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Soviet Russia, Fall 2001 

Week 2 Linked Documents Assignment

This assignment has three parts.  Do all three!

You will find three documents linked to this page:  Vladimir Lenin "On the Two Lines in the Revolution" (at; The Abdication of Nikolai II, March 15, 1917
(at; and The First Provisional Government (at

Go to Part One    Part Two    Part Three


I) Lenin's essay "On the Two Lines in the Revolution" was first published in the journal Sotsial-Demokrat in Fall 1915, during the First World War.   Lenin  was responding to the positions taken during the war by G. Plekhanov (a founder of Russian Marxism, who had sided with the Mensheviks when the RSDLP split into factions, and who argued that Russian socialists must support the government's "just" war against German militarism).

Question:  In 1915, what did Lenin think of the "traditional" Russian marxist view that the revolution would be based upon a liberal-socialist alliance (a worker/peasant-middle class coalition), which would end tsarism and create a democratic capitalist regime, and that the socialist revolution could only come later (after liberal capitalism had developed more fully and its contradictions were clear)?  Explain Lenin's argument and the evidence/example that he presented.

Link to the document: Vladimir Lenin "On the Two Lines in the Revolution" (at


II) On 2 March 1917 (Old Style--15 March using the "new" calendar), Tsar Nicholas II abdicated.  This document is his abdication decree, followed by the 3/16 March 1917 declaration by his brother, Grand Duke Mikhail (Michael)..

Questions:  How did Nicholas justify his decision to abdicate power and to whom did he pass power?  How did Mikhail justify his decision not to assume power?

Link to the document:  The Abdication of Nikolai II, March 15, 1917


III) The document here entitled "The First Provisional Government" is actually new government's first "decree," announcing its formation.  It was published in the newspaper of the Petrograd Soviet, Izvestiia, on 3 March 1917 (OS, 15 March by the new calendar).

Questions:  How did the new government describe the overthrown Tsarist regime?  On the basis of what authority did the new government claim to be legitimate?  What political parties were represented in the new government?  What immediate aims did the new government pronounce, and in what ways did these represent its need to secure support from the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies?

Link to document:  The First Provisional Government (at

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