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The war was the reason behind the social change that occurred in Russia, speeding up the events that were already slowly occurring. The war severely weakened the Russian economy, government and society, all of which helped to weaken Nicholas II's government, letting the revolution speed up its pace. The Russian involvement in the war and the impact it had on the country itself was the main reason for the fall of Nicholas II. During the war the Russian army suffered heavy casualties. “By the end of 1916, the Russian Imperial Army had conscripted 14 million men, mainly peasants.”1 There was also large industrial growth and it continued to grow by a lot due to the lack of weapons and other supplies that were needed by the forces. All of Russia supported the fighting in the war as they saw a victory over Germany and Austria-Hungary as a good thing. “Russian war aims were not simply defensive but expansionist.”2
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Nicholas II and his family
Nicholas II cut himself off from what was going on at the capital as he spent the majority of the war at the military headquarters at Mugilev. The government managed to get supplies to the forces but they couldn’t feed the urban population. Transportation also became unreliable, especially the grain shipments. The Mensheviks and Bolsheviks opposed the war and most of the leaders, including those from the Socialist Revolution were either in exile or had stopped being involved in political activity. A War Industry Committee was created which allowed for the work forces to discuss ideas and figure out ways to raise productivity. “Nicholas II’s very acknowledgment of the necessity of the War-Industry Committee counted against him.”3 Nicholas was resented by both the Upper and Middle classes. “Villages faced several painful problems: the conscription of their young males; the unavailability of manufactured goods; inadequate prices for grain and hay; the requisitioning of horses.”4 There were some peasants who moved against the monarchy, they were soldiers in the Petrograd garrison who didn’t like the poor food and military discipline they were facing, they even grew reluctant to carry out orders. The Tsar shut down the Duma on February 26 and by doing so thrust the conservatives and liberals into a place of outright opposition. The Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries became convinced that the monarchy could be easily over thrown. “Nicholas’s final measure was to abdicate.”5

“The formation of the Provisional Government was announced on 3 March.”6 The Kadets were the primary supporters of the Provisional Government; they weren’t going after a strict defense policy that would help to maintain the feeling among the soldiers to die for their country as well as workers to not complain about the awful conditions. “Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries had great political authority. Without the consent of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Provisional Government could never have been formed.”7 The Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries did not give up their struggle for the behalf of the people of the working class. “The Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries, and Bolsheviks organized a street demonstration against the Provisional Government on April 20th. Against this assertion of the Petrograd Soviet’s strength, the Provisional Government offered no resistance, and Milyukov and Guchkov resigned.”8 There were changes in policy which brought about chaos as the society and economy was continuously dislocated by war. The majority of workers hated the outright violence. “The problem for the Provisional Government was that the Rada, the Sejm and other national organs of self-government among the non-Russians were beginning to constitute a tier of unofficial regional opposition to policies announced in Petrograd.”9

The next step of social change occurred when the Bolsheviks took control over the Provisional Government. Alexander Kerenski’s Provisional Government was overthrown October 25, 1917 in Petrograd. The Bolsheviks took power through a series of actions and they operated through the Military-Revolutionary Committee of the City Soviet. With Lenin’s seizure of the Winter Palace the revolution was essentially over. “On Lenin’s proposal, the Second Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies ratified the transfer of authority to the soviets. A government led by him was quickly formed. He called for an immediate end to the Great War and for working people across Europe to establish their own socialist administrations.”10 This insurrection happened at the same time at the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, which was dominated by the Bolsheviks. This new Congress brought about the Decree of Peace which called for a democratic peace that was to be without annexations and indemnities as well as abolishing the landlords’ ownership of their land. “The Decree on Land summoned the peasants to undertake radical agrarian reform.”11 One of the first serious challenges that the Bolshevik government faced happened in January of 1918 as that was when the Constituent Assembly finally met. The Socialist-Revolutionaries had the majority of the assembly and Lenin had his troops disperse the assembly on January 19th. The Allied countries refused to acknowledge that the Soviet government even existed. Lenin began to work with Germany in order to keep the government alive as well as reshaping Russia politically, socially and even economically. By 1918 the War Communism was taking shape, the nationalization of industry and of land was proclaimed in 1918. The Socialists- Revolutionaries staged an unsuccessful strike against the Soviet government; they tried terrorism and assassinations, killing some prominent Bolsheviks. The Civil War broke out in the summer of 1918 and went in favor of the Whites. Nicholas II and his family were killed by Bolsheviks on the sixteenth of July, supposedly on Lenin’s secret order.
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Lenin
The final step of social change that occurred in Russia due to the war was the Soviets taking charge in Russia. The Fifth All-Russian Congress of Soviets adopted the first Soviet constitution on July 10, 1918. This constitution created the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic which consisted of local Soviets who were elected as delegates to a congress of Soviets and they in turn elected the membership for the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. By the time the Civil War was over in Russia the country was in shambles as the breakdown of the economy and society had taken its toll on the population of Russia. “On February 1921, Lenin? convinced its members of the need for urgent measures and a resolution was passed calling for a partial re-legalization of ‘local economic exchange’ in grain. But the underlying purpose was unmistakable: the Politburo intended to restore private commercial activity. In addition, the tax-in-kind was to be set at a much lower level than the grain-requisitioning quotas and would secure only the minimum of the state’s requirements on behalf of civilian consumers. These measures were the core of what quickly became known as the New Economic Policy or (NEP).”12 After Lenin’s death, Stalin took complete control over the Party membership.
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Stalin
Stalin taking control of Russia was the final stage of the social change in Russia that was an outcome of the war. He made allies out of Kamenev and Zinoviev who also going against Trotsky. The final victory came on December 27, 1927 at the Fifteenth All-Union Congress of the Communist party and Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Union as a result. World War One was the reason behind the acceleration of society that occurred in Russia. Russia was aware of the growing opposition to the Romanov regime but it was the conditions of the war that helped weaken the government enough so the changes could take place.


Bibliography:
Riasanovsky, Nicholas V. . A History of Russia. Sixth Edition ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.
Service, Robert. A History of Twentieth-Century Russia . 2nd? published in Penguin Books. ed. London: Penguin Books, 1998. Print.
Quotes from: Service, Robert. A History of Twentieth-Century Russia . 2nd? published in Penguin Books. ed. London: Penguin Books, 1998. Print.
  1. pg. 26
  2. pg. 27
  3. pg. 29
  4. pg. 31
  5. pg. 33
  6. pg. 33
  7. pg. 35
  8. pg. 36
  9. pg .41
  10. pg. 62
  11. pg. 68
  12. pg. 125
Image Sources:
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