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[Detail] A French officer and his British ally at the front read the New York Times.

Introduction | Mexican Expedition | War in Europe | The Home Front | Russian Revolution of 1917 | Military Technology

Russian Revolution of 1917

The war had gone badly for the Allies on the Eastern Front. Czar Nicholas II assumed command of the troops on the front in September 1915, leaving the German-born Czarina Alexandra in St. Petersburg directing internal policy. The czarina had come under the influence of the monk Rasputin, who placed his protégés in positions of power and manipulated government policy until his murder in 1916. Military desertions and street demonstrations at home severely weakened the nation and forced Nicholas II to abdicate in March 1917. The provisional government pledged to continue the war, which led to new demonstrations.

In July Alexander Kerensky took control of the government and promised the Allies that Russia would not make a separate peace with the Germans. The Bolshevik October Revolution brought Vladimir Lenin to power. Lenin’s vow to end the war and open negotiations with the Germans provoked the Allies and led to the detachment of a military excursion to oppose the newly established government and aid rebels who had begun a civil war to oust the Bolsheviks. In 1919 the Czar, Czarina, their four daughters, and son were executed by the Bolsheviks in Ekatrinburg, where they had been held captive.

Using names from the paragraphs above as search terms, locate pictures of key figures in the Russian Revolution of 1917. Use these pictures to make a portrait gallery of the Russian Revolutions of 1917; write a description for each picture that explains the person’s significance to the events of the period.

Examine the maps “Geography and Chronology of the World War: Europe, Africa, and the Near East,” “Geography and Chronology of the World War: Asia, Oceania, and the Far East,” and “Theatre Operations on the Russian Front.”

  • Why were the Allies so committed to keeping Russia in the war?
  • How would Russian withdrawal from the war have affected the longstanding stalemate on the Western Front?