Russian Reform and Revolution


1922                                                                                Russia became the Soviet Union and changed the shape. Siberia, which was unaerable, which means it, is not able to grow stuff, so they sent convicts there.


1700-1800s                             Enlightened Peter the Great. Progress was so slow because Napoleon never got that far, although his ideas gave a glimmer.  Persia becomes Iran. Railroads are in the west to connect to the rest of Europe. Languages, cultures, and climate in Russia are difficulties.



  1. Attained some freedoms
  2. More taxes
  3. People moved to cities
  4. Took land control away from land owner (Emancipation to free serf [from Alexander])


Anarchy: No government

Nihilists: Get rid of the present government and start a completely new government

Russification: Leads to pogroms during Alexander III and Nicolas II.



Killing of the Tsar and his family


-Lenin takes the family to a place to kill them-Parents, 4 daughters, 1 son (Alex), and the dog

-The bodies were all found except Anastasia













Years Ruled



Alexander I


·        No

·        Supported Education

·        Decreased Censorship

Nicholas I


·        Secret Police

·        Increased Censorship

·        Banned books

·        No

Alexander II


·        Nah

·        Freed Serfs

·        Modernization

·        Local governments (zemstovs)

·        Reduced military service terms

Alexander III


·        Power of secret police increased

·        Russification

·        Pogroms

·        Nah

Nicholas II


·        Suspends Duma

·        Bloody Sunday

·        Elected Legislature (Duma)











  1. Why was Russia called the colossus?


Russia was the largest, most populous nation in Europe by 1815, and other countries in Europe were both owned by, and suspicious of Russia. It had great resources and its vast size made its interest global-but it had an autocratic government with expansionist aims.


  1. What is an autocracy?

A government in which one person rules with unlimited authority called autocracy-Russia’s rulers had maintained an autocracy for many years.


  1. Why did the Russian Empire have very little industrialization?

Peter the Great and Catherine the Great were rulers who wanted to westernize Russia-but it was difficult to do. The slow industrialization in Russia was due to its deeply entrenched economy and a rigid social structure-it was still governed by agricultural serfdom.


  1. What is meant by the “cycle of reform-repression-reform” that plagued Russia under the tsars?

The tsars would try reforms for a short time and then it would backfire-so the next tsar would be a reactionary and “crack down” on any liberal ideas. (See sheet on tsars)


  1. Who were the Decembrists?

They were a group of military officers who were in secret societies-these socialists wanted economic reforms, a constitutional government, and the freeing of serfs. Nicolas I had just become tsar (after Alexander I’s death) and the Decembrists tried a military revolt.


  1. Who was tsar when the Decembrists revolted-and how did he react to the revolt?

Nicolas his government and I put down this revolt, but the close call made Nicolas I become a ruler of reactionary repression. For example, the secret police had unlimited power to arrest and imprison people.


  1. After the Decembrist revolted, how ere the Decembrist remembered?

They were remembered as inspirational martyrs to later generations of revolutionaries.


  1.  How did emancipation change the lives of Russian serfs?

Alexander II known as Tsar Liberator, freed the serfs in 1861, and this meant many changes. Peasants were given some freedom, but they had to pay heavy mortgages and taxes-many left land to work in cities.


  1. What were the zemstvos?

Locally elected assemblies set up after emancipation took away power. There was a downside for peasants because voting was weighted so that the wealthy and nobility dominated.




  1. What were some of the other reforms of Alexander II?  Aside from emancipation and establishing the zemstvos.

Alex II modernized the judicial system, limited the authority of the secret police, expanded the education system, and reduced the rime men had to serve in the army-and although he gave some freedom to the press; it was not completely free to print whatever it wanted.


  1. Who was left unsatisfied by Alex II’s reforms? And what is the difference between anarchy and nihilism?

Many intellectuals and students thought that Alex’s reforms didn’t go far enough. Anarchy is the absence of any government. While Nihilism called for the destruction of government and completely rebuilding it into a new society. 


  1. Alexander II was assassinated and his son, Alexander III took his place. What were his policies?

Alexander III reversed many of his father’s reforms and he went one more step-Russification to awaken nationalism, but it had an opposite affect because of a pogrom intolerance and persecution of non-Russians.


  1. Who were the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks?

They were two revolutionary groups. Mensheviks believed that the working class would lead the Revolution when Russia became more industrialized. The Bolsheviks (led by Lenin) believed that a small party of professional revolutionaries could use force to bring about a socialist society in the near future.


  1. Who did the peasants usually react to revolutionaries who tried to interest them in Socialist society?

Most peasants looked on them with suspicion and distrust.


  1. What were there three causes of growing dissatisfaction during the reign of Nicolas II?

There was the growing persecution of national minorities the poor conditions of urban factory workers and middle class desire for a more democratic government.


  1. Why was the outcome of the Russo-Japanese War so economically devastating to Russia?

IT strained the economy and had the result of increasing food prices while keeping low wages. Emotionally strained because Japan-a small country beat them because they were industrialized, and Russia underestimated them.  


















  1. List three reasons why World War I was the breaking point for tsarist rule in Russia:

A)     Army morale reached a bottom: lack of equipment, food, etc. They were losing because of Nicolas II’s bad direction.

B)     Transportation is bad-made food storage worse

C)    Nearly all country’s resources went to wars supplying troops, so economics/human costs unbelievable.


  1. How was Nicolas II’s handling both the war and the government incompetently?

WAR: Russia was losing the war badly-people saw it as his fault


GOVERNMENT: Dissolved the Duma for criticizing him.


OVEALL: Nicolas took over command of Eastern front and he left his wife and Rasqut in charge of the country.


  1. The March revolution was unique because of both its leadership and its costs. Explain why.

LEADERSHIP: It occurred spontaneously by the people, without military intellectuals to direct them.


COSTS: Relativity little loss of life.


  1. Identify Alexander Kerensky’s political stand and his roles in government.

He was a moderate socialist who served first as the minister of justice and then as its prime minister. He was a member of the executive committee.


  1. List the three goals of the soviets throughout the Russia.


A.      Immediate peace

B.      Transfer of land to the peasants

C.     Control of factories by the workers (Marxist)


  1. Explain why the provisional government stayed in the war, despite public opposition.

They were intensely pressured by Allies to keep fighting.


  1. Explain how the beliefs of the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks determined their plans to fill the vacuum left by the struggling provisional government.

A.     The Mensheviks had no solid plans to seize the government because they thought a socialist revolution would be a slow process (the masses would have to do it).

B.      Bolsheviks wanted to take government by force because they thought a smaller number of revolutionaries could force a revolution faster.



  1. Describe Lenin’s background from birth to his return to Russia in 1917.

Lenin was born in 1870-he had middle-class parents. Lenin was strongly affected by his brother’s execution for plotting the death of Alexander III. Lenin was arrested in 1895, exiled to Siberia, and then went abroad to await his comeback to Russia. Germany helped him return after the March 1917 Revolution.


  1. Explain why the Bolshevik revolution of November 1917 was relatively bloodless. 

The leader of the Provisional government quickly surrendered because Bolsheviks had seized control of the major forms of communication, electric power, and transportation. They then turned the guns of warship Aurora on the winter place where the government was headquartered.


  1. Describe the goals of the three groups who made up the Whites.

A.     Royalists wanted to reinstate the czar

B.      Middle-class liberals wanted a capitalist democracy

C.     Moderate socialists wanted both democracy and a state-controlled economy


  1. List the Russian provinces lost to Germany in the Treaty of Brest.

The Baltic provinces of Ukraine and Poland


  1. List the three repressive measures taken by Lenin to strengthen his control during the civil war.

A.     Lenin ordered the deaths of Nicolas II and his family

B.      Set up secret police (Checka) to arrest antirevolutionary who were extremely aggressive.

C.     He placed severe restrictions on the Russian Orthodox Church.






Russia Notes: The Soviet Union

  1. Review: After Lenin signed the Treat of Brest-Litovsk with Germany, and surrendered so much territory, a civil war ensued. What were the two sides in the civil war called?  Who won?

Answer: Reds and the Whites. The Reds won the civil war.

  1. How many Russian people died as a result of WWI, the civil war, disease and starvation by the year 1921?

27 million

  1. Define Nationalism:

Government own and controls all major industries and natural resources.

  1. List the major elements of Lenin’s New Economic Policy (NEP)
    1. Some private businesses were permitted

B.  Some farmers could own land and sell products.

  1. How did the NEP deviate from Marx’s theory?

Communist theory permits no privately owned businesses or farms.

  1. What did Russia change its name to in 1922? What was the significance of this name change?

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics-Indicates important changes: now communists are in charge!

  1. Who are the proletariat and did they really control the government?

They are the workers-in theory, the workers were supposed to control the state, but in reality, communist party leaders were in control.

  1. What was Lenin’s policy toward non-Russians in the Soviet Union?

Non-Russians were given their own republics, but Lenin’s government still had tight control over important matters.

  1. Look at the map (in your textbook) on page 738. Why was the land regained by 1922 so valuable to the nation?

This land game Russia greater access to the Black Sea and created a larger buffer region between Germany and Russia.

  1. Lenin died in 1922 and two people wanted his position. What were the opinions of Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin about the direction the Soviet Union should take?

Trotsky believed that the perfect socialist society could be built in the Soviet Union only when the Russian Revolution had sparked uprising worldwide. Stalin believed that socialism could and should be built in the Soviet Union.

  1. Stalin won leadership even though Trotsky really had a better chance – what happened to Trotsky?

Killed in Mexico…. Did Stalin order it? Probably because evidence points to him.



  1. How did Stalin’s Five Year-Plan affect the Soviet Union?
    1. Industry: The focus was on building heavy industry-especially iron and steel production with limited production on consumer good.
    2. Collectivization farms: Government took farms and forced peasants to farm and meet production quotes.
  2. What three outcomes did Stalin Intend for collectivization?
    1. The production of enough food for the people and for export
    2. Money from exported food to pay for industrialization
    3. The system would intimidate the peasants.
  3. Who were the kulaks?

Most prosperous peasants who opposed collectivization, many were sent to prison or Siberia.

  1. How did Stalin ensure the compliance of the Soviet people?

He used terror and fear- Powerful secret police encouraged spying and suspected dissidents were exiled to Siberian labor camps or shot. Stalin did not invent these tactics-they were also used by two contemporaries Hitler and Mussolini. 

  1. Did the 5-Year-Plan industrialize the USSR? (Yes) Were the people happy? (No)
  2. What does purge mean? How did Stalin deal with people he believed to be a threat to him?

To “purge” meant to remove people from positions where they could threaten Stalin. In the Great Purge, Stalin had many Communists removed from the party, arrested and send to labor caps. And shot. He had some old Bolsheviks removed from their positions, arrested, and tried for crimes they did not commit.

  1. Which world leaders do you suspect continue to use secret police even today?

Iran, Iraq, Libya, old Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

  1. How were artists restricted under Stalin?

They were required to point out the achievements and heroes, and dispel negative rumors in their work. If they did not, they were exiled or imprisoned. (Socialist realism)

  1. The arts were really used for propaganda.

Hitler and Mussolini did this too-but Stalin was the most extreme.











Vocabulary Terms:


  1. Peter the Great: Czar of Russia who along with Catherine the Great expanded Russia on the Baltic and Black Seas. They tried to westernize Russia, but it didn’t work.
  2. Catherine the Great: ((See above))
  3. Autocracy: A government in which one person rules with unlimited authority called autocracy. Russia’s rulers had maintained an autocracy for many years.
  4. Tsar/Czar:


  1. Russification: A program aimed at the suppressing the cultures of non-Russian peoples within the Russian empire. It was enforced by Alexander II and insisted on one language-Russian, and one church-Russian Orthodox. Leg to pogroms during Alexander III and Nicolas II.
  2. Alexander I:


  1. Nicolas I: Came into power after Alexander I in 1820, and crushed the Decembrist Revolt and “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationalism” under absolutism was his motto.
  2. Absolutism: Political theory stating that monarchs hold supreme power and are responsible for their actions to God alone.
  3. Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationalism”: Nicolas I embraced the three pillars of Russian absolutism symbolized in this motto. Orthodoxy referred to the strong ties between the
  4. Alexander III:


  1. “Tsar Liberator”:


  1. Alexander III:


  1. Nicolas II:


  1. Empress Alexandra:



  1. Gregori Rasputin:


  1. Anarchy: No government
  2. Nihilism: The nihilists wanted to get rid of the present government and start a completely new government.
  3. Emancipation: After being pressed for reforms from all sides, Alexander II issued a royal decree called emancipation, which freed the serfs.
  4. Decembrist Revolt: An uprising led by a group of army officers after the death of Alexander I because they had picked up liberal ideas when fighting Napoleon in Western Europe. They wanted a constitution and other reforms.
  5. Zemstovs: Locally elected assemblies set up after emancipation took away power. There was a downside for peasants because voting was weighted so that the wealthy and nobility dominated.
  6. Colossus: Russia was called the colossus because its was the largest, most populous nation in Europe by 1815, and other countries in Europe were both owned by, and suspicious of Russia. It had great resources and its vast size made its interest global-but it had an autocratic government with expansionist aims.
  7. Pogroms: Groups of violent mob attacks on Jews encouraged by Russification.
  8. Bloody Sunday”: An Orthodox priest organized a peaceful march to the czar’s winter palace, and has a petition to the czar for reforms. The czar’s people told him to leave, and the guards stood outside the palace injuring and killing hundreds of people. This led to the Russian Revolution because the people thought the czar was betraying them.
  9. Duma: An elected national legislature, which Nicolas II agreed to after, he promised “freedom of person, conscience, speech, assembly, and union” in the October Manifesto. He declared that no law would go into effect with out its approval, but at its first meeting it was dissolved. 
  10. October Manifesto: Nicholas II announced this after much uprising due to Bloody Sunday. In this he promised freedom of  ____________ and also had a Duma. This won over modernists and left socialists (led by Lenin) out.
  11. Revolution of 1905: After Bloody Sunday which forced the czar to order the October Manifesto.
  12. March Revolution: When disasters on the battlefields and food and fuel shortage forced unhappiness of the people.
  13. Proletariat: The growing class of factory and railroad workers, miners, and urban wage owners.
  14. Karl Marx: At factory gates, socialists handed out pamphlets that preached the revolutionary ideas of Karl Marx.
  15. Vladimir Ilyicch Lenin:


  1. Peace, Land, and Bread



  1. November Revolution:


  1. Bolsheviks: Revolutionary group led by Lenin who believed that a small party of professional revolutionaries could us force to bring about a socialist society in the near future.
  2. Soviet:


  1. Red Army: The Communist Party
  2. White Army (Whites): The counterrevolutionaries which were made up of three groups: A- Royalists who wanted to reinstate the czar

B- Middle-class liberals who wanted a capitalist democracy

C-Moderate socialists who wanted both democracy and a state-controlled economy

  1. Cheka: A secret police organized by the Communists. They executed ordinary citizens even if they were only suspected of taking action against the Cheka
  2. Provisional Government:


  1. New Economic Policy: After peasants stopped producing grain out of anger, Lenin adopted this policy in 1921, which allowed some capitalist ventures such as:

1)      Allowing small businesses to reopen for private profit

2)      Peasants being able to freely sell their surplus of crops. 

  1. Treaty of Brest-Litovsk:


  1. Leon Trotsky:


  1. Alexander Kerensky:


  1. Joseph Stalin:


  1. Maxim Gorky:


  1. Stalin’s Five Year Plan:


  1. Commissar: Communist party officials assigned to the army to teach party principles and ensure party loyalty.
  2. Nationalization: Converting an industry from private ownership to government ownership “those who eat must work” was the principle behind it. It required everyone from ages 16-50 to hold a job.
  3. Dictatorship of the Proletariat:



  1. Collective/ Collectivization: Large farms owned and operated by peasants as a group. The peasants were permitted to keep their houses and personal belonging, but all farm animals and implements were to be turned over to the collective. The state set all prices and controlled access to farm supplies.
  2. Kulak: Wealthy peasants who Stalin sought to destroy by confiscating their land and sending them to labor camps. Thousands of them were killed or died from overworking.
  3. Command Economy: Government officials made all basic economic decisions. Under Stalin, the government owned all businesses and allocated financial resources.
  4. USSR: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Soviet Union that was the new government which united much of the old Russian Empire. It was a multinational state made up of European and Asian peoples. In theory, all the member republics shared certain equal rights.
  5. Purge (Great Purge): A reign of terror which Stalin and his secret police cracked down especially on Old Bolsheviks (party activists from the early days). They also attacked army heroes, industrial managers, writers, and ordinary citizens. Over 4 million people were purged during the Stalin years, and they increase his power.
  6. Atheism: The belief that there is no god, which became the official state policy in accordance with the ideas of Karl Marx. The party seized religious property and converted churches into offices and museums. Many priests and other religious leaders were killed or died in prison camps.
  7. Comintern: Communist International which aided revolutionary groups around the world and urged colonial peoples to rise up against imperialist powers which was formed by Lenin.
  8. Totalitarian State: Stalin turned Russia into a state in which a one-party dictatorship attempts to regulate every aspect of the lives of its citizens.
  9. Socialist Realism: Stalin forced writers to this style of ___________so that it could boost socialism by showing soviet life in a positive light.