(1917-1921) By Lance Wilson, Austen Tyryfter, and Cole Bachmeier

"A lie told often enough becomes the truth."- Vladimir Lenin

Rioting during Russian Revolution
Although Russia was one of the original belligerents in World War I, they were completely unprepared for the war. They had no good military leaders, and the army was often lead by Czar Nicholas II, who possessed no training or skill in the art of war. In the first two years of the war, Russia had lost six to eight million soldiers. Most had been wounded or captured, but there were over two million deaths. Nicholas II was an autocratic ruler. His power was maintained through the use of the army and the bureaucracy. While the czar was on the battlefront, his wife Alexandra ruled the country. She, however, was under the influence of a Siberian man named Grigori Rasputin. Only Rasputin had been able to stop the bleeding of the hemophilic Russian heir, Alexis. Alexandra believed Rasputin was a holy man, and would first consult him before making decisions. His interference caused Russia to fall into many military and economic disasters. As a result, the Russians became upset with the autocratic regime, and even the aristocrats in support of the monarchy felt that reform was required. In December of 1916 they assassinated Rasputin. He was a strong man, and was only killed after being shot three times, tied up, and thrown into the Neva River. Even after all of this he was still able to untie the knots holding him while before finally drowning.

A few months later, in March 1917, working class women went on strike in the Russian capital, Petrograd (previously known as St. Petersburg). The government had begun bread rationing in response to the high cost of bread. On March 8, thousands of women went through the streets demanding "Peace and Bread." By March 10, all factories in the city had been shut down due to lack of workers. While the czar's wife was certain that the revolt would amount to nothing, the legislative body of Russia, called the Duma, called for the czar to step down, which he did on March 15. The Romanov dynasty had come to an end. The new leader of Russia, Alexander Kerensky, chose to continue fighting World War I. This displeased the lower classes who wanted the war to be over. Representatives of these lower classes came together in councils called soviets. The soviets were mainly socialists and held radical views supported by some in the lower class. One of the more violent of these groups was the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks were led by Vladimir Ilyich Ulianov, better known as Vladimir Lenin. The Bolsheviks believed that the capitalist system could only be defeated by a violent revolution. Lenin saw an opportunity to do this once the provisional government was set up. Lenin was certain that if they could gain control of the people they would be able to easily overthrow the government. Slogans used by the Bolsheviks promised land to peasants, peace to Russia, and power to the soviets.

By October 1917, Bolshevik membership had grown to over 240,000. On November 6, the seat
Winter Palace

of the Russian provisional government, called the Winter Palace, was captured. The power of the nation was shown to have transferred to the Congress of Soviets. The real power was transferred to the Council of People's Commissars. In an attempt to create peace for Russia, Lenin signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. This gave up some of Russia's western lands but ended the war with Germany. Lenin was critized by some for giving up Russia lands, but he was certain that socialism would spread through Europe, and that the treaty would no longer matter when that happened. The Communists were now in control, though they had many opponents. The Allied Powers of World War I, concerned that the Communists would completely take over Russia, sent troops and supplies to the anti-communist force, called the White Army. From 1918 to 1921 they fought a civil war with the Communist forces, called the Red Army. Though the White Army made several significant advances, the Red Army always managed to push them back. This was due to the fact that while the Red Army was well organized, highly disciplined, and fighting for a common cause, the White Army was poorly organized, and each leader had a different view about what government should be set up if they won. The communist system made it easy for the Red Army to get supplies, and a secret police was created to remove people against the communists. In 1921, the communists would emerge from the civil war victorious and in control of a centralized nation.

Russian Revolution Terms:

Red Forces Poster

  • Soviets- Councils composed of representatives from soldiers and workers. The government did not like soviets because that challenged their authority. A soviet party, Petrograd was formed in March 1917.
  • Bolsheviks- A small faction of the Marxist Party called the Russian Social Democrats. The leader of this faction was Vladimir Ilyich Ulianov who was known by the world as V. I. Lenin. Lenin led this group in a violent revolution.
  • Cheka- The red secret police that began a Red Terror that was aimed at the destruction of all those who opposed the new Russian Regime. The Red Terror was similar to the Reign of Terror in the French Revolution.
  • War Communism-A policy used to ensure regular supplies for the Russian Red Army. This meant the government control of most industries, banks, grain from peasants, and the centralization of state administration under the Communist control.
  • Red Forces- The forces that were for the new Bolshevik or Communist, regime. The Red Forces formed the Communist Army between 1918 and 1921 and they had to battle with the White Forces on a multitude of fronts. The first threat to the Communists in Russia was the Siberians.
  • White Forces- The anti-Communist Force that attacked the Red Forces Westward and they advanced close to the Volga River before being stopped. White Forces also came from the Ukrainians from the southwest and the Baltic regions. These forces lost
    due to the fact that they didn’t have a common goal.
  • Hemophilia- A medical disease in which the infected individual has a deficiency in the ability of the blood to clot. Czar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra had a child with this disease. Their child was healed by a Siberian Peasant called Grigori Rasputin.
  • Petrograd- The capital city; this city was formerly St. Petersburg. In Petrograd a series of strikes led by the women of the working class broke out at the beginning of March 1917. These women were tired of working 12-hour days and they demanded “Peace and Bread”.
  • Winter Palace- The place where the Provisional Government of Russia was. Winter Palace was seized during the night of November 6 by the Bolshevik Forces. The government at Winter Palace quickly collapsed and there was little bloodshed.
  • Bloody Sunday- A peaceful protest of a lack of food outside Winter Palace quickly turned to blood shed as the Czar ordered his men to stop the demonstration. In all, 1000 people were killed in this demonstration. The Marchers stopped this because the marchers were singing, “God save the Czar”.

Famous Russian Revolution People:

Grigori Rasputin

Alexander Kerensky
V. I. Lenin

Leon Trotsky

Czar Nicholas II

View Russian Revolution and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.

Key Dates

December 1916: Grigori Rasputin, a Siberian man and adviser to the czar's wife Alexandra, is assassinated.
March 8, 1917: The working class women of Petrograd go on strike, causing many of the city's factories to shut down.
March 12, 1917: The Duma, the legislative body of Russia, creates a provisional government after Czar Nicholas II steps down.
March 15, 1917: Czar Nicholas II officially steps down as ruler of Russia.
April 1917: The Germans send Vladimir Lenin back to Russia in the hope he will create disorder.
October 1917: The Bolsheviks have about 240,000 members; this gives them confidence that they can overthrow the Russian government.
November 6, 1917: The seat of the Russian provisional government, called the Winter Palace, is captured by the Bolsheviks.
March 3, 1918: The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is signed, bringing peace to Russia despite the loss of some western provinces.
Mid-1918: The Russian civil war, fought between the Communist Red Army and the anti-Communist White Army, begins.
July 16, 1918: Czar Nicholas II and his family are killed at Ekaterinburg.
1921: The Russian civil war ends, leaving the Communists in control of the country.


  1. Czar Nicholas II: The last Czar of Russia, ruled from 1894-1919. The Winter Palace was the Czar’s home. Later him and his family are killed and their bodies are thrown in a mine.
  2. Alexandra Czarina: Nicholas II’s wife, she was a German Princess disliked by the Russians. She gave birth to four girls and one son. A quote of hers was “beloved, never to be forgotten teacher, savior, and mentor” this was what she said after her advisor Girgori Rasputin was assassinated.
  3. Grigori Rasputin: Known as the “Mad Monk”. He was a holy man and a faith healer; he was the advisor to the Czar and Czarina. He was later assassinated on December 1916.
  4. Peter Stolypin: The Russian Prime Minister. The people of Russia during this time called the hanging of political opponents and other figures the Stolypin’s Neckties.
  5. Alexander Kerensky: The head of the provisional government, he decided to carry on the ar to preserves Russia’s honor. This decision to remain in World War I was a major blunder. It satisfied no one during this time.
  6. V.I. Lenin: The leader of the Bolsheviks. He believed that only violent revolution could destroy the capitalist system that Russia was under during this time.
  7. Leon Trotsky: The genius who made the well-disciplined fighting force known as the Red Army what it was. It was largely due to his organizational genius. He was the commissar of war, he also reinstated the draft.
  8. Felix Dzerzhinsky: A Polish born revolutionary who joined the Bolshevik Party after getting out of prison in 1917. He was later appointed to be the head of the Cheka or the secret police force by Vladimir Lenin.
  9. Girogry Zinoviev: A prominent member of the Bolshevik Party. He was closely associated with Lev Kamenev and a close friend of Lenin during his year in exile. He served no role in the October Revolution but did have some influence on Lenin.
  10. Lev Kamenev: A prominent member of the Bolshevik Party who initially resisted Lenin’s call to hold a revolution sooner rather than later. He was later executed by Joseph Stalin in 1930.

Revolution Links:

Nicholas II This link explains that Nicholas II of Russia was the last Emperor of Russia. This site also explains that he was unliked during the end of his reign when it ended on March 15, 1917. He and his family were later murder by an oposing group.
Leon Trotsky This link explains that Leon Trotsky was a soviet who was very politically involved. He was the commissar of war amd this link tells of his harsh discipline. If a soldier deserted orders they executed on the shot.
Bolsheviks This link explains that the Bolsheviks were a faction of the Marxist party called the Russian Social Democrats. this faction was formed by V.I. Lenin and it was founded on democratic centralism. This tells of the beganing of the Bolshevik faction.
Soviets This link clearly explains what a soviet was. It explains that a soviet is a council or a Russian Political Organization. This explains that there were soviets all around Russia such as the Petrorad Soviet formed in March 1917.
Grigori Rasputin This link explains who Grigori Rasputin really was. It explains that Grigori was an uneducated Siberian peasant who claimed to the Russians that he was a holy man. Rasputin seemed to able to stop Nicholas II's son from bleeding.
Red Forces This link explains everything about the red force, like what they did and why they did it. It also explains different battles that occurred between the red forces and white forces during the Russian Civil War.
White Forces This site provides all of the essential information about the White Forces during the Russian Civil War. It explains who they fought, and why they fought these people. It also shows all the different battles that happened during this time.
Bloody Sunday This link provides all the information on bloody Sunday. It provides information on why this is called bloody Sunday and why exactly bloody Sunday erupted.
Timeline This site provides a timeline that shows all of the key events that happened during the Russian Revolution. It provides almost all of the dates you would need even some that aren't even important.
Overview This link provides basic information about the Russian Revolution. It doesn't go into great detail on to many subjects, but it does provide an overview of the battles, people, terms etc.


This video tells about the Russian Revolution and its effect on the world. The one on the right describes how and why the Russian Revolution took place.


This map shows the areas controlled by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution.