Russia was to become a constitutional monarchy. The czar would be controlled by the Parliament (Duma), that he had dissolved in 1916. In those days, the provisional government included, among others, prince Lvov, the historian Milyukov, and the social-democrat lawyer Kerensky, both liberals and moderate socialists. It was a liberal revolution that resulted in the proclamation of the Republic. The government pledged to control the war efforts more efficiently.
The February Revolution is about the people’s discontent with some of the decisions imposed by the authorities: the idea of food rationing cards. It was manifested by protests, and it gradually became a revolution. The lack of bread and of other basic foods together with the defeats on the front and the difficult working conditions created a situation that was impossible to control.
The Bolshevik revolution influenced the development of the First World War. Russia was eliminated from the war due to the internal events, the Bolshevik revolution and subsequently, due to the civil war. The Bolshevik revolution refers to the activity of Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik party. Together with the left wing revolutionaries, Lenin lead a bloody coup d’état against the provisionary government.
Czar Nicholas and his family were arrested. They were forced to stay under house arrest at their summer home in Tsarskoye Selo. From there, the imperial family members were deported to Tobolsk, a remote area in Siberia. After the revolution, they were taken to Ekaterinburg, their last residence. The Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, framed a plan to assassinate the czar and his entire family. The firing squad was led by Yakov Yurovsky. The family was executed at nighttime.
After taking power, the communists took a series of radical actions. The Decree on peace - a separate peace made with Germany in Brest-Litovsk. The Decree on land - the nationalization of the entire land resources of the country. The Decree on nationalities - their right to decide their own fate. Lenin had installed the proletarian dictatorship, based on the Red Army and the CEKA political police – The Extraordinary Commission to Fight Counter-revolution, subsequently NKVD, and KGB.
Russia made a separate peace with Germany, after its great pressure. After the peace, Russia loses about a third of its tillable area, which centralized about three quarters of the country industry. Starvation was one of the impacts of peace. Starvation mainly affected the workers in the great industrial centers, the main support of the Bolsheviks. The separate peace concluded by Lenin’s and Trotsky’s Russia allows the Germans to move numerous troops in the western battlefield.
The Bolsheviks were the winners of the attrition warfare. The war was fought between the new-formed Bolshevik government and the anti-Bolshevik forces. The unfavorable Treaty from Brest-Litovsk signed with Germany persuaded the anti-Lenin socialists to separate from the Bolsheviks and to join the voluntary army of the Whites under Anton Denikin’s command. After the Bolshevik’s coup, the main objective of the Soviet state was the acknowledgement of the new state of Russia, and of the Soviet Union.
The Bolsheviks lay the basis of Communist International abbreviated as Comintern, an organization meant to be an instrument to coordinate the communist activities around the world. Actually, this coordination had to be a blind submission of all communist organizations to Moscow. The declared purpose of the Comintern was to fight “by all means, and with the help of armed forces to overthrow the international bourgeoisie and to create an international soviet republic as a transition stage towards the full abolishment of the State”.
The leaders in Kremlin announced the establishment of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic, USSR. The USSR coat of arms was the symbol of the globe covered by another symbol of the hammer and sickle. On the top there was a red star with five corners surrounded by a wreath of grains tied with red ribbons. The inscription “Proletariats of the world, unite!” was written in the languages of the first countries of the USSR republic.
Lenin’s will included assessments and considerations on the qualities of the great Bolshevik leaders. Trotsky’s first mistake, after Lenin’s death, was the initiation of the fight against his party comrades who were mainly Stalin’s supporters – they were actually his opponents. Frighten by the Trotskyism incendiary speeches that attempted to the unity of the party, the members of the government, especially Kamenev and Zinoviev allied with Stalin. Separated, criticized, contested, and forced to accept the decisions of Stalin’s people, placed in decisional positions, Trotsky would live a period of decline that would end in exile.
Soon after Lenin’s death the fight for the succession to the party leadership began. Most of the Bolsheviks, Stalin’s supporters, feared that Trotsky might win as he was the most tenacious supporter of Lenin’s position. Trotsky faced the opposition of the “triumvirate” formed of Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, and Stalin who also got the support of Nikolai Buharin, of Mikhail Tomsky, the leader of the syndicates, and of Alexei Rykov, the head of the government.
A totalitarian system was installed in USSR, which depended on a powerful repressive system. “The repressions” within the party, started in the late 1920s, were extended over the country, aiming all the soviet citizens. The repressed people were deported in camps for the re-education through labor, intended for the Bolshevik’s political opponents. The Gulag, the Main Camp Administration was created. (Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei) – the term used to name the repressive system.
Stalin built an uncertain and unsafe climate within the party. Millions of prisoners, who were convicted after a brief trial and often in the absence of a law court, would face the horrors of the gulag and of the forced labor camps; hundreds of thousands of people were killed by the secret police. After the massacres of 1934-1935, Stalin became the absolute sovereign of the party. In the following years, the Soviet Union was seized with what was called “The Great Terror’, initiated by Stalin, which affected the entire population. Its dramatic character climaxed in the public trials between 1937 and 1939.