The Russian Revolution
For centuries tsars ruled Russia. This period came to an end during the Russian revolution of 1917. The events changed Russia completely and brought the people a new form of government.
Russian people were treated very badly during the rule of the tsars. At the end of the 19th century many people in the countryside were peasants . They had little food to eat and lived in poverty. They didn’t have any power either. As society changed, more and more people started living in cities. They became factory workers and turned into a new middle class. They didn’t like the tsar and wanted more power from him.
After a small rebellion in 1905 Tsar Nicholas II created a kind of parliament called the Duma. But the tsar himself was not willing to give up his power and he dissolved the Duma after a few months.
During World War I Russia’s army lost many soldiers in their fight against the Germans. The winter of 1916/17 was very harsh and many people had little food to eat and not very much fuel to heat their houses. They wanted Russia to stop the war.
Tsar Nicholas II of Russia
Finally , in February 1917 large demonstrations against the tsar started in Petrograd (today’s St. Petersburg). The Russian army joined the demonstrators and turned against the him . Nicholas II was forced to give up.
After the tsar had stepped down from power the Duma set up a new government , but it couldn’t manage the problems that Russia had. At the same time groups of workers set up so-called “Soviets”. They were first organised in St. Petersburg but quickly spread throughout the country. As the Duma’s government became weaker the power of the Soviets became stronger.
Many different political groups in these Soviets fought for power. In the end, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, took over control. Most of the population liked the Bolsheviks because they promised the people “ peace, land and bread”.
In October 1917 the Bolsheviks took over the government in Russia and Lenin became the most powerful man in the country. All other political parties were forbidden.
Under the Bolsheviks all land was put under the control of the state. The tsar and the Russian church lost a lot of their land. The new party introduced an 8 hour workday and gave workers more control over the factories. Soldiers entered the new Red Army.
Lenin quickly pulled Russia out of World War I. He signed a treaty with the Germans at Brest-Litovsk in early 1918. Under this treaty Russia lost about a fourth of its territory. Georgia, Ukraine and Finland became independent countries. Poland and the Baltic states fell under German control. Soon, the Bolsheviks changed their name to the Communist Party.
Shortly after the end of the First World War civil war broke out between the Bolsheviks and anti-Communist forces who wanted to have the tsar back again. These tsarist troops were called “White Russians”. They received help from some foreign countries, like France, Great Britain and the USA. After three years the Red Army won the war and the revolution that had begun a few years earlier was over.
Nicholas II and his family were taken prisoners and murdered by the Communists in 1918. In 1922, Russia officially became the Soviet Union.
Downloadable PDF Text- and Worksheets
- anti—communist = against the Communists
- civil war = a war in which two groups from the same country fight against each other
- completely = totally , fully
- create =make
- dissolve = to break up or to end
- event = something important that happens
- factory = building in which goods are produced
- finally = in the end
- forbidden = not allowed
- force = to make someone do something that he doesn’t want to do
- forces = group of soldiers
- foreign = from another country
- fuel = material that produces heat, like coal or wood
- give up = to give to someone else
- government =the people who rule a country
- harsh = very bad
- independent =free; to govern yourself
- introduce = to use for the first time
- join = to become a member of a group
- lead—led = to be the first in a group
- manage = to control
- officially =formally, publicly
- peace = when there is no war or fighting
- peasant = a poor farmer who doesn’t have very much land
- population = the people who live in a country
- poverty =being poor
- prisoner = to keep someone locked up in a place
- promise = to say that you really want to do something
- pull out = to get out of...
- rebellion = if people fight against the government and try to change it
- receive = get
- set up = to start or organize something
- sign = to put your name on an important piece of paper
- society =the people in general
- soldier = a man or woman who fights for a country in a war
- spread =move
- state = government
- step down = give up
- take over control =to govern or become a leader
- territory = land
- throughout = in the whole ...
- treat = to behave towards someone in a certain way
- treaty = an agreement between two or more countries
- troops = soldiers
- tsar = the male ruler of Russia up to 1917
- turn against =to stop giving a person help