AS History Paper 2 - Russia 1903-1941 Feedback Please?Watch this thread
1 (i) 'Explain why the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks split in 1903' (8 marks)
I wrote- The split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks was largely personal and a clash of personalities between Lenin and Martov. Lenin led the Bolsheviks (the majority) and desired small centralised leadership with highly disciplined and professional revolutionaries. This should operate under centralised leadership with a system of 3 cells to make it harder for the police to infiltrate them. Martov led the Mensheviks (the minority) he advocated open debate and wanted a larger broader base and take in all members who wished to join. They also desired to postpone revolution until conditions improved etc.
1 (ii) 'The Tsar's response to Bloody Sunday was the important reason for the Revolution in 1905 in Russia' To what extent would you agree with this statement? (22 marks)
I addressed how the Tsar was absent from Petrograd. He damaged his own reputation as it was believed that he ordered the troops to open fire and this weakened this idea if him as the 'Little Father' of Russia. This also undermined the reputation of the monarchy. I addressed how Bloody Sunday was the spark that ignited the Revolution and how Father Gabon led 150,000 protesters in St. Peter's berg. I then addressed the long term factors. Poor living conditions for peasants and urban workers. The peasants made up 77% of the population and this made their sheer size a threat to Tsarism. I stated how their lives were difficult and unremitting. In 1891 a year of poor harvests costed 400,000 lives. Many peasants were prone to drunkenness and securely transmitted diseases. Living conditions were appalling. Urban workers also experienced poor working and living conditions. The 1897 census showed how literacy rates stood at 57.8% which was twice the national average. This enabled them to articulate their grievances and were receptive to revolutionary ideas. In 1914,two fifths were working in factories of over 100,000 workers and this made it much easier to organise strike action. Lack of political reform as the Tsar was an autocrat and political freedom was not allowed. The use of repression through the Okrana(secret police) and the policy of Russification generated unrest and encouraged strikes and protests as many national minorities had to adopt to the Russian language, wear Russian styled clothes and conform to Russian customs. Then short term factors I addressed Witte's economic policy and the Russo-Japanese War.
3 (i) 'Explain the weaknesses of the Whites in The Russian Civil War between 1918-1921' (8 marks)
The Whites did not possess the leadership, organisation, commitment and resources to rival the Reds in the Civil War. The only thing they had in common was that they were Anti-Bolshevik. There was disunity and deep divisions and squabbles between the Liberals, Socialists and Monarchists. The whites tended to fight regionally rather than nationally which hindered their progress. There was indiscipline and corruption as in Omsk (Admiral Kolchak's base) many White Generals lived in brothels in a haze of vodka and cocaine. Many white generals found it difficult to co-operate with one another. Foreign intervention was half hearted and largely ineffective and large distances made communications very difficult etc.
3 (ii) 'The weaknesses of the Provisional Government solely explain the success of the Bolsheviks seizure of power in October 1917' How far do you accept this verdict?'(22 marks)
I addressed the makeup of the Provisional Government and how it was set up on the 2nd of March. I talked about how Prince GE Lvov served as Prime Minister, Milyukov served as Minister of War and Kernesky serves as Foreign Minister. I then addressed how the Provisional government lacked credibility and authority. I addressed the weakness of continuing the war- the major summer offensive against Germany which proved a complete disaster. It lead to the July Days a small armed uprising in Petrograd. I then addressed the failure of delaying elections and not allowing for land redistribution and eventually this really antagonised the peasants with 237 land seizures by the Summer of 1917. The economy was already fragile but was made even worse under the Provisional government as 568 factories closed between February and July 1917 and 100,000 job losses. By the end of August 1917, Kernesky came to the conclusion that the only way to resolve the situation was to restore law and order and restore discipline in the army. He order General Kornilov the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed forces to 'restore law and order' however Kornilov saw it as an opportunity to crush the radical socialists. Once Kernesky realised what was happening he panicked and order the Bolsheviks for help and he was arrested. The Bolsheviks were able to exploit and capitalise on these errors through the strengths of Lenin- his April Theses which galvanised support and boosted morale among the army, soldiers and peasants. The role of Trotsky as he translated Lenin's hopes for Revolution into action- he controlled the Red Guard, the Military Revolutionary Committe etc. Does that sound okay? Any replies are much appreciated!