While their officers enjoyed the ritual pleasures of tea drinking, Russian soldiers turned to the communal soup pot for sustenance.

While their officers enjoyed the ritual pleasures of tea drinking, Russian soldiers turned to the communal soup pot for sustenance.

One would think that having over six million soldiers in an army would be a great advantage in a ground war. That would probably be true for most countries but apparently not for Russia. I am talking about how this army seemed unbeatable on paper but when sent out into the field hardly stood a chance. Now history has shown that a nation specifically its leaders cannot maintain power if they cannot defend themselves in hard times. That is exactly what happened here in 1914. With the losses “at Tannenberg and the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes, in 1914, Russia lost two entire armies (over 250,000 men).”(Smele) These demoralizing losses, in a war that was supposed to be over fairly quickly, expedited the revolution by showing the people of Russia that their military commanders had no idea what they were doing. “Ineptitude began at the very top of the Russian general staff, where the minister of war insisted that the armed forces had mobilized efficiently and had adequate supplies, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.” (DHR Module 3) The retreat that resulted in the losses cost the russian military two million men. For a country that has been famous for its military prowess this may have been their darkest hour. The war itself did not solely contribute to the revolutions of 1917, for there were other factors that contributed to the fall of the Tsar and the Romanov’s.

Order No. 1 was one of those factors. Authorized by the¬†Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies on March 1, 1917, this order authorized “soldier committees” which they placed all military authority under. Now these committees were elected ones but lets be real this is Russia we are talking about, fair election is not in their vocabulary. “The first few weeks of the revolution witnessed the desertion of between 100,000 and 150,000 soldiers, most of whom were peasants anxious to return to their villages,” (Siegelbaum) this shows that no matter what the Russia government tried to do they could not get their military under control. Maybe its because they were all workers and farmers and did not have any military discipline. Incompetence is the general term I would use to describe the men in charge at this time because of their belief that they could revamp an entire military structure and then somehow get back up and start fighting without any problems. Maybe the 1917 revolution was the best thing to happen to Russia at the time.

 

Here is a link to Order No. 1 in english if you wish to read more: http://www.dhr.history.vt.edu/modules/eu/mod03_1917/evidence_detail_22.html

 

Sources:

Digital History Reader Module 3: 1917 Did the War Cause a Revolution?

Izvestiia, No. 3, March 2/15, 1917. Frank Alfred Golder, ed.,Documents of Russian History, 1914-1917, translated by Emanuel Aronsberg (New York: The Century Co., 1927): 386-87.

Siegelbaum, Lewis. Seventeen Moments in Soviet History . Accessed September 15, 2013. http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1917armyrevolt&Year=19

Smele, Jonathan. BBC. Accessed September 15, 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwone/eastern_front_01.shtml#one.

17&navi=byYear.