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How far did WW1 pave the way for the February/march revolutions
The February/march revolutions were a pivotal moment in russia’s history,there are many factors in the cause of the revolutions and one is WW1,however,there are many other factors and further debate is needed to conclude to what extent the war was to blame.Undoubtedly,WW1 was an incredibly significant factor in the revolutions.
One argument put forward is that there were already revolutions prior to WW1,so the war did not have an impact on the revolutions at all, Russia continued to be in a state of unrest during the war. One such revolution was the 1905 bloody Sunday revolution ,where peaceful protesters were met with violent massacre ,this was the beginning of the violent phase of the Russian revolution .During this revolution,100 workers were killed. This shows that prior to WW1 there were already revolutions, perhaps the war exacerbated the revolution ,but there is insufficient evidence for this. There were many revolutions before this, including the Decembrist revolt.
Another argument put forward is that many Russians objected to the autocracy and economic discontent. To fund the war ,the Tsar taxed ordinary Russian people ,this caused strong opposition to the tsar.The economic discontent was so widespread in fact, that two thirds of Russians were discontented with their position in the empire. The economic issues were so bad that inflation was at 200% in 1916,making life harder, particularly of the poorest citizens of the nation. Moreover,there were food shortages and and the price of food had increased.All of these are reasons why economic discontent was a more significant factor in the revolutions than the war because the economy was in a terrible state.
However,there is some ) evidence that WW1 paved the way for the revolution.For example the army was significantly weakened,some 2 million soldiers were killed.Furthermore,as thepublic were looking for someone to blame,Tsar Nicholas made the fire mistake of declaring himself Commander in Chief of the Army. Moreover,WW1 was a total failure for Russia who faced many defeats at the hands of Germany.moreover, the russian army’s organization worsened and there was a severe shortage of medical supplies and ammunition. Therefore, the war somewhat paved the way for the revolutions but there were other underlying causes.
However, another factor that suggests that the war was not the sole cause of the revolutions was discontent among peasants and workers which had been present years before the war. Conscription meant that, by 1916, a third had been injured. Furthermore, during the retreat from Poland, agricultural land was collateral damage leaving peasants’ livelihoods destroyed. Moreover, there was an increase in unemployment as well as strains on housing and at the same time there were food shortages in Moscow by 1917, Petrograd only received half of the grain needed to feed its residents
A further argument is that the February/march revolutions were caused by the incompetence of the Tsar. For example, he had poor leadership skills and his incompetence in running the country was arguably the main cause of the war. The Tsar's refusal to accept any kind of reform, along with his lack of understanding of the needs of his people, led to growing dissatisfaction amongst the population, eventually leading to a revolution that would force him to abdicate. Therefore, the main cause of the Russian revolution was the tsar's incompetence, not the war.
Moreover, there was much skepticism surrounding the tsarina, who was a German. There were suspicions about who she supported in the war and she appointed less threatening often less competent government officials. It is clear that these officials were appointed based on their relationship with the tsarina, not their personal merits.
Lastly,another factor that contributed to the February/march revolution was the collapse of the Tsardom. Following Russia’s humiliating defeat in the war, Nicholas attempted to return from the war,but this was not successful and his only option was abdication, so the tsardom collapsed.
In conclusion, the war was only somewhat responsible for the February/march revolution and the main reason was the revolution was the incompetence of the tsar, who was consistently inadequate, as well as the dire failure of announcing himself as commander in chief of the army leaving him a scapegoat for the military of the time.