Topic outline

    • Socialism in Europe and the Russian Revolution

      Q107. What were the events preceding the 1905 revolution in Russia?

      Ans. The following events preceded the 1905 revolution in Russia:

      1. The year 1904 was a particularly bad one for Russian workers. Prices of essential goods rose so quickly that real wages declined by 20 per cent. 
      2. The membership of workers associations rose dramatically. When four members of the Assembly of Russian Workers, which had been formed in 1904, were dismissed at the Putilov Iron Works, there was a call for industrial action.
      3. 110,000 workers in St Petersburg went on strike demanding a reduction in the working day to eight hours, an increase in wages and improvement in working conditions.
      4. When the procession of workers led by Father Gapon reached the Winter Palace it was attacked by the police and the Cossacks. Over 100 workers were killed and about 300 wounded. The incident was known as Bloody Sunday.
      5. Strikes took place all over the country and universities closed down when student bodies staged walkouts, complaining about the lack of civil liberties. 
      6. Lawyers, doctors, engineers and other middle-class workers established the Union of Unions and demanded a constituent assembly.


      Q108. What were the conditions in Russia during the First World War?
      Discuss the conditions in Russia during the First World War.

      Ans. The following were the conditions in Russia during the First World War were:

      1. In Russia, the war was initially popular and people rallied around Tsar Nicholas II. As the war continued, though, the Tsar refused to consult the main parties in the Duma. Support wore thin. Anti- German sentiments ran high, as can be seen in the renaming of St Petersburg a German name as Petrograd. 
      2. Russias armies lost badly in Germany and Austria between 1914 and 1916. As they retreated, the Russian army destroyed crops and buildings to prevent the enemy from being able to live off the land. The destruction of crops and buildings led to over 3 million refugees in Russia. The situation discredited the government and the Tsar. Soldiers did not wish to fight such a war.
      3. The war also had a severe impact on industry. Russias own industries were few in number and the country was cut off from other suppliers of industrial goods by German control of the Baltic Sea. Industrial equipment disintegrated more rapidly in Russia than elsewhere in Europe.
      4. Able-bodied men were called up to the war. As a result, there were labour shortages and small workshops producing essentials were shut down. 
      5. Large supplies of grain were sent to feed the army. For the people in the cities, bread and flour became scarce. By the winter of 1916, riots at bread shops were common.


      Q109. Write a few lines to show what you know about:
      1. kulaks
      1. the Duma
      1. women workers between 1900 and 1930
      1. the Liberals
      1. Stalin’s collectivisation programme

      Ans. Kulaks 

      It was the Russian term used for well-to-do peasants. By 1927-1928, the towns in Soviet Russia were facing an acute problem of grain supplies. Stalin believed that Kulaks and traders in the countryside were holding stocks in the hope of higher prices. Kulaks were thought to be partially responsible for the shortage of grains. As to develop modern farms, and run them along industrial lines with machinery, it was necessary to eliminate kulaks, take away land from peasants, and establish state-controlled large farms.

      the Duma

      During the 1905 Revolution, the Tsar allowed the creation of an elected consultative Parliament or Duma. The Tsar dismissed the first Duma within 75 days and the re-elected second Duma within three months. He did not want any questioning of his authority or any reduction in his power. He changed the voting laws and packed the third Duma with conservative politicians. Liberals and revolutionaries were kept out.

      women workers between 1900 and 1930

      Women made up 31 per cent of the factory labour force by 1914, but they were paid less than men. In many factories, women led the way to strikes.

      This came to be called the International Womens Day.

      the Liberals

      One of the groups which looked to change society were the liberals. Liberals wanted a nation which tolerated all religions. They argued for a representative, elected parliamentary government, subject to laws interpreted by a well-trained judiciary that was independent of rulers and officials. They felt men of property mainly should have the vote. They also did not want the vote for women.

      Stalin’s collectivisation programme

      From 1929, the Party forced all peasants to cultivate in collective farms (kolkhoz). The bulk of land and implements were transferred to the ownership of collective farms. Peasants worked on the land, and the kolkhoz profit was shared. Enraged peasants resisted the authorities and destroyed their livestock. Those who resisted collectivisation were severely punished. Many were deported and exiled. In spite of collectivisation, production did not increase immediately.