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Rex A. Wade, The Russian Revolution, 1917 (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2000) Study Questions

Week 2   Pages 17-52

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Ch. 1, pp. 17-28    Ch. 2, pp. 29-52


Chapter 1:  The coming of the revolution, pages 17-28.

According to Wade....

What additional strains did the Great War place on Russian society?

Was Russia well prepared for the war?  What were the consequences?

In terms of human life and material damage, what were the costs of the war to Russia?

What was the attitude of the "educated public" toward the tsarist regime's management of the war effort?

How did the educated public respond to the state's failure to mobilize resources effectively, and what sorts of voluntary and civic organizations were formed during the war?

What was the Progressive Bloc?  What were its aims? 

What happened to hopes for reform in 1915 and what were the political consequences?

What was the political significance of the Rasputin affair?

When the Progressive Bloc's hopes for reform collapsed, what three "directions" toward political change emerged?  What was the approach of Miliukov?  What was the approach of Guchkov (and several military leaders)?  What was the approach of the "left" Kadets?

What impact did the war have on civilian standards of living (particularly in Petrograd), and did the civilian population remain passive in the face of hardships?

What impact did the war have on industrial working conditions?  Worker unrest?  Worker political radicalism?  What was "special" about the workers' strikes of January and February 1917?

Did the socialist parties plan and lead the strikes and demonstrations of January and February 1917?  Explain!  Who was leading the socialist organizations inside Russia in late 1916/early 1917, and what do we know about their activities?

What were the main causes of unrest among soldiers during the war?  What were soldiers' main grievances?

What social groups were represented among rank-and file soldiers, and how did this shape politics among soldiers?  What social groups became heavily represented among junior officers and why was that of political importance?

Were the socialist parties active among the army?  Explain.

Here's the "million dollar question":  what is the thesis of this chapter?


Chapter 2:  The February Revolution, pages 29-52.

22 February 1917

    Why was the 22 February strike at the Putilov factory in Petrograd of such significance?

23 February    

Were the events of 23 February that sparked the revolution planned by socialist party activists?  Explain.

    What were the aims of the women who began demonstrating in Petrograd on 23 February?  How and why did their demonstrations escalate?

    Why were the demonstrations of 23 February implicitly political?

    What in particular was significant about the role of factory activists and soldiers in the events of 23 February?

    Did either the government or the socialist parties understand that a revolution was breaking out on 23 February?  Explain.

24 February

    How did the strikes and demonstrations of 24 February differ from those of the previous day?

    Did the police, soldiers, and cossacks effectively stop the demonstrators on 24 February?  Explain.

    How did the different socialist factions (especially the "moderates" vs the "radicals") respond to the events unfolding on 24 February?

    How did the government respond to the demonstrations on 24 February?

25 February

    How did the demonstrations on 25 February differ from those of previous days?  

    How did the composition of the crowd change on 25 February?

    How did soldiers and cossacks react to the crowd on 25 February, and why was this so important?

    When did moderate socialists begin to realize that the demonstrations might turn into a revolution, and how did their tactic change?

    What elements were more aggressive in promoting worker radicalism?

    While the socialists were trying to organize the crowds on the streets, what were the liberals and moderate conservatives up to?  What did the Duma leaders want, and why?

    How did the government respond to the 25 February demonstrations?

26 February

    In what sense did events on 26 February differ from those of previous days, and why was this so important?

27 February

    What factors motivated soldiers to rebel on 27 February?

    How did the soldiers' revolt begin?  How did it spread?

    At what point did the soldiers' revolt and workers' demonstrations merge and what was the result?

    What were the targets of the crowd's anger on 27 February and why?

    What is significant about the unknown "man in the leather jacket" in the photo on page 41, and what role did people like him play in the revolution?

    Why did 27 February mark a transition in the revolution?

What "two channels" of potential leadership for the revolution emerged on 27 February?

Did the Duma have a legal claim to power or leadership during the "crisis" on 27 February?  Explain.

What pushed unwilling figures like Rodzianko into trying to lead the revolution?

What was the "Temporary Committee of the State Duma" and when and why did it decide to form a new government?  How did it go about doing this?

What impact did the Duma Committee's actions have upon public opinion?  What kind of revolution did the Duma Committee want?

What was the Soviet?  Who organized the Temporary Revolutionary Committee of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies, when, and why?

What groups dominated the Soviet's session of 27 February?  What role did the Soviet's Executive Committee take on and why?

Why was the decision to include soldiers in the Soviet so important?

What was the relationship between the Duma Committee and the Soviet on 27-28 February, what issues concerned both bodies, and why were they able to cooperate?

What 4 major actions had to be taken to consolidate the revolution?

How did the revolutionary leadership defend against attacks from the front? 

Were soldiers loyal to the Duma Committee?

What was Order Number 1 and what impact did it have on soldiers' politics?

Why didn't the generals order attacks on Petrograd?

Why didn't the Soviet form its own government?

What major issues were discussed in the 28 february-2 March debates over creation of a new government?

What was Miliukov's argument about the government's composition?

Why did the Soviet leadership refuse to join the government?

Why did Kerensky join the government?

Under what conditions did the Soviet agree to support the government?

What political groups/parties dominated the new government?  In what sense was this a "moderate" government?

How did the revolution spread to the provinces?  What was the "typical" pattern of events in provincial cities?  Was there great opposition to the revolution in the provinces?  Why was that so important?

Did Nicholas II understand how serious the situation was in Petrograd?

Why didn't the generals want to crush the new government, and why was that so important?

Why did Nicholas abdicate and what became of the Romanov claim to rule?

What is Wade's thesis in this chapter?