A great struggle went on in Russia in the early 1900s. The Russian people were being oppressed by the Czarist government, just as African-Americans in the early 20th century were being oppressed by segregation. Just as Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, the Russian people dreamed of revolution. One day they might be able to own their own farms and their own cows. They had a chance to make all this happen one day. The city of Petrograd burst with protest, and the workers opened the doors to freedom and prosperity. How long the feeling of hope would last, they did not know. One thing was certain though, the Revolution changed Russian history forever.
In the early 20th century, Russia was a land where the majority of the people were poor. Russia was under the autocratic rule of the Czar. Czar Nicholas II had absolute power, and could do whatever he wished. He could promote someone to the highest ranks in the army, or demote someone to the lowest ranks. Although he could do anything, he had his problems. He was an inadequate military leader and did nothing to help the growing peasant population. He even admitted that he “knew absolutely nothing about matters of state” (Kort 25). In 1904 he sent Russia to war with Japan. Russia suffered over 400,000 casualties. The population of Russia was not very happy with this defeat in a war they did not want to fight. Prices of bread, which average people could already scarcely afford, skyrocketed. The people revolted against the government in 1905. A big player in the revolution was a group known as the Social Democrats. The Czar ended the rebellion relatively quickly, but already a sign of the Czar’s waning power began to emerge. He signed the October Manifesto which promised civil liberties, and set up a Duma. The Duma was a group of elected officials who had to approve every law being passed. Russia was now a constitutional monarchy.
The October Manifesto “fractured the ranks of the revolutionaries” (Thackeray 71). Most of the people were happy with their new freedoms. Only the most radical, mostly the Social Democrats, wanted the Czar to be completely overthrown. They no longer had enough people for a complete uprising. The Social Democrats had already been loosely split into two groups, the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, for a number of years. These groups were now moving further apart from each other. The Bolsheviks believed that the proletariats should revolt and could rise straight to power. The Mensheviks were more moderate and believed that before the lower-class could rule, there would have to be a transition period of middle-class rule (Halliday 44-45).
In 1914 Russia joined WWI. This turned out worse than the Russo-Japanese War. The Czar did not plan the war well at all. “25 percent of soldiers sent into battle lacked rifles (they were told to keep an eye on their comrades who were armed and to grab their weapons when they fell)” (Thackeray 91). Millions of Russian...