1. What were the social, economic and political conditions in Russia before 1905?
• Social Conditions: At the beginning of the twentieth century, the vast majority of Russia’s people were agriculturists. About 85 per cent of the Russian empire’s population earned their living from agriculture. Industry was found in pockets. Most industries were the private property of industrialists. Workers were divided into social groups on the basis of skill. The peasants too were divided. They also had no respect for the nobility. Russian peasants wanted the land of the nobles to be given to them.
• Economic Conditions: The year 1904 was a particularly bad one for Russian workers. Prices of essential goods rose so quickly that real wages declined by 20 percent. This led to the famous St.Petersburg strike that started events a series of events that are together known as the 1905 Revolution.
• Political Conditions: Russia was under the autocratic rule of Romanov Czars, who believed in the Theory of Divine Right of the Kings. All political parties were illegal in Russia before 1914. The Russian Social Democratic Workers Party was founded in 1898 by socialists who respected Marx’s ideas. It set up a newspaper, mobilised workers and organised strikes. Socialists were active in the countryside through the late nineteenth century. They formed the Socialist Revolutionary Party in 1900.
2. In what ways was the working population in Russia different from other countries in Europe before 1917?
The working population in Russia was different from other countries in Europe before 1917 because many workers had settled in cities permanently but many had strong links with the villages from which they came and continued to live in villages. They went to the towns to work daily and then returned to their villages in the evenings. Workers were a divided social group. Workers were divided by skill. Divisions among workers was visible in their dress and manners also. Metal workers considered themselves aristocrats among workers as their occupations demanded more training and skill. The working population was united on one front - strikes against work conditions and employer tyranny.
3. Why did the Tsarist autocracy collapse in 1917?
• The peasants were extremely dissatisfied. They wanted that cultivable land should be given to the tillers, but the autocratic government did not pay any heed to their demands.
• The working conditions of the workers were very bad. There was a general demand that the industries should be controlled by the workers themselves. However, the Tsar favoured the industrialists and neglected the workers.
• The industrial workers in Russia got very low wages and had very long working hours, sometimes upto 15 hours.
• Due to this, the condition of the Russian people, farmers and factory workers was highly miserable and autocracy collapsed in 1917.
4. Make two lists: one with the main events and the effects of the February Revolution and the other with the main events and effects of the October Revolution. Write a paragraph on who was involved in each, who were the leaders and what was the impact of each on Soviet history.
• Factory locked out on the right bank on 22nd February.
• Sympathy strike was done by workers in 50 factories on 23rd February.
• On 25th February, government suspended the Duma and demonstrators came on roads.
• Police headquarters were ransacked by workers. Regiment supported the workers and they formed the Petrograd Soviet.
• On 2nd March, the Tzar abdicated and Soviet and Duma leaders formed the Provisional Government.
• On 16th October, Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik leader persuaded the Petrograd Soviet.
• A Military Revolutionary Committee was appointed by the Soviet.
• The Military Committee seized the government offices and arrested ministers.
• The Winter Palace was shelled.
• Ministers of the Provisional Government surrendered.
• The Bolsheviks gained control.
5. What were the main changes brought about by the Bolsheviks immediately after the October Revolution?
• The Bolshevik Government nationalized the industries.
• Land was declared social property and peasants were allowed to seize the land of the nobility.
• All the old titles of the aristocrats were abolished and peasants could seize the lands from their owners.
• The Bolshevik Party was renamed the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik).
• Russia became a one party state and trade unions were kept under party control.
• The Bolsheviks introduced a centralised planning on the basis of which Five Year Plans were made for development of Russia.
6. Write a few lines to show what you know about:
• the Duma
• women workers between 1900 and 1930
• the Liberals
• Stalin’s collectivisation programme
• Kulaks were the well to do peasants of Russia. The members of the Bolshevik party raided the Kulaks and their goods were seized. It was believed that the Kulaks were exploiting the peasants and hoarding grain to earn higher profits and thus leading to grain shortages.
• During 1905 Revolution, the Tsar allowed the creation of an elected consultative parliament in Russia. This elected consultative parliament in Russia was called Duma.
• Women made up 31 per cent of the factory labour force by 1914, but they were paid less than men. In the February Revolution in many factories the women led the way to strikes.
• The liberals were one of the groups which wanted to change the society. The liberals wanted a nation which tolerated all religions. The liberals wanted an elected parliamentary form of governance, they believed that the right to vote must only belong to men, and that too the ones who were property holders.
• Stalin devised the economic policy of collectivisation by which small land holdings were made into large farms. These farms would be collectively owned by the peasants and profits would be shared among all. A large number of peasants opposed this move by the government.