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Chapter I: The Vestiges of Empire

Czar Alexander II: 1855-1881



Czar Alexander II began his reign in 1855 when Russia was defeated by Britain, France and Piedmont in the Crimean War. He thought that the chief reason for Russian defeat was her backward economic and social system -- most of the labor force were serfs who were ignorant and superstitious. In order to strengthen the dynasty, he decided to carry out a number of reforms to modernize the archaic institutions of Russia.

According to the Emancipation Edict of March 3,1861, the serfs were not only freed but granted a certain portion of the noble's estates. The nobles who lost their estates were to be compensated by the government. To the government, the peasants were to pay an annual sum for 49 years, at the end of which time the land was to be their property. In the meantime, the land was not the private property of the peasants, but was to be kept by the village communities. The village communities would allot a share of the village land to each peasant; in return, each peasant was compelled to repay the annual sum to the government.

These arrangements proved very unsatisfactory to the peasants. Firstly, their share of the village land was often insufficient to keep them above the level of grinding poverty. (It has been estimated that only 1/3 of the total area of agricultural land was given to the village communities; while more than 1/3 was kept by the state and the Imperial family, and ¼ was till kept by the nobles.) Secondly, their annual sums to the government were often heavier than the dues (or rents) they had formerly paid to the nobles. Thirdly, the land of the village communities was often infertile because the nobles were allowed to give up the poorest parts of their estates to the peasants and kept the best parts for themselves. Fourthly, the village communities kept the village land as collective property. As the population of the village continued to increase, at each re-allotment of land the share of land granted to each peasant would become smaller and smaller. After the emancipation, discontent increased and peasant riots regularly broke out.

Before the reform, the administration of countryside was dominated by the nobles. The reform of 1864 created district and provincial assemblies (Zemstva). The members of the district assemblies were elected by the inhabitants of each rural district, peasants and nobles alike. Members of the district assemblies then elected delegates of the provincial assemblies. This system of election tended to cut down the power of the nobles and gave more political right to the non-noble classes.

The assemblies were responsible for the administration local education and public health, the upkeep of roads and bridges, the encouragement of industry and agriculture and the election of the Justices of Peace. This was the first experiment in self-government in Russia and encouraged the Russians to demand for more political power in the future. Some Zemstva members even thought of creating a constitutional monarchy to replace the Czar.

Like the Zemstva in the countryside, there were also the town councils in the towns. They were elected by property owners and taxpayers. The town councils were responsible for the general welfare of the towns. Thus town councils served the same function as the zemstva in providing valuable lessons in self-government for the Russians and became the hotbeds of liberalism, challenging the rule of the Czar.

The Czar also attempted to modernize Russian legal system by providing for open trial, the use of jury and the appointment of trained judges who were to be freed from government control. Other reforms included the introduction of a national conscription system, abolition of military colonies, a relaxation of the censorship of books and periodicals and an attempt to re-establish university autonomy and widen the basis of entry to secondary schools. The government also tried to stimulate economic development by building more railways and by giving financial subsidies to industry.

The intellectual classes thought that the reforms were too piecemeal and not radical enough. The emancipation of the serfs did not solve the land problem of the peasants. The creation of the Zemstva System did not lead to the formation of a national parliament in Russia. As a result of their disappointment with the reforms, the intellectual classes formed secret revolutionary societies, aiming to overthrow the Czar.

One such group was called the 'Black Partition' which continued to emphasize on propaganda and gradualism. The other group, influenced by Bakunin, Nechayev, was the 'Will of the People'. They mounted an all-out terrorist offensive against the Czarist government. They thought that as Russia was a centralized state, if the Czar and the important bureaucrats were killed the masses could be led by a revolutionary party to seize power. On March 13, 1881, Alexander II was assassinated by the members of the 'Will of the People'.





Czar Alexander III: 1881-1894





Alexander II was succeeded by his son, Alexander III. Alexander III was an even more autocratic Czar. He concluded that any reforms to save the monarchy were useless as the last Czar was assassinated by the revolutionaries. He was determined to cancel the past reforms and suppress the revolutionaries. More than that, he even attempted to restore Russia to the pre-1861 situation, with the nobles sharing the power with the Czar. He still held high the banner of 'Orthodoxy--Autocracy--Nationality'.

From 1881 to 1894, the Czar took repressive measures to uphold his autocratic rule. Immediately upon ascending the throne, the Czar passed the Temporary Regulations to deal with the 'Will of the People'. Any people threatening public order were arrested by the police, imprisoned, exiled and court-martialed. Amongst those executed was Alexander Ulyanov, the brother of Vladimir Lenin. The 'Will of the People' and terrorism died down as a result. Only a few revolutionaries remained.

The most important attempt to restore autocratic rule was taken in 1889. In that year, a new post called the 'land captain' was created. Each district had several land captains. They were selected from the local nobility. They held wide authority over the peasant communities in each district. Even the functions of the Justices of the Peace were transferred to them. In fact, the land captains, like the nobles of the pre-reform era, exercised omnipotent administrative and judicial authority in the Russian countryside (the local officials feared the land captains because they could be dismissed by them).
The creation of the 'land captain' was followed by a drastic revision of the structure of the Zemstva. The number of peasant delegates and westernized intellectuals was reduced. The representation of the nobles was markedly increased. The land captains were automatically members of the Zemstva. Moreover, approval of the provincial governors was required for all Zemstva employees --teachers, doctors, and lawyers. Zemstva's decisions were subject to review by the provincial governors and the minister of the interior. In 1892, the municipal government also raised the property requirement in order to limit the right to vote of the radical intellectuals and the lower classes.

On the surface, the autocratic Czar seemed to be successful in using repression to save autocracy. Yet the inadequacy of peasant landholdings remained to be a problem. The revolutionary movement was only driven underground. The revolutionaries were determined to make even greater efforts to overthrow Czardom. The first Russian Marxist group was formed in St. Petersburg in 1883. The attempt to overthrow Czardom was assisted by the proletariat, which gradually built up as a result of the economic reforms in 1860's and continued to grow throughout Alexander III's reign. It seemed that the reign following Alexander III should experience the first revolution in Russia. Alexander III died in 1894, leaving the throne to his son, Nicholas II.




Czar Nicholas II: 1894-1904





When Alexander III died in 1894, he was succeeded by his son, Nicholas II. He still believed that it was his sacred duty to uphold the principle of autocracy, but he was unsuited to be an autocrat. He was weak and indecisive in character. He easily succumbed to the influences of stronger personalities--the most important one was his wife, Princess Alexandra. She was most eager to preserve the full autocratic power for her husband, and later, for her son.

While the Czar clung steadfastly to the principle of autocracy, there was the emergence of more virulent discontented groups which presented a greater challenge to Czardom. The five discontented groups were: the proletariat class in the industrial towns, the Marxist-oriented revolutionary parties (Social Democrats and Social Revolutionaries), the middleclass political parties, the subversive groups among the national minorities and the peasants in the countryside.

1890 marked off the great breakthrough in Russian industrialization (which began in Alexander II's reign) as a result of French loans. (After signing the Dual Alliance with France in 1893, Russia was provided with huge French loans for industrial development.) The state took the leading role in building up, financing and managing nearly all the new industries. As a result, big industrial towns sprang up rapidly and the proletariat (the factory workers) became an important social class in Russian society. By 1914, their number probably reached about two and a quarter million. By 1917, Russia had about three million workers.

Although by 1914 Russia ranked fifth among the industrial nations of the world in terms of industrial production, the conditions of the workers were bad. Their wages were low, about 25 to 30 per cent of the British workers. Their working hours were long -- usually 15 hours a day. Their living conditions were intolerable--they were crowded together in barracks where there were no healthy and sanitary facilities. Conditions in the factories were also unsatisfactory there were no safety devices to protect the workers. Since 1882, the government had passed laws prohibiting employment of children under 12 and night work for women, laws creating a corps of factory inspectors and laws concerning labor contracts, but there was little improvement in the poor working conditions of the workers. As the owners of the factories had to sell their manufactured goods to overseas markets, they had to reduce the wages of the workers and so to keep the price of their goods low -- the Russian goods were often of inferior quality. Workers had no collective bargaining power they had no right to strike and or form trade unions.

To express their grievances, the workers organized strikes, even though they were illegal. In the 1890's the first organized mass strikes took place. The main aim of the strikes was betterment of the livelihood of the workers. As the 19th century came to a close, the main aims of many of the strikes were not only economic improvement but political reforms of the Czarist government as well. Their successes and failures would, more than anything else, shape the future of Russia for the better part of the next 2 decades.
 

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Let me say this: Great stuff Stoney, great stuff. :)
 

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Thanks guys for reading so far. This is all background. The alt-history will come a little later. I'm just laying some foundation.

Cthulhu: Nicholas reign will end when it is supposed to. :) 1904 is not the end, just a breaking point since the Russo-Japanese makes up a large part of the next chapter.

I'm mostly finished writing the next chapter, and it will probably be up sometime this evening.

Thanks again for reading! :)
 

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Chapter II: War and Revolution (1904-1905)

Chapter II: War and Revolution (1904-1905)

The Russo-Japanese War





The Russo-Japanese War developed out of the rivalry between Russia and Japan for dominance in Korea and Manchuria. In 1898 Russia had pressured China into granting it a lease for the strategically important port of Port Arthur, at the tip of the Liaotung Peninsula, in southern Manchuria. Russia thereby entered into occupation of the peninsula, even though, in concert with other European powers, it had forced Japan to relinquish just such a right after the latter's decisive victory over China in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95. Moreover, in 1896 Russia had concluded an alliance with China against Japan and, in the process, had won rights to extend the Trans-Siberian Railroad across Chinese-held Manchuria to the Russian seaport of Vladivostok, thus gaining control of an important strip of Manchurian territory.

However, though Russia had built the Trans-Siberian Railroad (1891-1904), it still lacked the transportation facilities necessary to reinforce its limited armed forces in Manchuria with sufficient men and supplies. Japan, by contrast, had steadily expanded its army since its war with China in 1894 and by 1904 had gained a marked superiority over Russia in the number of ground troops in the Far East. After Russia reneged in 1903 on an agreement to withdraw its troops from Manchuria, Japan decided it was time to attack.

The war began on Feb. 8, 1904, when the main Japanese fleet launched a surprise attack and siege on the Russian naval squadron at Port Arthur. In March the Japanese landed an army in Korea that quickly overran that country. In May another Japanese army landed on the Liaotung Peninsula, and on May 26 it cut off the Port Arthur garrison from the main body of Russian forces in Manchuria. The Japanese then pushed northward, and the Russian army fell back to Mukden after losing battles at Fu-hsien and Liao-yang, south of Mukden. In October the Russians went back on the offensive with the help of reinforcements received via the Trans-Siberian Railroad, but their attacks proved indecisive owing to poor military leadership.

The Japanese had also settled down to a long siege of Port Arthur after several very costly general assaults on it had failed. The garrison's military leadership proved divided, however, and on Jan. 2, 1905, in a gross act of incompetence and corruption, Port Arthur's Russian commander surrendered the port to the Japanese without consulting his officers and with three months' provisions and adequate supplies of ammunition still in the fortress.

The final battle of the land war was fought at Mukden in late February and early March 1905, between Russian forces totaling 330,000 men and Japanese totaling 270,000. After long and stubborn fighting and heavy casualties on both sides, the Russian commander, General A.N. Kuropatkin, broke off the fighting and withdrew his forces northward from Mukden, which fell into the hands of the Japanese. Losses in this battle were exceptionally heavy, with approximately 89,000 Russian and 71,000 Japanese casualties.

The naval Battle of Tsushima finally gave the Japanese the upper hand in the conflict. The Japanese had been unable to secure the complete command of the sea on which their land campaign depended, and the Russian squadrons at Port Arthur and Vladivostok had remained moderately active. But on May 27-29, 1905, in a battle in the Tsushima Straits, Admiral Togo Heihachiro's main Japanese fleet destroyed the Russian Baltic Fleet, which, commanded by Admiral Z.P. Rozhestvensky, had sailed in October 1904 all the way from the Baltic port of Liepaja to relieve the forces at Port Arthur and at the time of the battle was trying to reach Vladivostok. (See Tsushima, Battle of.) Japan was by this time financially exhausted, but its decisive naval victory at Tsushima, together with increasing internal political unrest throughout Russia, where the war had never been popular, brought the Russian government to the peace table.

President Theodore Roosevelt of the United States served as mediator at the peace conference, which was held at Portsmouth, New Hampshire from August 9 through September 5, 1905. In the resulting Treaty of Portsmouth, Japan gained control of the Liaotung Peninsula (and Port Arthur) and the South Manchurian railroad (which led to Port Arthur), as well as half of Sakhalin Island. Russia agreed to evacuate southern Manchuria, which was restored to China, and Japan's control of Korea was recognized. Within two months of the treaty's signing, a revolution compelled the Russian tsar Nicholas II to issue the October Manifesto, which was the equivalent of a constitutional charter.

The Russian Empire became the first European power defeated by an Asian power in modern times. The people of Russia were outraged at the defeat and rose up in revolution.



The Russian Revolution of 1905





When Port Arthur fell (the most crushing of the series of defeats in the Far East which determined the outcome of the Russo-Japanese War), discontent reached almost the breaking point. There was much labor unrest in St. Petersburg due to a rise in prices of food and other daily necessities.

In such an atmosphere, on January 22, 1905, a priest, Father Gapon, who was one of the organizers of the pro-government trade unions, decided to lead a group of workers to present a petition to the Czar at the Winter Palace. The petition included political and economic demands. Political demands were the calling of an elected Duma, freedom of speech and assembly, guarantee of fair trials and an amnesty for political prisoners. Economic demands were more labor legislation, the eight-hour day, a reduction in indirect taxes and the introduction of a graduated income tax. The petition also demanded to end the war immediately. The petition was signed by 135,000 persons.

Gapon hoped that the Czar would grant reforms to lessen the discontent of the workers. Gapon's group was followed by a vast (about 150,000) but peaceful and orderly crowd. The crowd carrying the portraits of the Czar and of the Orthodox saints assembled on the square in front of the Palace. At this moment, the crowd still thought that they were the children of the Czar who would redress their grievances. Suddenly the guards of the Winter Palace fired on the crowd, more than a hundred persons were killed, and several hundreds wounded. After this bloody slaughter, the Russians lost their age-old faith in the Czar as the great guardian of his people.

In all social groups in all parts of the country revolt flared up. About three million workers went on strike. The liberals formed the Union of Unions and clamored for a constituent assembly. One novel feature of the revolutionary movement was the emergence of the first nationwide peasant organization, the All-Russian Peasant's Union.

In August 1905, the Czar made some concessions. A Duma with advisory power (but not legislative power) elected chiefly by the rich people and the peasants was promised. Only the rightwing liberals were contented. To the peasants, political concessions meant very little. They continued with violent peasant riots and seized land from the landlords. The workers were also discontented because they would not have any vote in the proposed Duma.

A wave of strikes by the workers developed into a general strike from September 20 to October 30, 1905. The swiftness of the strike surprised the revolutionaries. The strikers were organized by the discontented workers themselves and not by the revolutionaries. The workers and peasants had learnt some organizing abilities through their strikes and riots before 1905. Strikers set up soviets, or workers' councils to direct the strikes. Soviets were formed first in St. Petersburg, then in Moscow and other industrial centers. The Bolsheviks and Mensheviks attempted to control the workers' movement by competing for the leadership of the soviets. The soviets fell mostly under Mensheviks' influence. This was the first, greatest, most thoroughly carried out and most successful strike in Russian history. The whole country was paralyzed.

The advisers of the Czar saw that the situation was hopeless. Witte, a minister of the Czarist government, persuaded the Czar to grant a constitution on October 30, 1905. The Czar signed a Manifesto promising (a) certain fundamental civil liberties: freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of worship and freedom from arrest; (b) certain political liberties: a broad and general suffrage, calling of an elected Duma with legislative power -- no laws would be promulgated without the approval of the Duma. By a stroke of pen, Russia became a constitutional monarchy. By the end of 1905, the Revolution was over.

Although the political parties shared the same ultimate goal of overthrowing the existing order--Czardom, they were divided from one another. The Liberals, the Mensheviks, the Bolsheviks and the Social Revolutionaries had different political programs. In 1905 each political party made its own struggles against Czardom. Thus the Czarist government could suppress these political parties one by one. Besides the division between the political parties, there was much dissension within each of the political parties: the right-wing Liberals disagreed with the radical Liberals, the Mensheviks disagreed with the Bolsheviks, and the moderate Social Revolutionaries disagreed with the radical Social Revolutionaries. The internal division within each party gravely weakened the strength of its struggle against Czardom.

The chief driving force of the 1905 Revolution was the masses. But the masses were not properly led by the political parties to seize power. Both the Social Democrats and Social Revolutionaries had wrong conceptions of the role they should take in the 1905 Revolution. They believed that the bourgeois revolution should precede the socialist revolution and that they should wait for the liberals to establish a bourgeois government in 1905. Thus they did not make use of the potential revolutionary strength of the masses to capture power from the Czarist government as soon as the 1905 Revolution broke out. But the Liberals were too weak in number that they could not become an independent political force to replace the Czarist government.

The political programmes of the political parties failed to secure wholehearted support from the masses because their programmes did not represent the wishes of the masses. The Liberals did not include social and economic reforms in their programme. The programme of the Social Democrats advocated the establishment of a Socialist State through a class struggle but few of the workers understood revolutionary theories and they just wanted a better economic livelihood. The Social Revolutionaries advocated the nationalization of land, but the peasants just wanted the division of large estates among themselves. In 1917 the Bolsheviks could secure temporary support from the masses because Lenin changed part of the Bolshevik program. He promised 'Land and Peace' to the people.

With the promulgation of the October Manifesto, concerted opposition to the government melted away. The landed proprietors, the liberals and the less radical socialists were at least partially satisfied. They were afraid of going too far. Only the radical socialists, radical workers and hungry peasants continued the revolution.

The dynasty retained the support of the bureaucracy, the major part of the army and the nobility. Thus the Czar was able to suppress the strikes and the revolts after the division had appeared among the opposition forces. In short, the opposition forces, divided, unprepared to seize power, unable to represent the wishes of the peasants and the workers, failed to overthrow the decadent and demoralized dynasty, which retained the support of the nobles, the bureaucrats and the army.

The defeat in the war with Japan had given to the autocratic government its coup de grace. The 'slaughter' of more than a hundred persons on Red Sunday destroyed the image of the Czar as the father and the great guardian of his people. Even the conservative peasants had no faith in the Czar as the reformer of all things. As the Czar tightened his grip on the country, like sand, it began to slip through his fingers.
 

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Great last sentence there, summed things up really well. Hmmm, one wonders where tings will deviate, and how far?......
 

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The deviation is coming soon. :D I'm working on the events leading up to 1917 and the Civil War. I am trying to be careful to make teh deviation plausible. :)

Not to worry, once the actual AAR starts, the pace will pick up somewhat.

Thanks for tuning in!
 

Sir Humphrey

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Plausability rocks. :)
 

unmerged(28944)

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My interest has been touched and I find myself eagerly awaiting the plausible deviation... what will it be, what will it be?

*subscribed and hunkered down for the deviation arrival!*
 
Jul 29, 2002
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Civil war? So there's actually going to be one here?
 
Jul 29, 2002
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Judging by the title, an advanced industrial one.
 

Stonewall

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Chapter III: The Great War

Prelude to War: 1905-1914



No sooner had the 1905 Revolution died out than Nicholas II thought of withdrawing the liberal concessions from the people. Before the first Duma met, the government promulgated the constitution the Fundamental Laws. The Czar was described as 'the supreme autocratic power' in the constitution. He retained huge executive and legislative powers, including the control of the army and foreign policy, the right to dissolve the Duma and to dismiss his ministers.

The Duma was to consist of the Upper and Lower Chambers. Half of the members of the Upper Chamber were appointed by the Czar. Although the Lower Chamber was elected by wide male suffrage and secret voting, the elaborate system of indirect voting favored the wealthier class. The voters first voted for the electors who then voted for those further electors who could finally vote for the members of the Duma. This system of election favored the wealthier class who had the leisure to take part in a series of elections. The wealthier class was usually conservative in their political outlook and tended to support the Czar. Thus, the autocratic power of the Czar was well-protected by the undemocratic provisions of the constitution.

The First Duma took place in May. Even though indirect voting favored the wealthier and politically conservative classes (The conservative classes comprised the landowners, rich merchants and pro-Czarist supporters), the majority of the people elected to sit in the First Duma was anti-government. The First Duma consisted of the members of the following groups: the Constitutional Democrats (Cadets - The Cadets comprised liberals who demanded the establishment of a parliament, with legislative power. Their views were very much like those of the British liberals.), the Octobrists (The Octobrists were the rightwing liberals. They were well-satisfied with the October Manifesto and would not ask for more political rights.), the national groups, the labor group, the peasant members (The national groups represented the national minorities. The labor group and the peasant members represented those peasants and workers who did not join the Social Revolutionary Party and the Social Democratic Party), a few Social Democrats (The socialist parties boycotted the first election because they had not forgotten the suppression of St. Petersburg and the Moscow Soviets. But a few Social Democrats disobeyed the order of the Party and took part in the elections.) The largest party was the Cadets. These political groups and parties demanded ministerial responsibility and full control of all affairs of the state, including taxation. In other words, they wanted a constitutional monarchy. The Czar promptly dissolved the Duma. Altogether the First Duma lasted for 73 days.

In the election of the Second Duma the Czar intimidated many anti-government voters to give up their candidature or their right to vote. But intimidation was useless. Many antigovernment candidates were elected to the Second Duma. Most threatening to the Czar, 65 Social Democrats were elected. The Social Democrats made demands to liberalize the Czarist government. As a result, the Second Duma met the same fate as the First Duma. Within 3 months (March-June, 1907), it was again dissolved by the Czar.

The Czar was determined not to face a rebellious Duma again. He altered the franchise to deprive many of the peasants and non-Russian nationalities of the vote and to give so many votes to the wealthy landowners as to assure that 60 percent of the seats of the Duma were taken up by them. (According to the government decree of 1907, the Duma should be elected on a class basis by a number of electoral colleges. The wealthier landowners were to choose 60 per cent of the electors, the peasants 22 per cent, the merchants 15 per cent, and the working men 3 per cent.) Because of the new franchise system, most of the men elected into the Duma were government supporters.

The Third Duma (1907-1912) and the Fourth Duma (1912-1917) served their period of office of five years. They were dominated by the Octobrists and the Monarchists. The Cadets and the handful of socialists occupied about one quarter of the seats in the Duma. As the Duma grew conservative in its composition, the dissatisfaction among the Russian masses found little chance of expression in the Duma. Many of the Russian people turned against Czardom again.

Despite the promises of the October Manifesto that civil liberties would be granted to the people, a policy of repression was adopted by Stolypin, Prime Minister from 1906 to 1911. He was notorious for persecuting the Jews and harsh treatment of rioters in the countryside. To punish the Finnish nationalists, he deprived Finland of independence. Many Social Democrats, including Lenin, were exiled.

In order to consolidate his autocratic rule, Czar Nicholas II had attempted to remove the discontent of the peasants by adopting some agrarian reforms. The peasants were always discontented with the payment of redemption dues (i.e. the annual payments the peasants paid to the government for 49 years) and the insufficient amount of land they received during the Emancipation of the Serfs in 1861.

Shortly after the 1905 Revolution, the Czar cancelled the redemption dues. When Stolypin became the Prime Minister in 1906, he abolished the communal system. In each village community, the peasants could take their own share of land as their private property. The more able peasants were allowed to buy additional land from the less able peasants.

The agrarian reform of 1906 pleased the more able peasants but not the less able peasants. The less able peasants, because of their poor management of their land, were often forced to give up their land as years went by. These landless peasants were ready to take part in any revolutionary outbreaks if they came.

After 1905, Russian industrialization made great and rapid progress. Foreign trade grew rapidly. The wages and the savings of the workers also increased. The workers had a better chance to receive education. (From 1905 to 1909 there were fewer strikes and the active membership of the revolutionary groups also declined. But increased prosperity, by making the struggle for existence easier, led the workers to think more of meaningful existence--a prosperous living and political reform.) But the workers had other grievances. Trade unions were still strictly controlled. Strikes were regarded as illegal. Few factory laws were passed to improve the poor working conditions of the workers. As a result, some workers held secret meetings to discuss revolutionary ideas. In the two and a half years before the outbreak of the war, there were more than six thousand strikes. Terrorism also revived. Stolypin was assassinated by one of the terrorists.

In his declining years, the Czar was more and more influenced by his wife, the Czarina Alexandra. She believed that without autocratic rule Czardom would collapse. Czarina Alexandra wanted to pass the throne intact to the Czarevitch. The latter suffered from the disease of hemophilia. Only the peasant monk, Rasputin, could stop him from bleeding and so Rasputin was respected by the Czarina as her greatest friend. Rasputin made use of his influence with the Czarina to strengthen her determination to preserve the autocratic monarchy. Then he pursuaded the Czarina to appoint his own favorites to hold all the important offices in the government. For example, Iran Goremykin was appointed Prime Minister, even though he was an ignorant reactionary. The Czar also distrusted any able men. He dismissed Witte and distrusted Stolypin even though both were able Prime Ministers. The Romanov dynasty became a symbol of corrupt and decadent government.

In short, on the eve of the First World War, the Romanov Dynasty was no longer supported by the Russian people. Almost every class was estranged from the dynasty and its fall was almost certain. (During 1906-1914, many revolutionary leaders (including Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin) were in exile becasue of the repression policy of the Czar. But they maintained some control over the labor movements in Georgia, the Urals and northern Russia.)

Russia was a powder keg on the eve of the First World War, liable to explode at any time. That is took as long as it did to finally ignite was a miracle.

World War I: 1914-1917



Because Russia was the least industrialized power in Europe, her army was ill-equipped and poorly prepared for the war. Many generals were old and ignorant. As early as 1914, Russian armies suffered a heavy defeat in the battle of Tannenberg. German armies overran Poland, most of the Baltic states and vast areas of the Ukraine and Belarus. When the Czar himself acted as the commander-in-chief in the field in 1915, more battles were lost. The Czar was in fact ignorant of military affairs and gave wrong advice in military strategy. Terrible human losses were recorded. By late 1915, casualties reached 3,800,000 (in 1917 Russian casualties were 9,750,000). As a result of heavy defeats and losses of lives, Russia's position was already hopeless by 1916. Defeatism grew rapidly among the army and there was mass desertion from the army.

In 1915 when the Czar had left the capital to act as commander-in-chief in the field, the home administration was left to Alexandra who depended on Rasputin. He filled the ministries with his own favorites. To please the Czarina, he encouraged pro-German sentiments in the country. Rasputin's administration was detested by all Russians. By the end of 1916, even the Russian nobles could not tolerate the evil influence of Rasputin in undermining the entire official civil service. They killed him. The liberals in the Duma were not satisfied with the assassination of Rasputin only. They were determined to extract more political concessions from the Czar. Even though they did not like a revolution, they would be in sympathy with a revolution, if it came.

Prices rose high because all kinds of goods and food became scarce during the war. In general, the price rose by 500-700 per cent between 1914 and 1917. The scarcity of food and all kinds of goods were due to the following reasons: (i) Russia was cut off from outside aid by the blockade of the Central Powers; (ii) the transport system was inadequate; (iii) the devastation of the wheat-growing Ukraine early in the war; (iv) the factories had to manufacture military goods to meet the needs of the unnaturally large army. (Because Russia was industrially backward, she found it necessary to recruit a large army to fight against Germany so that her superiority in numbers could compensate her deficiency in equipment. By 1917 about fifteen million were recruited, equal to 37% of the male population of working age. This led to labor shortages and less production in factories.) Because of the exorbitant prices of bread, many Russian people were hungry. Hunger led to waves of strikes of workers who cried out not only economic demands but also political demands: "Down with the Czar". The Czar was hated by all his people in 1917. His fall from power was inevitable.
 
Last edited:
Jul 29, 2002
4.904
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Who do you think you are kidding Mr Romanov?

This is interesting. One assumes then by this point that the Whites will win in the Civil War, abnd there is some kind of 'restoration'.