Essay on Russia And The Soviet Union

Submitted By kierenyoung
Words: 1703
Pages: 7

Russia and the Soviet Union
Russian Society
The Peasants-
Until 1861- the peasants had been serfs, slaves of their landlords with no rights, no freedom and no land of their own
Tsar Nicholas II grandfather, Tsar Alexander II freed the peasants from serfdom and allowed them to own the land
Being freed from serfdom on these conditions did not improve the lives of the peasants
Mirs divided up the land in the communes and gave it out to each family according to its needs that year: The bigger the family, the bigger the plot of land it was given
Meant that peasants found it harder each year to support their families while trying to keep up with redemption payments
1900’s- every four out of five of the Russian Empire were peasants
The Town Workers-
Many peasants tried to improve their lives by going to work in the nearest town or city
There, they would work in factories or mines until harvest time, when they returned to their communes
Workers were unable to improve their conditions
Employers easily replaced troublesome workers- long queues of unemployed people outside their factory gates looking for work
The Rich-
Russian nobles were fabulously rich- one percent of the Russian population, which they owned around 25% of all the land
By 1900, a new class of Russians was also becoming rich- THE CAPITALISTS who made money from banking, industry and trade
With easy profits to be made the capitalists did little improve the conditions of their workers
Hatred of the capitalists steadily grew in the slums and boarding houses of Russia’s cities
The Russian Empire In 1900
The land and the climate-
Much of land is useless
The High mountains are a good defence
Russia is mostly useless for farming- cold air from the Arctic Ocean
The cold climate affected Russia’s industry and commerce as well as farming
In the Arctic Circle the land is “tundra” where nothing grows except moss and small shrubs
For more than 1000km south of the tundra stretches the “taiga”, cold land covered in forests of pine trees
It is only in the warmer regions of the south-west that the soil can be used for farming
In 1900, only 5% of all Russian land was used for farming: the rest lay waste
An Empire of Many People’s-
In 1900’s, Russia was a great empire ruled by a Tsar, or Emperor- Nicholas II
About 125 million people lived in Tsar Nicholas’ empire
The people of the Russian Empire were not spread evenly throughout the country
Most lived on the 5 percent of land that was good for farming- cold lands of Siberia, east of the Ural mountains, were therefore thinly populated, while the fertile land of the south- west and the streets of the cities were often overcrowded
Revolutionary Groups in Russia-
Bolsheviks- Urban working class, soldiers in the army during WWI, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky: Alliance between working class and peasants, rapid overthrow of the Tsar and the middle class to attain socialism
Mensheviks- urban working class, some lawyers and other professionals, cautious socialists, Julius Martov, Fedor Dan: Cooperation with the middle class to overthrow the Tsar followed by steady progress to socialism
Socialist Revolutionaries- peasants, some moderate urban socialists, Alexander Kerensky: Land reform to benefit the peasants
Cadets- Progressive landlords and industrialists, many lawyers and other professionals, Paul Miliukov, Prince Luov: A constitutional monarchy like the English model
Octobrists- wealthy land and factory owners monarchists, Alexander Guchkov, Mikhael Rodzianko: Supporter of the 1905 October Manifesto, A duma- but with the Tsar retaining most power
Bolsheviks- Would have attracted most support from the Russian people because their policies supported an alliance between working class and peasants
The 1905 Revolution
War against Japan-
In 1904, Russia goes to war with Japan over the control of Korea and Manchuria in the Far East
Tsar Nicholas believed a quick victory would make him popular and stop criticism from the people about the