How did the Bolsheviks gain power, and how did they consolidate their rule?

2. How did the Bolsheviks gain power, and how did they consolidate their rule?

Some of these resources overlap with the previous question.

The 1917 Russian Revolution

Generally the questions on the Russian Revolution centre upon the Bolshevik takeover of power. However, one should also focus upon the 1905 and February/ March 1917 revolutions. Obviously the paper which asks questions about Russia includes sources so it is advisable to practise answering questions which includes primary or secondary sources.

The clip below explains the causes again but in a slightly different way!

From the Discovery Channel

There are numerous documentaries explaining the causes of the Russian Revolution. For students, the one below is more appropriate as it is has been produced by a history teacher.

A short article on the causes. They are divided into economic, social and political.

A detailed site explaining the causes of the Russian Revolution.

The causes of the Russian Revolution from BBC Bitesize.

What happened to the Romanovs?

The Fall of the Romanovs. Discovery Channel.

How did the Bolsheviks actually take power?

1. Lenin persuaded workers to support him – his slogan of ‘peace, land and bread’ was effective. He also published the ‘April Theses’, opposing the Provisional Government and anybody who supported them.

2. The First World War continued to make Russia suffer economically. This led to more opposition to the war and the Bolshevik policy was to pull out. Kerensky ordered an offensive in July 1917.

3. The Kornilov Affair – General Kornilov became a threat to Kerensky. It was possible that Kornilov threatened Kerensky’s position, giving the excuse that he would destroy the opposition to the Provisional Government, but actually taking it over himself. Kerensky used the powerful Bolsheviks and their Red Guards, along with rail workers, to stop Kornilov. This gave the Bolsheviks power and status.

4. Lenin persuaded the other Bolsheviks that the time was right for revolution. The Germans had helped Lenin get into the country from exile. He then persuaded the majority to launch a second revolution.

and how did they consolidate their rule?

The Bolsheviks may have taken power in the October Revolution but the hard part is hanging on to it. They negotiated the unfair Treaty of Brest-Litovsk to end Russia’s involvement in the First World War. Opposition party leaders were arrested and the Cheka was set up. If a question asking how Bolsheviks established their power comes up, it is important that you know all of this. The following links may help.

Treaty of Brest-Litovsk from Spartacus.

Treaty of Brest-Litovsk from the History Learning Site.

Very useful information about the period 1918 to 1921.

Obviously the Bolsheviks could not arrest everybody. There would always be opposition from supporters of the Tsar, Mensheviks, Kadets etc. At the end of a prolonged war there is generally a power vacuum. Groups and organisations fight each other for control and power. The recent war in Iraq is an example. The Russian Civil War was where control was eventually established. Lenin intended to fight this war all along. There would be huge casualties but as long as the Bolsheviks won, the cost would be acceptable.

Russian Civil War from Spartacus.

Russian Civil War from John D. Clare.

A useful page from History Today on how Lenin held on to power.

Technicolor Revolutionaries – The Red, White, Blue and Green Armies of the Russian Civil War

A timeline of the Russian Civil War. This may be difficult to follow.

This clip explains the build up to the civil war.

A two-minute partial summary of the Russian Civil War

Why did the Reds win the Russian Civil War?

War Communism

A detailed article on the economic policy

The Kronstadt Revolt

From John D Clare

New Economic Policy

From John D Clare

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