The Bolsheviks and the Russian Empire

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  1. The Bolsheviks and the Russian Empire
  2. Russian Revolution | Definition, Causes, Summary, History, & Facts |
  3. War and Revolution in Russia 1914 - 1921
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The Bolsheviks and the Russian Empire

But the Bolshevik coup was at least as pivotal as World War I in shaping the 20th century, and it did so in several ways that get little notice today. World War I is often credited with laying the groundwork for European fascism. But the Bolshevik takeover did just as much, if not more, to spawn fascist regimes. Violent street battles between radical right- and left-wing agitators helped establish fascist movements.

Economic elites, fearful of leftist unrest, turned to fascist parties for protection. One of those detractors was Adolf Hitler. Although Hitler is mostly remembered for his anti-Semitism, the main enemy, as he saw it , was not international Jewry per se but Judeo- Bolshevism : international Jewry backed by a powerful state in the form of the Soviet Union.

That, to him, is what made the Jews an existential threat to the Aryan race. Had it not been for the Bolshevik putsch, Hitler would not have been Hitler. There may well have been no Nazi party and, consequently, no Second World War.

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Even if there had been another war, Russia would not have defeated Germany. The only reason it was in a position to win was because from to , Josef Stalin, at horrific human cost, engineered one of the fastest large-scale industrialization drives in world history. But they were probably needed in order to give Russia the heavy-industrial base required to win World War II and to supply that base with a labor force.

First, anyone with pretensions of ruling Russia had to win a civil war and establish a strong, centralized state. Second, they had to use that state to supercharge the industrialization process. Only the Bolsheviks were capable of fulfilling both these conditions. By mid, the authority of the tsarist-era state had collapsed. Various warlords had begun to assemble armies with an eye on conquering the Russian empire, in whole or in part. These warlords constituted one set of alternatives to the Bolsheviks.

Most were conservative military commanders who had served in the First World War. All would display stunning incompetence during the civil war of to Their failings cast serious doubt on the prospect that any one of them could have defeated the others and built an effective state, much less overseen breakneck industrialization. The other alternative was the Socialist Revolutionaries SR.

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The only party besides the Bolsheviks with a legitimate mass following by , the SR was founded in on a platform of agrarian socialism. It became notorious for carrying out political assassinations against tsarist officials. Unlike the Bolsheviks, who were well on their way to establishing a capable, disciplined party organization, the SR, and even separate factions therein, was wracked by internal divisions.

It lacked a charismatic leader on the order of Lenin who could have united the party and given it direction. Also missing were elite party members with the military and organizational skills of Trotsky or the political and administrative acumen of Stalin — extraordinary minds who would prove pivotal to the Bolshevik victory in the civil war and the construction of a state.

While morally commendable, such ideals were at odds with the need to forge an authoritative state out of the anarchic wreckage of tsarist Russia and upend society in pursuit of industrialization. Had the country fallen under the sway of bumbling warlords and an internally divided, incompetent SR, it would have entered an extended period of civil war.

Russian Revolution | Definition, Causes, Summary, History, & Facts |

The fighting would have lasted far longer than the three-year conflict the Bolsheviks ultimately won, more likely resembling the decades of bloody strife that decimated China from to Needless to say, a Russia riven by sustained internal violence would have hardly been in a position to fend off a foreign invader, whether Germany, Japan, or some other great power. One would be hard-pressed to argue that there existed some other political faction besides the Bolsheviks that was capable of winning a civil war, establishing a centralized state, and rapidly industrializing the country.

It took not just a willingness to seize power but also extraordinary skill, unrestrained brutality, and a capacity for mobilizing society in support of regime goals. Had there not been a World War II, or had Russia not won that war, our world today would be unrecognizable. There would have been no Cold War. No European Union. No divided Korea. No Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan and, consequently, no al Qaeda. Without the Holocaust, would a Jewish state have even emerged in the Middle East?

The possibilities are endless. Social scientists remain divided over whether history makes leaders or leaders make history. If ever there were a case for the latter view, the Bolsheviks provided it. Our village club was packed with people and I was wearing my red Pioneer tie. He gave us the star that burns in our country. I recited it so well that I was given a prize. In students from Leningrad University joined the annual parade to celebrate the revolution. In the crowd was Oumar Kamara from Mali, one of many young Africans who came to the Soviet Union to get a higher education:.

I studied fine arts and archaeology in the USSR from to It changed my life. The ideals of the revolution shaped us all intellectually. Even at kindergarten, Soviet children held special concerts every year to celebrate the revolution and they were taught to idolise the Bolshevik leaders.

Oxana from Ufa shared this memory:. When I was six, my mum took me the dentist for the first time. I was so scared. I was left alone in the corridor for a few minutes with only a bust of Lenin for company. So I climbed on a bench next to it and kissed Lenin.

I was convinced he would make me stronger and braver. The Russian Revolution inspired a whole generation of communists in India. Many, like Subhashini Ali , from Uttar Pradesh, are still active in politics today:. A close family friend who was a revolutionary taught her to sing the Internationale and told her stories about the Soviet Union. For people struggling for a new world based on equality and justice — the Soviet Union will always remain an inspiration, a reminder that such a world is possible.

In Irina Prokofyeva left school. Although she couldn't have known it then, the Soviet Union had just entered its final decade:.

I feel incredibly nostalgic about the Soviet times that are now gone. I was so happy then. She also knew two people called Kim - a popular name from an acronym of the Russian words for The Young Communist International. I still think they are beautiful names. It was an inspiration for many Iranians who took part in our own revolution in Standing in front of the huge Lenin statue in the capital, Sofia, I started thinking about all the statues of the Shahs that I had seen coming down.

The young conscripts were told that the apartheid regime in South Africa was the last bastion holding out against communism on the continent:. I joined up reluctantly but told myself that we were fighting communism, and we needed to do this. We were brought up to think of Lenin as a god-like figure. It was a big shock for me to realise that no-one cared about Lenin anymore and the queue for McDonalds was longer than the one for his mausoleum.

Shohi, from Uzbekistan, was among them:. But as time passed, attitudes began to change in Uzbekistan and the hijab was no longer considered acceptable. When I applied to do a post-graduate degree, I was told quietly that I would never get in unless I took off my headscarf. For me it had to be either proper full hijab or nothing at all. So eventually I took my headscarf off. I suppose in a way my story makes me a bit of a revolutionary — just like my great-grandmother Zubaida!

Troops on the streets At the end of October , the Bolsheviks seized power. Vladimir Raffe's father watched the revolution unfolding on the streets of Moscow: "A young guard walks up and down by the Kremlin gates, bayonet in hand, cigarette in his mouth. Russians fight Russians Not everyone welcomed Russia's new rulers. Mikhail Solovyev's great-uncle Victor Bakhmurin was a student at the Imperial Russian Army Artillery school: "A month after the revolution, Viktor and his fellow students joined a volunteer force fighting the Bolsheviks in southern Russia. Upheaval and chaos In the upheaval of the revolution and ensuing civil war, many people became separated from loved ones.

Fereydoun from Iran shared the story of his grandfather, Hassan-gholi, who fell in love with a Russian girl while working in a Moscow factory: "This is a picture of me and my grandfather. After the revolution, property was nationalised and many rich Russians were reduced to ruin.

Elena Luzina's great-grandmother bottom right was a wealthy philanthropist whose family were factory owners: "After the revolution they lost everything and she was sent to work on a collective farm. She raised her grandchild, while her daughter - my grandmother - went out to work. Hunger As the Bolsheviks fought to hold on to power, supply systems broke down and food shortages became a fact of life for many. Like many Russians who are now discovering their hidden past, Tatiana from Moscow recently learned what happened to her family in "My maternal great-grandmother was an educated woman who had four sons.

War and Revolution in Russia 1914 - 1921

After the revolution they lost everything, twice. First their livestock was confiscated and given to so-called poor people. Within a year all the animals died. The four sons were all arrested and exiled. Rebellion in the Caucasus In the Caucasus mountains, on the southern edges of the Russian Empire, the revolution opened a brief window of independence for countries like Georgia. The fall of the aristocracy For the Russian aristocracy, the revolution brought an abrupt end to a life of wealth and privilege. Emigration After the revolution, Russian emigres scattered across the world. Igor Fleischer Shevelev from Paraguay grew up in the household of a White Russian general who decided to make a new life in South America: "Juan Belaieff, or Ivan Belayev in Russian, was a very distinguished man who always dressed in military attire.

As the civil war raged across Russia, food and livestock were requisitioned from farms. Sima and Mina from Iran remember their Russian grandmother, Anastasia, on the right who had a smallholding in Ukraine with her Iranian husband, Jalil: "After the revolution everything was confiscated — even the flour they had hidden away. Grandmother said the only thing they left were the horses because she told the soldiers they were blind.

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After Lenin's death, Joseph Stalin assumed power. He began a series of purges in which millions would be arrested, imprisoned or executed. Yulia from Vladivostok shared the story of her grandfather, Pyotr Shchukin, who was a leading revolutionary from the Urals: "In he was arrested and shot after a false denunciation. He was only As the family of an 'enemy of the state', his children suffered a lot.

It took 50 years for my grandfather to be rehabilitated. His great-grandson Pyotr is named after him. The lawyer from Samarkand Stalin's purges reached the very edges of the Soviet Union. Diloram from London tells the story her grandfather, Narzyqul Mirza, a prominent lawyer from Samarkand, who had supported the revolution: "He was falsely accused of spying and sent into exile in the Russian Far East.

His grandson Almaz tells the story: "Kadyrmambet was arrested and sent to a labour camp in the Urals. From Detroit to the Gulag Soviet citizens who had travelled abroad were a particular target for Stalin's secret police.

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Igor Artsybushev's grandfather, also called Igor, was sent to work at the Ford factory in Detroit in the s, to learn about the US motor industry: "He returned home in to a job at the new tractor factory in Chelyabinsk. Famine and the Cossacks At the beginning of the s, the Soviet authorities' attempts to force the peasantry into collective farms, caused a catastrophic famine.

Natalia Evdoshenko's grandmother Pelageya Kovalenko was one of them: "My grandmother was born in Vietnam's first seismologist In the decades after the Russian Revolution, many liberation movements and uprisings around the world took their inspiration from the momentous events of Vladimir and Ernesto Like many Latin American countries, Venezuela experienced a surge of support for Communism in the s.

Ondurush Toktonazarov, from Kyrgyzstan became a member in at the age of "It was the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Habibullo Kholjorayev was a student in Moscow. The fine arts scholar from Mali. In the crowd was Oumar Kamara from Mali, one of many young Africans who came to the Soviet Union to get a higher education: "This a photograph of me with my university friends from Congo, Vietnam and Russia.

Oxana from Ufa shared this memory: "Our teachers used to tell us Lenin was the kindest and wisest man on Earth. Many, like Subhashini Ali , from Uttar Pradesh, are still active in politics today: "My mother, Lakshmi Swaminadhan, was born just a year after the revolution and it had a big influence on her life.

Proud to be a Young Communist. Although she couldn't have known it then, the Soviet Union had just entered its final decade: "This is me in my last year at school. Falling statues In Faraj from Tehran went to Bulgaria on his first ever trip abroad: "I grew up with stories about the Russian Revolution and how it had brought equality to all. The young conscripts were told that the apartheid regime in South Africa was the last bastion holding out against communism on the continent: "As a suburban white kid, I was fairly uninformed about politics.

I'm in the middle. I feel like I fought on the wrong side of history because I was fighting for the apartheid government that was involved in the oppression of my fellow South African citizens. Shohi, from Uzbekistan, was among them: "My great-grandmother Zubaida was one of the first women in Samarkand to stop wearing the Islamic veil.