‘How far do you agree that the main reason for the failure of the Provisional Government was the decision to continue fighting in the First World War?’
The Bolsheviks were able to seize power from the provisional government in October 1917. Lasting only eight months, the provisional government had been faced with several problems from the very start. Although there were many reasons for the failure of the provisional government, such as the fact they had to share power with the Soviet, the decision to continue fighting in the First World War was the most important. Because of this they lost support from the people and more importantly, from the armed forces, whom they relied on to defend them.
Although I have stated above that there were many reasons for the failure of the provisional government, the reason why I suggest that the war was the most important reason, is because it contributed the most towards creating a volatile environment in the cities. This in turn allowed the Bolsheviks to increase in popularity, which meant that they were able to overthrow the provisional government with little resistance. The provisional government’s failure to put a stop to the war with Germany also meant that the provisional government very quickly lost the support of the majority of the urban working class population of Russia. This was a direct result of the war leading to continued food and supply shortages in the cities, as well as an increase in inflation. This meant that the Bolsheviks’ promise of ‘peace, land and bread’ seem like a more preferable alternative to anything the provisional government had to offer. In addition to this, due to the Germans advancing further into Russia, there was an increasing amount of refugees migrating to the Russian cities of Petrograd and Moscow and these refugees spread tales of alleged atrocities committed by the Germans, which created an atmosphere of fear and impending doom in Petrograd, which only sought to fuel more discontent amongst the common people aimed at the provisional government. However as I have already mentioned in my introduction the most important factor caused by the provisional government’s decision to continue fighting the war which led to the provisional government’s downfall, was the fact that it meant they lost the military support from the soldiers, which they so desperately needed in order to protect them in the event of a revolution so that they could maintain power. But due to the provisional governments choice to continue the war Germany and after the failure of the June offensive, many thousands of soldiers decided to desert the Army/Navy or even join the Bolsheviks, meaning that the provisional government was essential undefended during the October Revolution.
Although I have stated in my last paragraph the reasons why the provisional government’s failure to end the war with Germany was the main reason why the provisional government failed, other factors such as the fact that the provisional government had to share power with the Soviet, as both the Soviet and the provisional government claimed the right to issue laws for Russia. In addition to agricultural under production on top of a complete breakdown of order outside of the major cities due to the provisional governments lack of influence/resources, meant that the effects of the war were felt by the provisional government to an even greater extent when paired with these other factors which all ultimately contributed to the failure of the provisional government. The fact that the provisional government had to share power with the Soviet, ultimately led to its downfall was because this meant that the provisional government’s power was drastically restricted, meaning that it lacked authority in almost all rural regions of Russia (especially in the east). As a result of this, many people saw the provisional government