, “the majority of the strikes linked economic grievances to political concerns and agendas. On International Women’s Day (February 23), women textile workers protested shortages while standing in line for bread, instigating a wave of riots and demonstrations that soon engulfed the capital.” (Did the War Cause the Revolution?) Propertied classes saw the autocracy’s ineptitude and began to worry about their future in the postwar world, while the lower levels of society continued to see their grievances ignored and their tolerance was running out.

    After the February Revolution, people had difference expectations of life in Russia from that point on (and in the end, no one was very happy). This led to the rise of the Bolsheviks. Lenin, the Bolshevik leader, returned to Russia and ran the party with a very clear and consistent message: “peace, bread, and land.”

    The continued unrest and disappointment played a direct role in the October Revolution, as well as Lenin’s power hunger. The Bolsheviks created the Military Revolutonary Committee (MRC) and proceeded the storm the Winter Palace on October 24.

    I chose to highlight the photo above because it really stood out to me as a powerful representation of what was occurring at the time in Russia. According to the Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, the Bolsheviks’ main focus was soley on gaining power. This statement is what I see depicted in the image. There are thousands upon thousands of people storming the streets led by The Bolshevik.

    Another area that the photo brought to my attention was the conflict of culture and its place in Russian society. The idea that “cultural production should be subordinate to the state, was unthinkable to the revolutionaries of October, and the most compelling claims to a cultural revolution were staked by independent artists.” (Culture and Revolution)

    These events and others are what led directly to both of the revolutions of 1917. I believe that had all of the events leading up to the revolutions, as well as the economic standing and social unrest of the time, not occurred or been the case, the revolutions would not have happened. History has a way of repeating itself and Russia saw that from 1905 to 1917. Every issue played a role in the revolutions in some way or another, especially their involvement in WWI.

     

    Sources:

    http://www.dhr.history.vt.edu/modules/eu/mod03_1917/context.html

    http://soviethistory.macalester.edu/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1917newculture&Year=1917&navi=byYear

    Russia a History.

     

  • Father Gapon vs. ‘Our Father’

    Posted on September 8th, 2014 katiewells9 11 comments

    Bloody Sunday began as a call from the people, to their leader to make the changes they saw necessary. It ended in the death of hundreds.

    ?????In 1904, an Orthodox priest named Georgii Gapon mobilized thousands of workers into his ‘Assembly of Factory Workers’. Originally, the purpose of the organization was to provide a safe outlet to discourage people from radical movements in places such as tearooms and public lectures, but they soon spiraled out of control. By 1905 Gapon’s organization led a march on the Winter Palace with a petition for Tsar Nicholas, ‘our father’.

    This petition was written by intellectual advisors, but also included the desires of the workers and the common man.

    petition        Tsar-Nicholas-II

    “We are impoverished and oppressed, we are burdened with work, and insulted. We are treated not like humans [but] like slaves who must suffer a bitter fate and keep silent. And we have suffered, but we only get pushed deeper and deeper into a gulf of misery, ignorance, and lack of rights.” (The ‘Bloody Sunday’ petition to the tsar (1905))

    Their demands included having open communication with their employers, reducing the workday to eight hours, agree on wages, provide medical care, and have acceptable working conditions. These requests seem simple and obvious today, but the Tsar did not see them in that light. He refused to even accept the petition from the people by failing to appear at the palace. He went a step further to show his contempt for the people’s actions by authorizing open fire on any advancing petitioners.

    bloody_sunday_-_russia_-_1905

    These petitioners were unarmed and many of them were women and children. As news spread of the Tsar’s actions, many people turned against him almost immediately. This Bloody Sunday led to the 1905 Revolution and the attempt for reform within Russia.

    1905      newspaper

     

    revolution article

    In a journal article I found called “An American View of Bloody Sunday,” by William Askew, he brings to the attention of the reader some of the many misconceptions that can be had surrounding the events of Bloody Sunday. This article was written in 1952 and published in the Russian Review vol. 11. The article begins by asking questions regarding Gapon’s true motives, whether or not the petitioners made it to the Winter Palace, and if Tsar Nicholas gave the okay for the military to open fire. Askew finds an answer for these questions in a letter from Robert S. McCormick, the United States ambassador at St. Petersburg at the time.

    It was very interesting to find a report so opposite to what other sources report from around that time period.

    The one thing that has continuously gone through my mind while researching more about Bloody Sunday is Tiananmen Square Massacre. Tiananmen Square occurred in 1989 in China when hundreds of college students protested the government and military tanks were brought in to put a stop to them. The rest of the world did not agree with the use of such force to shut down protestors and western governments imposed economic sanctions and arms embargos.

    thetankman    Chinese Army Crushes Tiananmen Square Protest

     

    Sources:

    http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu:8080/stable/pdfplus/125922.pdf?acceptTC=true&jpdConfirm=true

    http://alphahistory.com/russianrevolution/bloody-sunday-petition-1905/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_protests_of_1989

    Freeze, G. L. (2009). Russia a history. United States: Oxford University Press.