USM Open Source History Text: The World at War: World History 1914-1945

Introduction to the Russian Revolution

We take our first step beyond WWI in this chapter, though not before we briefly dip back into the era of the war, to 1917, Russia’s Revolutionary year and the beginning of a long process of revolution that will last until 1929. This chapter will focus on the Russia Revolution from its beginnings in February 1917, through the Bolshevik power grab in October of that year, continuing through Russia’s subsequent Civil War, and ending with the power struggle between Joseph Stalin and other powerful Bolshevik leaders for control over the party in the years after the death of Vladimir Lenin. The chapter ends in 1929, on the eve of Stalin’s first major set of reforms, reforms that forever changed Russia and the world. In a subsequent chapter, we pick up the story of Russia after 1929, as its long revolution gives way to the nightmarish totalitarian dictatorship of Stalin, perhaps the most murderous man in all of human history. As we move through the events of this chapter, keep in mind the underlying tragedy of the Russia Revolution. It was a movement that began with a popular call for liberation from an oppressive regime and ended with a far more oppressive and fanatical totalitarian state.

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