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Russia Revolution, Civil War, and Lenin Timeline

  • 1905 Russian Revolution and October Manifesto

    1905 Russian Revolution and October Manifesto
    The 1905 Revolution was a period of social and political unrest. It was the result of both long-term and short-term social economic and political issues such as the strikes in St. Petersburg. Consequently, Nicholas subdues the unrest with the October Manifesto which promised an elected State Duma. However, the Duma never had true power in the government. This added more tension between the tsar and anti-tsarists. Image: St. Petersburg Bulletin announcing Manifesto.
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    Russia Revolution, Civil War, and Lenin Timeline

  • Beginning of World War I

    Beginning of World War I
    Russia entered World War I three days after July 28, 1914, when Austria-Hungary's declared war on Serbia, a Russian ally. The Russian Empire sent an ultimatum warning Austria-Hungary not to attack Serbia, but after the invasion of Serbia, Russia began to mobilize its army. So, on July 31, the German Empire demanded Russian demobilization. Russia didn’t respond, so Germany declared war on Russia. Image: Russian recruiting poster reads 'World on fire; Second Patriotic War'.
  • Tsar Nicholas II Takes Control of Military Operations

    Tsar Nicholas II Takes Control of Military Operations
    Tsar Nicholas II appoints himself as commander-in-chief and travel to the frontlines during World War I. Along with military failures, this decision was significant because it physically and mentally distanced the tsar from the problems leading to civil unrest in Russia which increased frustration and resentment with the tsarist rule. organizations like the ZemGor and the Duma had to undertake some governmental roles to direct wartime Russia. Image: Tsar Nicholas II (on horse) in the frontlines.
  • The Assassination of Rasputin

    The Assassination of Rasputin
    Rasputin was murdered on December 16, 1916 by being shot 3 times, poisoned, and thrown into a body of water. The organizers of his assassination, Price Yusupov and Purishkevich, went into exile and were arrested/later released (by the secret police) respectively for their crime. His death marked the end of another incompetent leader of Russia and served as a continuation and or escalation of the political unrest there. Image: Rasputin, the mystic healer.
  • Cheka formed

    Cheka formed
    In December 1917, the All-Russian Commission for the Suppression of Counter-Revolution, Sabotage and Speculation or the Cheka was was established to imprison/target Kadets, Mensheviks and Left and Right SRs along with “class enemies”, most notably the Kulaks. The formation of the Cheka is significant because it shows the extent to which Lenin relied/used terror and coercion to consolidate his power by suppressing the opposition. Image: Cheka badge
  • Trotsky organizes Red Guard to defend Petrograd

    Trotsky organizes Red Guard to defend Petrograd
    The Red Guard was built by the working class during the process of the Russian Revolution. It has its origins in the revolution of 1905. It reappears during the revolution of 1917 and becomes semi-clandestine for a short period, after the uprisings in July; it returns to the scene and strengthens as a resistance against Kornilov’s coup; and it is legalized on the eve of the seizure of power, in which it has a decisive role. Image: The Red Guard defending Bolshevik Revolution.
  • International Women's Day March in Petrograd

    International Women's Day March in Petrograd
    The National Women's Day march in Petrograd on February 23,1917 began with women workers demonstrating, demanding a change in the domestic supply and distribution of food during WWI. Others joined such as the Putilov metal workers, militant students, and women in bread queues. This event was significant as it encouraged Russians to act on their frustration with the tsarist government, especially with its mismanagement of the war effort. Image: protestors in the streets of Petrograd.
  • Tsar Nicholas II Abdicates

    Tsar Nicholas II Abdicates
    On 2 March 1917, Tsar Nicolas II of Russia abdicated the throne, ending the Romanov dynasty which ruled Russia for three centuries. Factors such as WWI and the February Revolution led to his forced abdication. This is significant as it allowed for the creation of the new provisional government and the eventual power gain of the Bolsheviks. Image: depressed (ex-Tsar) Nicholas II.
  • Provisional Government Formed

    Provisional Government Formed
    From March to November 1917, formed as Russia’s new system of government after the abdication of the tsar. Over time, as socialists returned from exile, the government became a hub for socialism from the Socialist Revolutionaries to the Bolsheviks. This is significant as it created a new system of power which allowed socialists like Lenin to gain power. Image: Provisional Government ministers (seated) taken in 1917.
  • April Theses published

    April Theses published
    Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin published his April Theses in 1917 outlining his promises if his party takes control over the Russian government. Most notably, his promises of ‘peace, bread, land’ and ‘all power to the soviets’ increased Bolshevik support amongst peasants, workers, and soldiers. This allowed for the Bolshevik force to become stronger while the provisional government became weaker thus making conditions favorable for an overthrow of the dual-power government. Image: famous quote
  • Return of Lenin From Exile

    Return of Lenin From Exile
    On April 16, 1917, Vladimir Lenin, leader of the revolutionary Bolshevik Party, returned to Petrograd after a decade of exile to lead the Russian Revolution. Lenin called for the overthrow of the provisional government by the soviets; he was forced to flee to Finland, but his support led the Bolsheviks to win a majority in the Petrograd soviet, eventually leading to the fall of the Provisional Government and proclaimed soviet rule. Image: Lenin the sexy beast.
  • First All-Russian Congress of Soviets meets

    First All-Russian Congress of Soviets meets
    It was the supreme governing body of the Soviet Federative Socialist Republic from 1918-1936 after the October Revolution removed the provisional government, making the Congress of Soviets the supreme governing body. The Bolshevization of the Soviets established the Communist-Soviet system of state power in the USSR. This was possible mainly because of Vladimir Lenin in 1917 with his April theses, hence the famous slogan "All power to the Soviets!". Image: Russian SFSR's State Emblem
  • Brusilov Offensive

    Brusilov Offensive
    On June 18, 1927, the Russian army launched the Brusilov offensive against the Austrian Army in which they advanced for 10 weeks over 300 km front and almost brought the Austrian Army close to collapse. Unfortunately, upon the arrival of German reinforcements, the offensive failed and the advance was called off. Consequently, this damaged soldiers’ morale which led to increased desertions and frustrations with the tsarist government. Image: Eastern front 1916, offensive in lower right corner.
  • July Days

    July Days
    A period of unrest in Petrograd in July 1917. Spontaneous armed demonstrations by soldiers, sailors, and industrial workers against the Provisional Government (PG). The PG blamed the Bolsheviks for the violence brought about by the July Days, thus dispersing the party and arresting leaders including Trotsky. Lenin fled to Finland. It caused a temporary decline in the growth of Bolshevik power before the October Revolution. Image: protesters dispersing in Petrograd
  • Kornilov Affair

    Kornilov Affair
    The Kornilov affair, or the Kornilov putsch, was an attempted military coup d'état by the commander-in-chief of the Russian Army, General Lavr Kornilov, from 10–13 September 1917 (27–30 August old style) against the Russian Provisional Government headed by Aleksander Kerensky and the Petrograd Soviet of Soldiers' and Workers' Deputies. Image: Kornilov greeted by his officers.
  • Bolsheviks overthrow the Provisional Government and take control

    Bolsheviks overthrow the Provisional Government and take control
    In October 1917, under the direction of the Military Revolutionary Committee, Bolshevik Red Guards and other troops loyal to the Soviet, military units captured the Winter Palace and arrested the remaining members of the Provisional government. This coup was significant as it signified the end of the Provisional government and the start of Lenin’s actions towards consolidating power to the Bolshevik party in the Russian government. Image: insurrgents storming the Winter Palace.
  • Wartime Communism created

    Wartime Communism created
    Wartime Communism was implemented to help the Bolsheviks win the revolution. It rationed out food between workers and redirected resources to the war efforts. The industry was nationalized and commercial factories were repurposed, along with food and pay of workers now coming from the state. It demonstrated both Lenin accomplishing a major communist milestone and introduced the heavily authoritative route that his leadership would take in order to achieve those goals. Image: Civil War propaganda
  • Constituent Assembly meets and is disbanded

    Constituent Assembly meets and is disbanded
    The assembly met for one day, but because the Bolsheviks won only 25% of the vote, they demanded that the authority of the Soviet government would be recognized. When that was ignored, they (and leftist SRs) walked out, with Soviet troops dispersing representatives of non-Bolshevik parties and disbanded the party (Jan 19th, 1918). This is significant because it was a sign of the Bolsheviks instead opting for dictatorial ways of having power. Image: Assembly vote results (Bolsheviks lose :( ).
  • Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

    Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
    The treaty, between Russia and the Central Powers (primarily Germany), ended Russia’s participation in WWI at the cost of ~25% of Russia’s land at the time. The treaty simultaneously recognized the independence of countries like Ukraine, its Polish and Baltic territories, and Finland. The treaty served to be humiliating for Russia, but was also a step to achieve “peace, bread, and land” for Russian citizens in the eyes of Lenin. Image: New Boundaries of Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
  • Red Terror

    Red Terror
    The Cheka pursued a ruthless policy known as the Red Terror in which they targeted all suspected enemies including all SRs, Mensheviks, ‘class enemies’ (aristocratic or middle-class backgrounds) to enforce loyalty to the Bolshevik Revolution and communism. As a result, thousands of people killed and imprisoned. It also shows the extent to which Lenin used terror to consolidate his power. Image reads: "Death to the Bourgeoisie and its lapdogs – Long live the Red Terror".
  • Kolchak (one of the White leaders) begins serious attacks against Reds from Siberia

    Kolchak (one of the White leaders) begins serious attacks against Reds from Siberia
    In April 1919, Kolchak began a series of attacks (triple offensive) against the Reds from Siberia. It was a tense time for the Lenist government as one of the generals reached Gatchina on the outskirts of Petrograd from Estonia. However, these attacks were significant as it resulted in an increased Bolshevik military effort which ultimately gave the Reds the upper hand during 1920. Image: leader of White army, Alexander Kolchak.
  • Poles move toward Kiev

    Poles move toward Kiev
    In April 1920, the Reds fought the Poles who had reached Kiev (Ukraine) and had invaded Western Ukraine in April. This was the Poles’ way of fighting against Lenin’s communism which he wanted to spread outside of Russia, specifically, into Poland. Image: Polish soldiers in Kiev in May 1920.
  • Soviets attempt to take Warsaw

    Soviets attempt to take Warsaw
    In April 1920, the Soviets attempted to take Warsaw (Poland) in their counter-attack towards the Polish Army. The successful attack was led by General Mikhaill Tukcachevsky, under direct orders from Lenin. However, the Poles defeated the Red Army in August. Consequently, a peace treaty was signed, forcing Lenin to grant self-rule to Poland. Lenin's failure at inciting communist revolution in Poland proved that his hope to spread communism outside of Russia was unrealistic. Image: War attacks.
  • Tambov Rebellion

    Tambov Rebellion
    The largest peasant uprising against the Bolsheviks took place a couple hundred miles from the new capital (Moscow) and was led by Social Revolutionaries that were upset about the grain requisitioning taking place under War Communism. They are often referred to as the “greens”, who were neither fond of the White nor Red groups. It took Mikhail Tukhachevsky (nicknamed Red Napoleon) 30,000 soldiers to shut it down. Image: Map showing spread of revolts from Tambov.
  • Ending of Wartime Communism

    Ending of Wartime Communism
    Wartime communism started in June 1918 and ended 21 March 1921 with the creation of the NEP (New Economic Program). Wartime Communism was a policy of total governmental control during the civil war but was forced to end as the economy was taking a turn for the worse. This is significant as it was replaced by the NEP which allowed for some capitalistic ideas within society. Image: The Great Famine of 1921 was partly the result of Wartime Communism.
  • Kronstadt uprising

    Kronstadt uprising
    Left-wing sailors (some Bolsheviks, some not) who originally supported the October Revolution in 1917 were revolting out of opposition to the harsh conditions of War Communism, and wanted the dictatorship to end. It held significance in that the support for communist goals that Lenin originally had was being lost because of his extreme means of accomplishing those goals. Image: Red Army soldiers crossing ice to reach sailors on island.
  • Treaty of Rapallo

    Treaty of Rapallo
    Signed on 16 April 1922 it was an agreement between Germany and Russia which renounced all territory lost between them due to the treaty of Brest Litovsk. This treaty is very significant as it helped strengthen the international bond between the nations while also going against many of the other treaties created by other nations (Versailles). Image: Chancellor of Germany Joseph Wirth (2 from left) with Krassin, Georgi Chicherin and Joffe from the Russian delegation.
  • Ukraine brought under Soviet control

    Ukraine brought under Soviet control
    The Ukrainian government briefly allied themselves with Poland, but could not withstand the Soviet assault. In 1922, Ukraine became one of the original constituent republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.); it would not regain its independence until the U.S.S.R.'s collapse in 1991. Image: Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic flag.
  • Formation of Soviet Union

    Formation of Soviet Union
    (USSR) Formed 30 December 1922 as a one party state in Russia led by the Bolsheviks and Lenin until his death when it was taken over by Stalin. This is significant as it became the government of Russia until 1991. Image: USSR flag
  • Lenin dies

    Lenin dies
    Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, died on 21 January 1924 at the age of 53 after falling into a coma due to a disease of the blood vessels. This is very significant as the first leader of the USSR had died meaning someone else (Stalin) had to take over power so the new state of the USSR did not fall. Image: Lenin's funeral (1925), by Isaak Brodsky.