Question 1. Imagine that you are a striking worker in 1905, who is being tried in court for your act of rebellion. Draft the speech you would make in your defence. Act out your speech for your class.
Answer Your honour and respected citizens. I have not committed any crime. although I am being tried for inciting rebellion. You know how the price of bread has gone up My wages accordingly should have been increased so that my family does not starve. Now-a-days we only eat one meal in a day, as there is no money to buy more food. So what is wrong if I demand increase in wages ?
I am forced to work 12 hours a day, which is inhuman. I have demanded an eight hour working day, which is quite reasonable. Have I committed a crime in that?
Now I leave it in your hand to decide whether I am a criminal or not.
Question 2. Write the headline and a short news item about the uprising of 24th October, 1917 for each of the following newspapers
- A Conservative paper in France
- A Radical newspaper in Britain
- A Bolshevik newspaper in Russia
Answer Do it yourself. However, keep in mind that the conservative French newspaper should be condemning the revolution and predicting its failure, the radical newspaper in Britain should be supporting the revolution and the Bolshevik newspaper should be tomtoming the success of the revolution.
Question 3. Imagine that you are a middle level wheat farmer in Russia after collectivisation. You have decided to write a letter to Stalin explaining your objections to collectivisation. What would you write about the conditions of your life? What do you think would be Stalin’s response to such a farmer?
Answer Do it yourself. However, you should include the following points in the wheat farmer’s letter
- He should tell that he has only limited amount of crops from his land, which is just enough for fulfilling the needs of his family.
- He should request that his land holding should be exempted from collectivisation, otherwise he will have nothing to live on.
In Stalin’s reply, Stalin should enumerate the benefits of collectivisation also refuse gently to exempt him.
Question 1. What were the social economic and political conditions in Russia before 1905?
Answer At the beginning of the 20th century. the vast majority of Russia’s people were agriculturists. About 85 per cent of the Russian empire’s population earned their living from agriculture.
Socialism in Europe and the Russian Revolution
- Cultivators produced for the market as well as for their own needs and Russia was a major exporter of grain.
- Industry was found in pockets. Prominent industrial areas were St Petersburg and Moscow.
- Large factories existed alongside craft workshops.
- Many factories were set up in the 1890s when Russia’s railway network was extended and foreign investment in industry increased.
- Most industries .were the private property of industrialists. The government supervises large factories to ensure minimum wages and limited hours of work.
- Workers were divided into social groups on the basis of skill. Division was also visible in dress and manners also.
- Some workers formed associations to help members in times of unemployment or financial hardship.
- Despite divisions, workers united themselves to strike, work when they disagreed with employers about dismissals or work conditions,
- Like workers, peasants too were divided. They also had no respect for the nobility,
- Russian peasants wanted the land of the nobles to be given to them.
- They pooled their land together periodically and their commune divided it according to the needs of individual families
Question 2. In what ways was the working population in Russia different from other countries in Europe before 1917?
Answer Industrial Workers
The working population in Russia was different from other countries in Europe before 1917 in the following ways
- Many workers had settled in cities permanently but many had strong links with the villages from which they came and continued to live in villages. They went to the towns to work daily and then returned to their villages in the evenings.
- Workers were a divided social group. Workers were divided by skill. Divisions among workers was visible in their dress and manners also.
- Metal workers considered themselves aristocrats among workers as their occupations demanded more training and skill.
- Women made up 31 per cent of the labour force by 1914, but they were paid less then men.
- Some workers formed associations of help in times of unemployment or financial hardship.
- The workers did unite to strike work when they disagreed with the employers about dismissals or about work conditions.
- Workers got low wages and they had long working hours. They had very few political rights; in short, their life was miserable.
- About 85 per cent of Russia’s population earned their living from agriculture but most of them were landless farmers.
- Most of the land was owned by the nobility, the crown and the orthodox church.
- In France, during the French Revolution in Brittany, peasants respected and fought for the landowners, but in Russia peasants wanted the land of the nobles to be given to them.
- They refused to pay rent and even murdered landlords.
- Russian peasants were different from European peasants in another way. They pooled their land together periodically and their commune divided it according to the needs of individual families.
- Like industrial workers, the condition of the agricultural workers or farmers was also very miserable because of low wages, doing free labour and paying high rent and revenue.
Question 3. Why did the Tsarist autocracy collapse in 1917?
Answer The Tsarist autocracy collapsed in 1917 due to the following reasons
(a) Miserable Condition of the Workers
- The industrial workers in Russia got very low wages.
- They had very long working hours, sometimes up to 15 hours.
- A large number of workers were unemployed.
- The workers demanded higher wages and reduction in working hours but their demands were not met and they became dissatisfied.
(b) Miserable Condition of Peasants
- Most of the peasants were landless and very poor.
- They also had to do free labour for the landlords
Socialism in Europe and the Russian Revolution
- The small farmers who possessed land had to pay high land revenue, leaving very less for them to survive on.
- The landless farmers demanded that the land of the nobles should be given to them.
- They wanted reduction of land revenue.
- However, their demands were not fulfilled and they too became dissatisfied.
(c) Russia’s Defeat in the First World War
- Initially, the people rallied around Tsar Nicholas II; however Russian armies suffered defeats and a large number of soldiers were killed in the war.
- The Russian population wanted to withdraw from the war, but the Tsar was not willing to do so. This turned the Russian people against him and encouraged them to revolt.
- Role of Philosophers like Karl Marx Karl Marx put forward the idea that the capitalists were responsible for the misery of the workers and that the condition of workers could only improve if the land and the industries were controlled by the society. He inspired the workers to oppose the landlords _andthe capitalists.
- Rasputin’s Role The people were also against the policies of the monk named Rasputin.
Question 4. Make two lists : one with the main events and the effects of the February Revolution and the other with the main events and the effects of the October Revolution. Write a paragraph on who was involved in each. Who were the leaders and what was the impact of each on the Soviet history.
Answer Main Events and Effects
(a) February, Revolution
- 22 February Lockout of a factory was done on the right bank of the Neva river in Petrograd.
- 23 February Sympathy strike was done by workers in 50 factories. Demonstrating workers reached the centre of the city, surrounding the government buildings. Curfew was imposed and the demonstrators dispersed.
- 24 and 25 February Demonstrations done again by workers. Cavalry and police were called out to control them.
- 25 February Government suspended the Duma (Russian Parliament).
- 26 February Demonstrators returned in force to the streets of the left bank.
- 27 February Workers ransacked the Police Headquarters. Streets were thronged with people shouting slogans demanding bread. better wages. less hours of work and democracy. Cavalry was called out once again, but they refused to fire on the demonstrators. By evening, soldiers and striking workers formed a ‘Soviet’ (council) which was called the Petrograd Soviet.
- 28 February A delegation met the Tsar. Army commanders advised him to abdicate.
- 2 March Tsar abdicates. Duma leaders and others form a provisional government.
Who was Involved; the Leaders and Its Impact Both men and women workers were involved. There were no particular leaders. The effect was that it brought down the autocratic monarchy.
(b) October Revolution
- 16 October Lenin persuades the Petrograd Soviet and Bolshevik Party to agree to a socialist seizure of power. Military Revolutionary Committee to manage this operation was formed.
- 24 October Uprising starts, but government troops seize buildings of two Bolshevik newspapers. The Winter Palace and other buildings were also protected by troops. The Military Revolutionary Committee seized the government offices and arrested the ministers. The ship Aurora shelled the winter palace. By nightfall, the city was under the Committee’s control and the remaining ministers had surrendered.
Who was Involved, the Leaders and Its Impact Bolsheviks were the main people involved. Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky were _the main leaders. The effect was that it brought the Bolsheviks to power to form a communist government for the first time in the world.
Question 5. What were the main changes brought about by the Bolsheviks immediately after the October Revolution?
Answer The main changes brought about by the Bolsheviks immediately after the October Revolution were
- The Bolsheviks were totally opposed to private property.
Therefore most industries and banks were nationalised
Socialism in Europe and the Russian Revolution
- Land was declared social property and peasants were allowed to seize the land of the nobility.
- In cities, Bolsheviks enforced the partition of large houses according to family requirements.
- They banned the use of old titles of the aristocracy.
- To assert the change, new uniforms were designed for the army and officials in 1918 in which the Soviet hat, the (budenovka) was chosen.
- The Bolshevik Party was renamed the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik). .
- Russia became a one party state and trade unions were kept under party control.
- For the first time the Bolsheviks introduced a centralised planning on the basis of which Five Year Plans were made for development of Russia.
Question 6. Write a few lines to show what you know about
- The Duma
- Women workers between 1900 and 1930
- The Liberals
(a) Kulaks Kulaks were the well to do peasants of Russia. The members of the Bolshevik party raided the Kulaks and their goods were seized. It was believed that the Kulaks were exploiting the peasants and hoarding grain to earn higher profits and thus leading to grain shortages.
(b) The Duma
- During the 1905· Revolution, the Tsar allowed the creation of an elected consultative Parliament or Duma as it was called in Russia.
- The Tsar dismissed the first Duma within 75 days and the second Duma was elected within three months.
- The third Duma was packed with conservative politicians. Liberals and revolutionaries were kept au! of the Duma.
(c) Women Workers between 1900 and 1930
- Women made up 31 per cent of the factory labour force by 1914, but they were paid less than men.
- In the February Revolution in many factories the women led the way to strikes. Thus, 22 February came to be called the International Women’s Day.
- Marfa Vasileva stopped work and declared a strike, the women workers in the factory were ready to support her. Soon the men also joined them and all of them moved to the streets.
(d) The Liberals
- The liberals were one of the groups which wanted to change the society. The liberals wanted Cl nation which tolerated all religions.
- At that time the European states usually discriminated in favour one religion or another.
- Liberals also opposed the uncontrolled power of dynastic rulers. They wanted to safeguard the rights of the individuals against governments.
- They argued for a representative elected Parliamentary Government subject to laws interpreted by a well trained Judiciary that was independent of rulers and officials.
- They did not believe in universal adult franchise, i.e., the right of every citizen to vote. They felt that men of property mainly should have the right to vote. They did not want the vote for women.