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Week XV: 7 Dec. :     1905-1917 (War, Revolution, Reform, War, Revolution)

                                Part I:  Common Readings Assignment:  Linc., pp. 192-203; Dmyt. pp. 409-523.  

                                Part II.  Individual (Term Paper Readings) Reading Questions:  See questions below under Part II.   First, answer the "general" questions on the individual readings, then look for your name for specific questions.


Part I:  Common readings:

Review Lincoln study questions from last week!


Dmyt, pp. 409-523:

*Gapon's Petition to Nicholas II, 22 January 1905 (pp. 409-413)

This petition was being carried by demonstrators who were shot down in the streets of St. Petersburg on "Bloody Sunday."

--What was this petition actually asking of Nicholas II?  What were the demonstrators' basic demands?  And could Nicholas actually grant these demands without weakening his power as autocrat?



*Concessions of Nicholas II in 1905 (pp, 414-416)

1) The October Manifesto (30 October 1905)

--How did Nicholas explain the decision to convene an elected State Duma and grant civil liberties?  And could this manifesto be implemented without actually weakening the Tsar's power as an autocrat?



2) Cancellation of Redemption  Payments (6 November 1905)

--How did Nicholas explain the decision to end redemption payments (which had been in effect since the Serf Emancipation)?  And what seems to have been the political goal of this decision?



*Fundamental Laws, 1906 (pp. 417-425)

Ch. I

--Did these laws formally state that the Tsar's/Emperor's power was limited and that the people were sovereign in Russia?   Explain.


--What was the Tsar's constitutional status under these laws?  What powers did he have?



Ch. II

--These laws detail the obligations and the rights of Russian citizens.  What limitations did the statute place on the exercise of rights?



--What role did the Duma and State Council have in the drafting of laws, and who had the responsibility for approving and implementing laws?


Ch. IV 

--Who "picked" the members of the Duma and of the State Council, and did the fact that the Duma passed a bill mean that it would become law?


--Ch. V

--Who "picked" and who oversaw the work of the Council of Ministers?  Was the appointed executive branch of government in any way directly accountable to the elected State Duma?


*Programs of Russian Political Parties (pp. 425-450)

PP. 425-431 is the program of the RSDLP-Bolsheviks in 1903, right after the split between the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions of Russia's Social Democratic Labor Party.  [Below are the questions that I asked about this document last week].

--How does the program explain the logic behind the the demand for a socialist society? 

--In 1903, did the Bolsheviks consider the socialist revolution a matter just for Russia?  How did they understand the relationship between the movement in Russia and the movement in the rest of Europe?

--Did the 1903 Bolshevik program call for an immediate socialist revolution in Russia?  Why not?

--The Bolsheviks argued that the Autocracy must be overthrown and a democratic republic established in Russia.  In 1903, what demands did they lay out regarding the constitution of this democratic republic?  Were these demands in and of themselves socialist?  Explain.

--In 1903, what demands did the Bolsheviks lay out with the aim of protecting the rights of the working class under the future democratic republic?  Were these in and of themselves socialist?  Explain.

--In 1903, what demands did the Bolsheviks lay out with the aim of "remov[ing] the vestiges of serfdom" in rural Russia?

--In 1903 did the Bolsheviks reject the idea of cooperation with other political parties or movements?  Explain.


PP 431-438 is the 1905 program of the Party of Socialist Revolutionaries (the PSR).

--How did the SRs explain the "historical necessity" of socialism?   Did the SRs believe that the "exploiting classes" would willingly promote the economic, intellectual, and spiritual development of the "toiling classes?  Why was that important?


--Did the SRs think that "capitalists" were the only exploiters of the toiling people in Russia?  Explain.


--Marxists (e.g., the Bolsheviks) focussed most of their attention on organizing "proletarians" (factory workers)--who did the SRs want to organize?

--What were the SRs' core political and economic demands in 1905?


--Were the SRs describing the revolution underway in 1905 as a socialist revolution?  Explain.


PP 438-444 is taken from the 1905 program of The Party of People's Freedom, also known as the Constitutional Democrats (or Kadets).

--How did the Kadets define the basic rights of citizens in 1905, and how did this liberal conception of rights differ from the conception laid out in 1906 in the Fundamental Laws?


--How did the Kadet conception of constitutional government differ from government laid out in the 1906 Fundamental Laws?  (e.g., the issue of ministerial responsibility?)


--Did the Kadets approve of the Counter-Reforms of the 1880s and 1890s?  Explain.


--What was the core of the Kadet program concerning these three issues:  1) peasant land ownership; 2) labor laws; 3) public education?



PP. 444-450 is taken from the program of the Union of the Russian People (sometimes called the "Black Hundreds").  Historians often refer to the Union as a proto-Fascist organization.

--Who did the Union of Russian People define as Russia's great internal enemy?

--How did the Union define Russian-ness?

--Was the Union formally against the idea of civil liberties (e.g., freedom of speech) or the creation of a State Duma?  Explain.


--How did the Union's program explain the relationship between the "Duma, order, and legality" (on one hand) and the "preservation of Russian autocracy" (on the other hand)?


--How did the Union's conception of the Duma and of civil liberties differ from that of the liberal Kadets?


--What about the Union's program might we interpret as "populist" (in the broad sense in which we use this term in the US)?


--What about the Union's organizational structure reflected the development of "mass" political parties in Russia?


*Witte's Account of His Premiership and Views on the Jewish Problem (pp. 451-467).  Remember that this is Count Witte's own account, written some years after he had served as the Minister of Trade and Finance under Nicholas II and then (in 1905-1906) as Russia's "Prime Minister."

PP. 451-460 is Witte's account of his service as Premier (Prime Minister) at a key turning point in the 1905 Revolution.

--Why did Witte consider the October Manifesto a "necessity"?


--Why couldn't the government simply crush all revolutionary unrest in 1905?


--On what did Witte blame revolutionary unrest in 1905?


--Why did he consider it so important to put down soldiers' rebellions in Siberia in 1905?


--Why did Witte consider it so very important that he secured foreign loans in late 1905-1906?


--How does Witte explain the reasons he was forced to resign in 1906?


PP. 460-467 is Witte's discussion of the Jewish Problem.  Although Witte shared many of the Judophobic assumptions common among Russian officials, he had considered it necessary to work in cooperation with Russia's Jewish business elite and opposed what he considered "irrational" restrictions on Jews.  (Russian law restricted where Jews could live and what they could do for a living, prevented them from buying land, restricted their access to public schooling, etc.)

--What was Witte's opinion of Petr Stolypin, the man who replaced him as Premier in 1906?


--Why did Witte favor giving Jews full and equal civil rights?


--How did Witte explain support among Jews for the revolutionary movement?


--How did he explain periodic waves of anti-Jewish violence in Russia?


*PP 467-479 contain documents on foreign policy in this period.  While these are important, and you should read them, we won't explicitly discuss them in class.


*Rasputin (pp. 479-490).  This account is from a memoir by Mikhail Rodzianko, who served for several years as the President of the State Duma and was a key political figure in the February 1917 Revolution.  In this passage, he describes events that took place in the year 1912.  Rasputin, as you probably know, was a "mystic" who exercised great influence over the family of Nicholas II (the family believed that he could cure their son Alexis of his hemophilia).

--How does Rodzianko describe Rasputin's character, his influence on the Imperial Court, and the impact of his behavior on public opinion of the royal family?


--Who does Rodzianko identify as Rasputin's chief defender at court?


--What became of the Duma's efforts to have Rasputin prosecuted for various crimes?


*Durnovo's Memorandum on the prospects of war and its potential results in February 1914 (pp. 491-509).

--According to Durnovo, why would a war between England and Germany spread and why would Russia end up carrying "the main burden of the war"?


--According to Durnovo, why did Russia actually have a greater interest in siding with Germany than it did in continuing its alliance with England?


--According to Durnovo, why would a war between Russia and Germany threaten to destroy both monarchies?


*Imperial Russia in World War One, 1914-1917 (PP 509-523)

PP. 510-511 is Nicholas II's 2 August 1914 Manifesto explaining the Declaration of War to the Russian people.

--How did Nicholas II explain the decision to go to war against Germany and Austria?


PP. 511-512 is a statement regarding support for the war made on 7 August 1914 by Rodzianko, President of the State Duma.

--Was the State Duma leadership opposed to the war?  Explain.


P. 512 is an Appeal to the Poles issued by Russia's military commander in chief, Grand Duke Nikolas Nikolaevich (the Tsar's uncle), on 14 August 1914.

--What did the Russians promise the Poles in return for support in the war against Germany?


PP. 513-515 is a November 1914 decree on the further Russification of Finland.

--Did the Russian state promise the Finns greater autonomy as a way of inducing support for the war effort?  Explain.


PP. 515-517 is an excerpt from the program of the State Duma's Progressive Bloc in September 1915.  The Progressive Bloc was composed of moderate members of the Nationalist, Center, Octoberist, Progressist, and Kadet parties.  They had formed a bloc in the Duma in hope that together they could pressure Nicholas II into making wartime government reforms.  Only reforms, they argued, would save the Russian war effort.

--How did the Bloc want to change the relationship between the Duma and the government ministries? (That is what they meant by "united government.")


--What would their demands mean for the power of the "Autocrat"?


PP. 517-518 is a resolution approved by a national congress of provincial zemstvo representatives in September 1915.

--What political reforms were zemstvo activists demanding in fall 1915?


PP. 518-519 is a resolution approved by a national congress of city government representatives in September 1915.

--What political reforms were city government activists demanding in fall 1915?


PP. 519-520 is a letter from Grand Duke Nicholai to the Tsar in December 1916 (just months before Russia exploded into revolution).  In 1916 the Tsar had taken direct personal command of the Russian military, a position that had been held by the Grand Duke at the start of the war.

--Did the Grand Duke seem to have any awareness that there was potential for unrest (and revolution) in the Russian countryside in late 1916?  What might we conclude from this?


P. 521 is a resolution approved by a congress of representatives of Russian nobles in December 1916.

--What kinds of political reforms were the nobles demanding in December 1916?


PP. 522-523 is Nicholas II's "Order of the Day" for 7 January 1917.

Did Nicholas II seem to acknowledge that Russia was facing any fundamental problems in prosecuting the war effort?



PART II  Questions on Individualized (term paper) Readings

Everyone must be prepared to discuss this question:

Historians argue over whether Late Imperial Russian society was becoming more stable or more fragmented in the decades before World War One.  Some historians hold that forces of "modernization" (such as the development of a market economy), coupled with the Autocracy's resistance to reform, had fragmented.  In this view, the educated public had grown hostile towards the Tsarist state and the "lower classes" had grown hostile towards the propertied classes and the Tsarist state.  In contrast, other historians argue that the Great Reforms, the industrialization process, the spread of education and other public institutions, and the constitutional reforms following the 1905 Revolution had actually made Russian society more cohesive and stable. Take a position in this debate--was Russian society was becoming more stable or more fragmented in the decades leading to World War One? 


Specific Questions

Nicole V:

What were peasants demanding in 1905, and how did they organize to press these demands?

Did peasants use only peaceful means to press their demands in 1905?  Explain.

Besides the massive use of force, how else did the government seek to end the peasant revolution in 1906?

How did peasant life change after the 1905 Revolution?


Brian B: 

Did soldiers rebel against the government in 1905?  Explain.

Would all historians agree that the Russian Army was a backward, reactionary institution in 1906-1914?  (Explain)

How did the Russian Army treat the population on the contested "western" borderlands during WWI?

According to Sanborn, how did the experience of war in WWI affect soldiers?  (e.g., were they affected by exposure to brutality and violence).  Why does Sanborn consider that important?


Kati C.

In 1905, what sorts of political and social changes were women workers demanding and how did they organize to press those demands?

In what ways did life for urban working women change between the 1905 Revolution and 1914?

Did the Stolypin agrarian reforms and other changes in rural life after 1905 translate into changes in the lives of rural women?  Explain.

Did the changed political context after the 1905 Revolution alter the debate in Russia over regulation of prostitution?  Explain.


Erika V.

What sorts of political changes were women intellectuals and professionals demanding in 1905 and what sorts of organizations did they form/join to press for these demands?

After the collapse of the 1905 Revolution, did women intellectuals and professionals abandon politics?  Explain.

Did the professional lives of women teachers in Russia change in any significant ways in 1907-1914? Explain.

Did the goals and the politics of Russian feminism change in any significant ways in 1907-1914?  Explain.


Mary Jo

Why did Nicholas II agree to grant major political concessions in October 1905?

Did the experience of the 1905 Revolution change Nicholas' view of his own powers as Tsar?

Once he had agreed to become as "constitutional" monarch, did Nicholas stand aside from government and let his ministers act unhindered, or did he take a direct personal role in government?  Explain. 

When and why did Nicholas assume command of Russia's army in WWI and (according to historians) what were the results?


Jenna C.

Did trends in popular literacy and in popular literature change in any important ways after the 1905 Revolution?

Did the policies of the government after the collapse of the 1905 Revolution (e.g., the Stolypin land reforms) have any effect on the problems of crime and disorder in the villages?

Why did the popular press give so much attention to hooliganism in the cities and crime in the villages in 1907-1914?

Do Frank, Neuberger, and Brooks each think that Russian society was becoming more "stable" or more "fragmented" before WWI?


James P.

How might Plehve's biography help us understand the causes of the 1905 Revolution?

How did the Russian Right understand the causes of the 1905 Revolution?

What did the various groups on the Right of Russia's political spectrum want during the revolutionary crisis of 1905-1906?

In what sense did the Right employ modern methods of mass politics in 1905-1906, and do the historians you have read think it correct to label the Russian right as "proto-fascist"?



Based upon the three books you have read, what do yo consider the most important "causes" of the 1905 Revolution?

Based upon what you have read, divide the course of the revolutionary events in 1905-1906 into at least 3-4 "stages" or "periods."  What are the major "stages" of development of the revolution in 1905-1906, and what are the main characteristics of each stage?

Is it fair to say that in Spring-Fall the "Revolution" was really several different revolutions made by a coalition of groups with very different goals? If that is a fair statement, then why was the October Manifesto so important?

What allowed the Tsarist government to put down the Revolution in late 1905 and 1906, and was this an easy task?



In 1906-1914, did the Tsar and his ministers stand by their October 1905 promises for constitutional reforms, or did they institute restrictions and limits on the State Duma and on civil rights?   Explain.

What steps did Stolypin take to strengthen the Imperial government and prevent revolution, and did these succeed?  Explain (do all historians agree?)

What were the goals of the "Stolypin" land reforms, and did peasants approve of these reforms?  Explain (do all historians agree?).   

Do each of the three authors you have read think that Russian society and government was becoming more stable or more unstable by 1911-1914?  Explain.



In what ways did debates over foreign policy reflect larger debates over the nature of Russian government and the need for constitutional reforms in 1900-1914?

In what sense was Russia an "imperialist" state in 1900-1914?  Do all the historians you have read agree on the nature or Russian imperialism?

What led to was between Russia and Japan, and how did that war affect Russia's standing in the international community?

What internal political and external diplomatic pressures seem to have been most important in driving Russia towards war in 1914?



How did Bolshevik leaders (and especially Lenin) understand the reasons for the failure of the 1905 Revolution?

How did Menshevik leaders (and especially Martov) understand the reasons for the failure of the 1905 Revolution?

In 1906-1914, were either the Mensheviks or the Bolsheviks really tightly organized parties in which all members (or even all leaders) agreed on matters of ideology, organization, or tactics?  Explain.

Did all Marxists in Russia agree about WWI?  Explain the factions that formed as a result of disputes over the war.



How did the SR leadership understand the reasons for the failure of the 1905 Revolution?

What were the biggest issues regarding tactics and organization debates by the SR in 1906-1914?  For instance, did all SRs approve of the use of terror as a political tactic? 

Among what social groups did the SRs seem to have to strongest following after the 1905 Revolution and why?

Did all SRs agree about WWI?  Explain the factions that formed as a result of disputes over the war.


James S.

Based upon the three books you read, in 1914 was the Russian Army ready for WWI and had the Russian state taken adequate measures to organize the economy and/or society for the war?

Did the Russian public in general support the war effort in 1914, and did that change between 1914 and 1916? Explain.  (Focus in particular on what you have learned from Helmut Jahn's book.)

Based upon all three books, in what ways had the policies of the military itself contribute to the growing economic and social crises confronting Russia by late 1916?

What does Gatrell's history of refugees during WWI suggest about the effectiveness of the Tsarist government during WWI and how might it help us explain the public's loss of faith in the Tsarist administration?