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Russian Revolution Questions and Answers (Q&A)

The Duma were the state assembly of Russia. First instituted by Tsar Nicholas II in 1905 it was intended to be an elected legislative body that, along with the State Council, made Russian law, and it did until the time of the March 1917 Revolution. However, it was doomed to failure because at its very first meeting, control over state ministers and portions of the state budget were removed.


The Tsar was in overall control. This limited its ability to initiate legislation effectively. The first two Dumas were elected and were predominantly socialist and communist, wanting to effect changes for the ordinary people. The Tsar disposed of both these Dumas. Well, he got his punishmnet in 1917, albeit rather over severe!

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The White Army failed to overthrow the Bolsheviks mainly because the Bolsheviks received support from the working class of central Asia. While the Bolsheviks had Lenin as their leader, no one person was in charge of the White Army.


The Whites had several leaders – Yudenich, Deniken, Wrangel and Kolchak. All of them wanted glory for themselves; they fought differently without co-operation which made it easier for the Bolsheviks to defeat them individually.

Also, the Bolsheviks were fighting for a definite cause (the establishment and survival of a communist Russia) but the Whites had problems motivating their troops and building up support. Some Russians feared that foreign intervention might bring an end to Russian independence in the case of White victory.


Over time, many soldiers deserted the White Army; it wasn’t surprising to see the Bolshevik support increase dramatically given the choice between them and the Whites.

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The Romanov family (Tsar Nicholas II, wife, 5 children and many others) were shot in Yekaterinburg on the night of 16 – 17th July 1918 under the orders of the Ural Regional Soviet and according to instructions by Lenin. Emperor


Alexander III, Nicholas' father believed that a Tsar had to rule with an iron fist. He forbade anyone within the Russian Empire to speak non-Russian languages; this weakened his people’s political institutions.

Nicholas inherited a restless Russia. Some days after his coronation, over a thousand of his subjects died during a huge stampede. Throughout his reign as Tsar, he faced discontent from his subject; he fought a war the people didn’t support. His government killed unarmed protesters during a peaceful assembly in 1905.


During World War 1, Russia was unprepared for the scale of magnitude fighting which led to the death of millions of soldiers and civilians. Nicholas was forced to step down. Bolshevik revolutionaries led by Lenin took over the Government. They took the family into captivity and eventually killed them.

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Marxism and socialism are two systems. What they have in common is the belief that assets and resources should be equally shared by all citizens irrespective of class or birth. Although it may appear that this was what Lenin was espousing, unlike Marx who insisted that revolutionary shared power must come from the work of the working class, Lenin believed the impetus - the plan, the intelligent thinking - must come from outside the working class.


Probably because he himself was from the more leisured educated professional class, despite his wish to make things equal, Lenin believed that the intelligentsia should lead the working class to manufacture change and equality.

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In the late 1930s Stalin's paranoia about being the greatest and unopposed autocrat led him to carry out the most vicious and extensive extermination of anyone who might be considered an enemy or opposing influence, and very many more besides. After Lenin's death, Stalin had had to share power with two others.


He was no team player and he vowed he wouldn't be in that position again, therefore his purges or reign of terror. He wanted to remove Leninists, Trotskyists, any peasants with money, any business dealers, anyone with potential influence. Many were killed, and nobody knows the exact number.


Numerous people simply disappeared and Stalin's men covered their tracks well. The official death toll is unknown, but there were 1,548,366 detained persons, of whom 681,692 were shot. Some days more than 1,000 executions were carried out, and this terror went on and on. Various historians claim that the real number of victims could be twice that Russia accepts as the death toll.

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Lenin is criticised for being late on the scene. That is, while the ordinary people were suffering greatly, leading to their desire to revolt, Lenin was in Switzerland. Although he fervently believed in providing for the peasant more than for the privileged, he was himself of the priveleged classes.


He quickly moved into leadership when he arrived back in Russia and was very successful in leading the revolution of October 1917.


However, the clear theme of demands for peace, land and bread for the populous did not have a good outcome. Germany gave Russia peace, but at such a damaging price - excessively severe reparations - that land and bread were not following so the people remained in poverty and hardship.

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After the October 1917 Revolution, a small group was produced for investigating threats to the Bolsheviki who had gained power and ousted the provisional government. This group of officials, the Cheka, was the first of numerous Soviet government agencies.


The Cheka - full name, All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage - became the first secret service, although it was well known about, rather than secret. Lenin used this agency to consolidate his power, and this was the beginning of Russia's development of secret service - political police - who were to terrorise the population/ The Cheka became an all-encompassing apparatus for the suppression of internal opposition. Lenin was determined to quash any insurrection, or risk of coup or espionage.

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The original Russian revolution was an unplanned, unorganised revolt against the harsh and impossible conditions of the ordinary people. This happened in late February of 1917. By July, the consequent unrest led to armed anti-government demonstrations of industrial workers and soldiers against the provisional government who were still landowners and not ordinary workers, despite their wish to make life easier for the working man.


The July Days were this period of demonstrations during which rival factions expressed their views vociferously. This resulted in a temporary weakening of Bolshevik influence.

Then there was the formation of a new Provisional Government, under a different leader. It was only three months before this itself was routed, and the Bolshevik power returned thanks to the leadership of Lenin who manned a bloodless coup.

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Lenin was not a murderer for starters. He had ideals rather than naked ambition. He was a visionary leader with followers who held the same ideas and followed for that reason, and to improve their lot, rather than following from sheer terror or a liking for meting out brutality, as Stalin's followers must have been to carry out the extensive atrocities over such a long period.


Lenin espoused the political reasoning of Marx and carried out the socialist principles on which communism, the equal sharing of resources, was based. It is not brutal Stalin who is revered today whereas Lenin is still regarded as the father figure and a creator of modern day communism.

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The revolution took place on March 8, 1917 but it is called the February revolution because of the Julian calendar that the Russians still used at that time. At that time, Russia had not switched from the Julian calendar to the new Gregorian calendar.


The Julian calendar was 11 days behind the Gregorian calendar, that is why the revolution is dated in the month of march but after the Bolshevic Revolution made the switch, the event was recalculated and converted under the new calendar and that the reason why the event appear to be in the following month.

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