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An overview of the bolsheviks in world war two in russia

A Social and Economic History Book: University of Sunderland Citation: A Social and Economic History, review no. After the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917, the memory of the war was subsumed into the history of the revolutionary process.

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The war was a difficult subject for the new rulers of Soviet Russia, since they viewed it as an expansionist conflict, embarked upon by Russia — and the other European Great Powers — as an inevitable consequence of their imperialist ambitions.

Despite the death of some two million An overview of the bolsheviks in world war two in russia soldiers during the war, the Bolshevik regime concentrated on the events of 1917 in their historical treatment of the period, seeing the war as almost incidental to the triumphal progress of the revolutionary movement. Gatrell draws on a very wide range of scholarship — both Russian and western — to provide the first single-volume history of the impact of the war on Russian economy and society.

The book begins with an account of the military dimension of the war, analysing not just Tsarist military performance but also the direct impact of mobilisation on the population.

The Soviet-German War 1941 - 1945

Gatrell is well placed to appreciate the social impact of the military disasters that befell Russia in 1914 and 1915: Refugees in Russia during World War One Bloomington, 1999 to discuss the enormous population displacement that accompanied the Russian retreats of the first two years of the war. Military reverses had a direct impact on the ordinary people of Russia and Gatrell gives a vivid depiction of the chaos and confusion that ensued from defeat, as peasant families had to abandon their farm machinery and other basic items of rural life.

Gatrell suggests that the war again showed how far apart the government was from educated society, but he is careful not to labour the point. The Russian social elite remained committed to achieving victory in the war and made significant efforts to assist the national war effort.

Urban and rural local government united around the Union of Towns and the Union of Zemstvos, while business established war industries committees to help in the mobilisation of the Russian economy.

The civilian administration was much less inclined to cooperate with these efforts than the military, allowing the divisions between Russian elites to deepen. In some ways, Russia was in a strong position to withstand the stresses that war placed on its economy: Difficulties arose, however, in transporting raw materials to the main manufacturing centres: The army took many skilled workers and the stresses on those remaining in factories grew as the war progressed.

The First World War was an expensive conflict, requiring sustained expenditure on arms and military equipment by the state. It cost Russia fifteen times more than the Russo-Japanese war of 1904—5 and the government had to resort to financing the war by taking out loans and printing money.

As a result, inflation roared ahead: Gatrell shows that retail prices in Moscow doubled in the first two years of the war and then accelerated dramatically in 1916 and early 1917, more than trebling in twelve months.

Food supply, however, presented more severe difficulties. The agricultural labour an overview of the bolsheviks in world war two in russia fell significantly during the war, and this drop also concealed important changes in the composition of the workforce.

By 1916, women outnumbered men by more than two to one, with many of these men being those who were too old to be conscripted into the army. Gatrell shows that, despite this, the levels of agricultural production did not fall dramatically during the war. Food supply problems arose because government intervention to ensure the army was fed and to control prices disrupted an overview of the bolsheviks in world war two in russia sophisticated system of grain distribution.

The changes in the distribution of the population brought about by the concentration of the army in the west and the movements of refugees destabilised the distribution system for food. Local authorities attempted to prevent grain leaving their own regions, while government price controls meant that some peasant farmers were unwilling to market their grain.

Even though, as Gatrell pointed out, there had been more severe food shortages in Russia in the previous an overview of the bolsheviks in world war two in russia years, the problems experienced during the war were blamed firmly on the inadequacy of the government. The revolution that overwhelmed Nicholas II appeared to offer the opportunity for Russian society to coalesce around the new Provisional Government. The political pressures that destroyed any consensus during 1917 have been exhaustively analysed elsewhere, and Gatrell shows how these strains were reflected in economic issues.

Russia Wouldn’t Even Exist Today Without the Bolsheviks

Ordinary Russians turned on the state and the social elite as political and economic anarchy intensified across the empire. Their actions were reciprocated: The failure of the Provisional Government was comprehensive and opened the way for the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917.

Four months later, Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany and its participation in the First World War ended, but civil war and foreign intervention meant that Bolshevik Russia continued to be at war until early 1921. The disruption that an overview of the bolsheviks in world war two in russia Russia after the February revolution and the toppling of the Tsar accelerated a process of economic and social collapse that had gathered pace during late 1916, but it is impossible to disentangle this from the effects of military uncertainty in the wake of the revolution.

Russian Civil War

Gatrell recognises these difficulties in his penultimate chapter by concentrating on the issues that were affecting the Russian people as the war progressed: Gatrell argues that most of the problems that Russia encountered during the war were common to the main combatant states. Each of them had difficulty in making the change to a war economy and shortages of equipment were not confined to Russia.

Food supply was also a problem, especially in Germany and Italy, while violence and revolution were not confined to Russia at the end of the war. The German and Austro-Hungarian monarchies collapsed under the weight of military defeat; civil war engulfed Ireland and Finland in the aftermath of war while Hungary experienced a short-lived revolution.

The First World War also exacerbated social tensions across Europe. Gatrell suggests that antagonism grew between social groups as ordinary people grew more and more resentful of the privations that they were enduring, while traditional elites prospered.

He suggests that the revolution of 1905 had left many problems unsolved for Russian society, but does not link this argument firmly enough to the effects of war.

Russian industry found it difficult to transform itself to a war footing, the rural world was hit by the conscription of peasant men into the army and the transport system proved to be inadequate to cope with transporting millions of soldiers and all the equipment and material they needed to fight a prolonged war.

Refugees streamed eastwards during 1914 and 1915 in their tens of thousands, further disrupting a society already strained by war itself. Price inflation intensified during 1916 and 1917, deepening the economic crisis for ordinary Russians. Gatrell is right that 1905 failed to resolve any of the questions that confronted the Russian state at the beginning of the twentieth century, but the First World War introduced a further set of political, economic and social issues that made it impossible for the Tsarist regime to survive.

Russia was unique in both the range and the depth of problems that it faced during the war, so that the collapse of political authority after February 1917 was accompanied by economic meltdown and social atomisation.

The Bolsheviks found it difficult an overview of the bolsheviks in world war two in russia commemorate the war and the millions who died during it, not just because the October revolution superseded the war, but also because it was inconvenient to recognise that their own revolution had occurred through the suffering an overview of the bolsheviks in world war two in russia ordinary Russians during the war.

Bolshevik memorialisation of their revolution stressed the heroic actions of their supporters in October 1917, not the privations endured by Russians during years of war that Gatrell describes so well.