November 7 marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, arguably the most significant incident of the 20th century after the Great War that changed the course of history. In 1917, the oppressed and the subdued overthrew the Romanov dynasty that had ruled the land of Russia for more than 3 centuries. The autocratic tsars were sent to the gallows and a new communist government was set up. One man who is closely and indispensably associated with the revolution is communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.
Russian Revolution did not just happen overnight rather it took years in making. Not just the personal coffers but there was a stark contrast between the living conditions of the ruling class and the rest. Extreme penury and high mortality rate among the majority of the population of Russia at that time proved instrumental in the uprising. After several revolts from the public against Tsar Nicholas II, the final nail in the coffin was put on November 7, 1917 and a modern Russia came into existence.
Let’s have a look at how the Russian Revolution unfolded:
- Russia was divided into two classes – ruling class and working class. Life of ‘ruling’ class goes without saying but the working class lived under miserable conditions. The peasants which made a large majority in the country, were treated like slaves as they were bereft of any rights or laws.
- Russia was the largest exporter of food in the world at that time but despite that there were frequent famines in the country. Where the ruling class made huge piles of money by exporting food, the peasants and labourers responsible for producing that food suffered from grain shortage.
- Reportedly, infant mortality rate was extremely terrible. Only 50% of the newborns survived by the age of 5 while the life expectancy among the rural population stood at a mere 30 years.
- On January 22, 1905, assuming the support of the Tsar, peasants in large numbers marched toward his palace demanding better working conditions. The march was crushed by the Tsar and a huge number of peasants and workers were killed on that day which is now known as the Bloody Sunday.
- When Russia entered World War I in 1914, untrained peasants, labourers and workers were inducted into the army to fight. By 1917, Russia lost around 20 lakh people in the war and the dissent among people against the Tsar Nicholas II grew to the boiling point.
- World War I broke the back of Russian economy and the already disastrous condition of working class became deadly. During the February Revolution of 1917, people came out on the streets and began to riot. This time, even the soldiers of the Tsar refused to fire at the revolting people and consequently Nicholas II lost the popular support of his army.
- The Bolsheviks, who were the Communist revolutionaries, led by Vladimir Lenin grew in prominence over the next few months and Tsar Nicholas II finally gave up his absolute power over Russia.
- Initially, the two government system was instated in the country – Petrograd Soviet (representing the workers and soldiers) and the Provisional Government (the traditional government without the Tsar).
- The leader of Petrograd Soviet was Lenin and he believed that Russian government should be pure Marxist in nature. During the Bolshevik Revolution, Lenin kicked out the Provisional Government and took the absolute control of the Russian government in October, 1917.
- Russia became the first communist country in the world of that time and signed a peace treaty with Germany, hence exiting the World War I. The newly formed communist government took away the land from the ruling class and distributed it among the peasants, resulting in the revitalisation of the Russian industry.