The October Revolution, 1917
Episode #7 of the course “Revolutions that changed the world”
The October Revolution’s main event was a coup that took place on October 24, 1917, but it was months in the making. The October Revolution completely changed the Russian government, pushing them toward a communist regime. The uprising was led by Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, known simply as Lenin, founder of the Bolshevik political party (who later changed their name to the Communist Party).
In the beginning of 1917, the Bolsheviks were a minority organization and many of their leaders, including Lenin, had been exiled. Germany allowed Lenin to pass through Germany untouched because they hoped that he would undermine Russia’s power in World War I, which was occurring at the same time. When Lenin began revolution, a provisional government was in place. The provisional government was not supposed to remain in place forever, so they were looking for some other form of government to take its place, particularly because the Russians were unhappy with the decision to enter and remain involved in World War I.
The people of Russia were also unhappy because of the country’s severe economic problems. They wanted to own and control their own land, and those demands were not met. In addition, the Soviets appeared during this time. They were basically councils of people who ran local government. Although they were disorganized, they were still elected, which made them appealing. Lenin latched on to them because it made the people feel like they had a voice, which thereby appealed to the majorities. Lenin gradually increased public support leading up to the revolution.
Lenin planned and staged a coup in October. He took over Petrograd Soviet, and the Red Guards took over the city. They arrested the members of the provisional government and proclaimed a new government—Russia, ruled by the Soviets. He created a Congress of Soviets who then supported the Bolshevik agenda.
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