The Seizure of Power by the Bolsheviks in 1917

The Seizure of Power by the Bolsheviks in 1917

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The Seizure of Power by the Bolsheviks in 1917

How did the Bolsheviks seize power of the Russia Empire in 1917? They
were able to do this as a result of taking advantage of the current
political and social situations in the country at the time. Through
such decisions as disbanding the army and siding with the majority,
the peasants, though such promises as land, food, equality and peace.
Through such events Lenin was able to take full control for the
Bolsheviks.

The Bolsheviks started off, in 1903, as the main minority of the
Social Democratic Labour Party. As all anti-tsarist groups the party
was illegal. The party was based upon the beliefs of Karl Marx, a
German writer and revolutionary, who believed a revolution could only
be started within the workforce of the major cities. Lenin believed
strongly in these morals and used them as a guide to his goal of
revolution.

The party continued to protest against the current government in
Russia and over time the political, social and economic discontent and
the famous event know as 'Bloody Sunday', where the imperial guards
shot and killed the protesting people of St.Petersburg, eventually
pulled more followers over to the party.

After these events, which were known as the 1905 revolution, the
October Manifesto occurred. This gave the people a lot more rights and
a national parliament, the Duma. All seemed well, but there was one
problem. The Mensheviks, who were the less radical majority of the
Social Democratic Labour Party, argued that the revolution had gone
far enough, however the Bolsheviks insisted that it go further until a
new, soviet state was established. Thus, the party split up and formed
two separate groups. Also, since the revolution hadn't worked, many of
the revolution's leaders, such as Lenin, were forced to go into exile
abroad.

During his time in Switzerland, in exile, Lenin wrote his thoughts in
his revolutionary newspaper, "Pravda". Through this Lenin was able to
show his supporters their mistakes in the first revolution and what

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they needed to do for a second one to work. These ideas helped the
Soviets organize themselves better, which paved the way for 1917.

Even with the new reforms the Tsarist government made, it wasn't good
enough for the people of Russia. Further discontent spread through out
the country and in 1917 the second revolution occurred. Compared with
the first revolution in 1905, this was massive. The Tsar, Nicolas II,
was forced to abdicate; Russia became a republic under the control of
a liberal government. This was not to be the last revolution though.

In April, 1917, Lenin returned home. As soon as he arrived he began
organising the Bolshevik opposition towards the newly founded
parliament. Although not extremely popular at the time, Lenin's
excellent organisation, and promises of a better life gained him more
and more support. Soon he was joined in his effort by Trotsky, a
former Menshevik, who helped him organize the movement.

Lenin thought his chance had come in July. There was an uprising
against the government and the Bolsheviks took advantage of the
situation and supported the protesters. In the end though, the
uprising was suppressed and many Bolsheviks, including Trotsky were
imprisoned. Again, Lenin left for overseas.

While Lenin was hiding out in Finlandthe head of the provisional
government tried to win more support by resigning and placing Kerensky
as the new prime minister of a new government, mainly made up of
Mensheviks and social revolutionaries. This satisfied the people at
first, but soon the armed forces tried to overthrow Kerensky. Worried,
Kerensky turned to the Bolsheviks for support. He released Bolshevik
prisoners and gave them much power. This enabled the Bolsheviks to
start taking control. Realising another chance had come, Lenin wrote
to his comrades, telling them to organize a second revolution.

In October the second revolution worked. Lenin came back from Finland
and organised, with Trotsky, the new plan to take control. Trotsky
organised a small army and stormed the Winter Palace, home to the
weakening Kerensky government. The Bolsheviks then captured Moscow and
were in basic control of Russia.

Although Lenin had control he wasn't completely supported by the
people of Russia. To gain support Lenin made a secret police force,
which was in charge of erasing any opposition to the party. The
Bolsheviks were also renamed the Communists. Freedom of press was
cancelled, unless you supported the Communist cause. The government
took control of all ways of life. Lenin also made peace with the
Germans as he knew if war continued the revolution wouldn't fully
work. Although some were angry with the losses Russia had in the
treaty, the Bolsheviks were in control, though it was not a steady
form of control. There was still widespread opposition and soon a
civil war broke out.

Straight after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, a civil war
broke out. This war was between the communists (Reds) and the
anti-communists (Whites). This war lasted for 3 years from 1918 -
1921. At first the Reds had little land and were close to being
demolished by the Whites. But as a result of Trotsky's excellent
leadership the communists, by 1921, ran most of the country.
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