The Causes of the Russian Revolution in March 1917
There were many causes to explain the outbreak of the Russian
Revolution in March 1917. Some of these can be defined as long term
causes as their origin goes way back to pre-revolutionary times.
Others are short-term reasons or even immediate effects, which act as
the last spark, to bring the tense situation out of control. In this
essay I will be looking at some of these long and short-term causes in
The long term causes lead back to the time between the end of the 1905
revolution and the beginning of the war. What they are can be
summarized as the economic, social and political problems within
Russia. Economic causes are probably the most obvious. There was an
unbearable poverty amongst a large amount of peasants. The poorer,
non-land-owning peasants have lost their jobs shortly after the 1905
revolution due to the new creation of a middle, land-owning class.
Furthermore the farming methods were still old fashioned and life
barely rose above the starvation level. The peasants were dissatisfied
with the situation, leading to social difficulties within Russia.
Working conditions for both peasants and the working class have barely
improved, resulting an urge for change among many Russians. Their most
important desire was the longing for a new leader to replace the Tsar.
Although the creation of the Duma has promised political changes, few
of those proposals have actually become real. The Duma had little
power to enforce new laws or make important decisions. The Tsar always
had the final word. Therefore the people living in Russia were not
heard through the Duma, and the Tsar together with the idea of
absolutism still existed.
The main short-term reason was undoubtedly the First World War and
everything which concluded from it. It had major effects on the way
people in Russia were thinking. The war was a very manipulating
factor. If things went well, the atmosphere was good and support for
the Tsar high. However when the Russians were loosing people's anger
against the Tsar arose. Unfortunately, after the first strike of
enthusiasm, the Russians went through one defeat after another. The
backward economic condition of the country made it unable to sustain
the war effort against powerful, industrialized Germany. This was
partly due to the fact that Russian industry lacked the required
equipment to arm some 15 million men who were sent into war.
Back at home people were facing problems too. Many peasants were sent
into the war. Accordingly there was a lack of farm workers causing
serious food shortages. In addition the railway system was used to
supply the army at the front with essential goods and could therefore
not send enough food into the cities. Owing to the lack of food prices
went sky high and even a...