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Intro

This section covers Russia during World War 1 (1914-1917). We will be looking at the Russian war campaign and its impact on the outbreak of the revolution in February 1917. We will be asking how the war revolutionized society? Why did the Tsar's mishandling of the war make revolution appear patriotic to so many people in Russia? What was the role of rumours about Rasputin and sexual scandals at the court? The section contains extracts from my books, videos and photographs, including a rare pornographic postcard, as well as my suggestions about what books you should read. Register here to get information on accessing more materials including my responses to exam questions on these themes.

First World War, World War 1, Russian Declaration of War, Russian Mobilization

The declaration of war is announced, St Petersburg

Whether or not there was a revolutionary situation in Russia on the eve of the First World War is a matter of controversy. But no one doubts that the Revolution of 1917 was a product of that war. Military defeats turned society against the court and government; the economic crisis of the war radicalized the working class; and through the Tsarist army peasants were exposed to new outlooks on the world, to new technologies and to the ideas of the revolutionaries.

Watch this short clip of the Russian mobilization from the Huntley Film Archives.


Patriotic Hopes

The Tsar's declaration of war on 31 July 1914 was met by an outpouring of national unity. Workers' strikes came to a halt. Socialists united behind the defence of the Fatherland. Read more...

Russia's Military Weaknesses

Russia's military weaknesses began to make themselves felt. Russia was not prepared for a war of attrition. Read more...

War as a Revolutionary Force

The war was this a great democratizer, opening channels of advancement for millions of peasant sons. Read more...

The Great Retreat

In May 1915 the Central Powers (Germany and Austria) launched a massive offensive, breaking through the Russian lines right across the Eastern Front and forcing the Tsar's armies into headlong retreat. Read more...

The Patriotic Revolution

The Zemstvo Union and Union of Towns (known together as Zemgor) sprang into action, virtually running the military supply campaign in the absence of an effective government system. Read more...

'The Mad Chauffeur' and the Liberal Dilemma

The liberals' paralysis was determined, above all, by their fear of sparking violence on the streets. Read more...

Rasputin and the Revolutionary Power of Rumours

What they did not realize was that a consignment of nurses' uniforms had fallen into the hands of the city's prostitutes. Read more...

From War to Social Revolution

As the war dragged on and the belief in treason at the court spread through the ranks, the mood of the soldiers became more hostile to their officers. Read more...

The Murder of Rasputin

Rasputin had become increasingly involved with the homosexual circles of the high aristocracy. Read more...

Q & A

Here are some exam-like questions. Read more...

Podcast

A recording of a lecture/class using primary documents. Read more...

Further Reading

A list of further reading. Read more...

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