This post shares some historical information about Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution in remembrance of its 100 year anniversary. I hope my subscribers enjoy historical posts like these in the future. I love English and reading and writing, but I’m not a book review blog, so I’d like to branch out some, as I attempted with the Christmas carol posts. Whether the subject is literature or history or something else, my main objective is to create informative, interesting, brief posts. Speaking of brevity, this intro is already too long, so let’s get on to the post! One more thing, though–I don’t plan to make this blog political (I burned enough bridges during the 2016 American presidential election).
Russia was one of the last countries to outlaw serfdom, which is essentially enslavement of poor people by the land-owning rich. [Western Europe had outlawed it in the Middle Ages.] The serfs, or peasants, were emancipated in 1861, but technical issues around their purchasing and selling land made it almost impossible for them to survive. Many were driven to starvation. These events with other tensions like declines in Western markets reaching their economy prompted a revolution in 1905. Though the country had always been ruled by a tsar (king/dictator), Russia gained a new constitution in 1906 to divide governmental power between Tsar Nicholas II and a new parliament called the Duma. When World War I began in 1914 and Russia joined, the country suffered immensely–food scarcity was huge because Tsar Nicholas II printed so many rubles to finance the war that inflation grew unfettered. Combine food scarcity with overcrowding caused by their industrial revolution, ex-serfs still being unable to get ahead, and Tsar Nicholas II ignoring the Duma, and you have a recipe for revolution again. The revolution of 1917 occurred in two parts; in February, rebels overthrew Tsar Nicholas II, and members from the Duma ruled in the interim as the Russian Provisional Government. In October, the Bolsheviks (Marxists, or communists, under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin) successfully overthrew the RPG and established their own authority.
The Bolsheviks implemented a special police force called CHEKA in December 1917. They would go on to detain, persecute, torture, and execute thousands of people who were suspected as “enemies of the state.” In early 1918, civil war reignited in Russia. The Reds (Bolsheviks), the Whites (counter-revolutionaries), independence movements, and non-Bolshevik socialists participated. All sides endured massive loss, but the Bolsheviks won and renamed themselves the Communist Party. They withdrew Russia from WWI in March 1918 via a treaty with the Central Powers.