The Effects Of World War 1 On Russian Society By February 1917 History Essay

2949 words - 12 pages

Esther Kirk
To what extent was the First World War responsible for the political changes that had taken place in Russia by February 1917? With reference to the years 1894-1917.
By 1917 many political changes had been made in Russia, most notably by 1917 Nicholas II had abdicated as Tsar and ultimately autocracy had fallen as a result. With this, a key moment of the beginning of the revolution had happened, in which the rank and file officers had taken the side of the people, turning against Nicholas leading to a mutiny on the side of the people. As well at this time, the government lost control of Petrograd, the key area where the effects of the war were being felt hardest, and importantly most of the revolutionary activity was taking place. Importantly a provisional government was beginning to be set up in the Duma, with the liberals and soviet working together, to agree on a plan of action for the war. In this, many historians would argue that the war was a catalyst for the changes in Russia, importantly the political, economic and social facts became responsible as a result of the war.
On the one hand we can see that the war had a great impact on the political issues surrounding the changes in Russia. Firstly, the war itself was in effect a short-term factor that played into the entirety of the political changes that were happening in Russia in 1914. Nicholas’ management of the war came under fire when looking at the reason for political change. The Tsar was determined to win the war and to rebuild Russia’s failing war effort. This meant as a result of Nicholas’ attempts to rebuild Russia’s name instead of focusing on the war itself and the issues that would arise from the impacts of war, many felt that this tactic by Nicholas of only having the reputation of Russia in mind rather than the actual war itself was not the most efficient way to manage one of the largest wars to date. Nicholas was perceived to generally be a poor Tsar, and as a result his tactics for war, by those closest to him, were perceived to be not the greatest. Majorly when Nicholas decided he wanted to go to the front line in 1915 many of his advisers told him not to, but he didn’t listen and went to join the front line. It is arguably here when Nicholas takes himself out of Russia that he facilitates the political changes that will occur.
Another factor that arises as a result of the war and become an issue for political change is Nicholas’ management of the army. Troops that were sent to fight, the majority being peasants were largely unequipped and not as well-trained as those of the German troops they were fighting. The point that caused the most anger was however, the army’s poor and largely inefficient management. Officers and those of a higher rank were most likely to be the Russian gentry, and as a result were not there to manage due to their competence, but as a result of their class. However, in the 1850s Alexander II hadn’t tried to change this and allow for...

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