3. The Bolshevik's Seizure of Power


* Weaknesses and mistakes of Provisional Government * Activities of Lenin and the Bolsheviks * July Days and Kornilov Revolt * Planning of Trotsky * Key events
Note by ShreyaDas, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by ShreyaDas over 10 years ago

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Lenin arrived in Russia at the start of April 1917immediately denounced everything that was going on and insisted on a revolution- tried to convince the other Bolsheviks that they should revolt thenPublished the April Thesis- talked about Peace, Bread and Land= main issues in Russia at the timePeace: Russia was still in war and was failingBread: 

1.     Provisional Government weak (Government That’s Provisional Will Be Killed) – Government/ Terrible Conditions/ Peasants/ War/ Bolsheviks/ Kornilov. 2.     Slogans appealed to people – ‘Peace Bread Land’ & ‘All Power to the soviets’. Peace and Bread The war caused: - starvation - food shortages - high prices - less equipment and industry - deserters - low morale - lots of casualties 2. Not giving peasants land (Land) - peasants wanted to own their own land - Provisional Government didn't give it to them because they thought such a big decision should be made by the elected government - afraid for disintegration of army, if land is distributed, soldiers would leave to live on the land 3.     Propaganda – Party newspaper Pravda [means ‘Truth’] 4.     German Money – financed publicity campaigns [Germans supported Lenin to remove Russia from war]. 5.     Lenin – brilliant leader/ brilliant organiser/ single-minded (to overthrow government). 6.     Army – Red Guards/ well trained/ dedicated. 7.     Organisation – Central committee sent orders to soviets who sent them to factories/ Demanded total obedience.

Kerensky launched attack against Germans terrible defeat enormous demonstration in Petrograd  soldiers, sailors and workers protesting about the war turned to Bolsheviks (only non-war party) to lead Bolsheviks weren't ready rioting troops were sent in Kerensky made it look like Lenin was a german spy Lenin fled to Finland      Kerensky became prime minister Government let a lot of the political prisoners out and let the Bolsheviks continue Kornilov Revolt Kerensky appointed Kornilov to be head of army Krnilov tried to overthrow the government and started a revolt coming towards Petrograd Kerensky asked the Bolsheviks for help Bolsheviks agreed in condition of getting armed and freeing political prisoners Kornilovs troops were blocked by railway workers Bolsheviks looked like heroes

- had control of the entire army - made new rules stopping desertion and increasing the army size: - conscription for boys at 18 - deserters to be shot - any soldier without discipline/loyalty to be shot Trotsky stopped Lenin from giving up all control in Petrograd - had a train with many resources to help the people 

Nov. 6 – Red Guards take over bridges/telephone exchanges. Nov. 7 – Red Guards take over banks, government buildings, railway stations/ Winter Palace [shelled by Cruiser Aurora]/ Provisional Government leaders arrested. Nov. 8 – New Communist Government declared.

Events April 3, 1917 Lenin arrives in Petrograd April 7 April Theses published in the newspaper Pravda April 21 First Bolshevik demonstrations Key People Vladimir Lenin -  Revolutionary and intellectual; founded Bolshevik Party; returned to Russia from exile in April 1917 and advocated armed rebellion to establish Communist state Lenin’s Return to Russia During the February Revolution, Vladimir Lenin had been living in exile in Switzerland. Though historians disagree about specifics, they concur that the government of Germany deliberately facilitated Lenin’s return to his homeland in the spring of 1917. Without question, the German leadership did so with the intent of destabilizing Russia. The Germans provided Lenin with a guarded train that took him as far as the Baltic coast, from which he traveled by boat to Sweden, then on to Russia by train. There is also evidence that Germany funded the Bolshevik Party, though historians disagree over how much money they actually contributed. Lenin arrived in Petrograd on the evening of April 3, 1917. His arrival was enthusiastically awaited, and a large crowd greeted him and cheered as he stepped off the train. To their surprise, however, Lenin expressed hostility toward most of them, denouncing both the provisional government and the Petrograd Soviet that had helped to bring about the change of power. Although a limited sense of camaraderie had come about among the various competing parties ever since the February Revolution, Lenin would have nothing to do with this mentality. He considered any who stood outside his own narrow Bolshevik enclave to be his sworn enemies and obstacles to the “natural” flow of history. The April Theses In the days following his arrival, Lenin gave several speeches calling for the overthrow of the provisional government. On April 7, the Bolshevik newspaperPravda published the ideas contained in Lenin’s speeches, which collectively came to be known as the April Theses.From the moment of his return through late October 1917, Lenin worked for a single goal: to place Russia under Bolshevik control as quickly as possible. The immediate effect of Lenin’s attitude, however, was to alienate most other prominent Socialists in the city. Members of the Petrograd Soviet, and even many members of Lenin’s own party, wrote Lenin off as an anarchist quack who was too radical to be taken seriously. “All Power to the Soviets” In the meantime, Lenin pulled his closest supporters together and moved on toward the next step of his plan. He defined his movement by the slogan “All power to the soviets” as he sought to agitate the masses against the provisional government. In formulating his strategy, Lenin believed that he could orchestrate a new revolution in much the same way that the previous one had happened, by instigating large street demonstrations. Though the soviets were primarily a tool of the Mensheviks and were giving Lenin little support at the moment, he believed he could manipulate them for his own purposes. Failed Early Coup Attempts From the moment Lenin returned to Russia, he began to work toward seizing power for the Bolsheviks using every means available. The first attempt took place in late April, during a sharp disagreement between the provisional government and the Petrograd Soviet over the best way to get Russia out of World War I. As frustrated military personnel began to demonstrate in the streets, the Bolsheviks attempted to agitate the troops by demanding the ouster of the provisional government. However, no coup grew out of these demonstrations, and they dissipated without incident. During the spring and summer, the Bolsheviks would make several more attempts to bring about a second revolution by inciting the masses. Their repeated failures made it clear to Lenin that a repeat performance of the February Revolution was not to be and that a much more organized, top-down approach would be required. The Bolsheviks and the Military Lenin recognized that the current Russian leaders’ hesitation to pull the country out of World War I was a weakness that could be exploited. He knew that after four years of massive losses and humiliating defeats, the army was ready to come home and was on the verge of revolting. While other politicians bickered over negotiating smaller war reparations—and even over whether Russia might possibly maketerritorial gains by staying in the war longer—Lenin demanded that Russia exit the war immediately, even if it meant heavy reparations and a loss of territory. With this position, Lenin received growing support throughout the Russian armed forces, which would ultimately be key to his seizing power. Thus, he launched an aggressive propaganda campaign directed specifically at the Russian troops still serving on the front. Lenin’s Radicalism The period following Lenin’s return to Russia was a confusing time for RussianSocialists, who previously had held Lenin in high esteem and had believed he would unite them upon his return. Indeed, his radical positions caused greater division than ever among Russia’s various political groups. Lenin’s refusal to compromise backfired on him, however, and in the autumn he would need the support of these groups in order to secure power.Eventually, Lenin did backtrack temporarily on his earlier extreme positions, with the aim of garnering more support. In particular, he temporarily embraced thePetrograd Soviet. Although this effort did have some limited success, it failed to produce the level of support that Lenin had hoped for. Therefore, he decided to concentrate instead on defaming the provisional government and also building up connections within the military so that after the revolution, he could deal with all his critics by force.

Weaknesses of the Provisional Government

Activities of Lenin and the Bolsheviks

July Days and Kornilov Revolt

Planning of Trotsky

Key events

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