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The causes of the October Revolution

Lenin's return

In April 1917, Lenin returned to Russia, with the assistance of the Germans. He at once took control and direction over the Bolsheviks and began to make preparations for seizing power.

The June offensive

This was the last gasp of the Russian Army in World War I. Enough troops were scraped together for an offensive but, almost inevitably, the result was a disastrous failure. The morale of the army declined further and there were huge increases in the level of desertions. The soldiers became more receptive to Bolshevik propaganda and the loyalty of a number of units to the Provisional Government was now uncertain.

The July days

Following the failure of the offensive in June, the Bolsheviks made an attempt to seize power in Petrograd in July. Here, Lenin made a serious misjudgement which could have led to disaster for the Bolsheviks. Only small numbers of soldiers and sailors actively supported the Bolsheviks and the uprising was suppressed by loyal troops. A number of Bolshevik leaders were arrested and Lenin fled to Finland.

The Kornilov revolt

In August 1917, a Russian General, Lavr Kornilov, made an attempt to seize power for himself. His army advanced on Petrograd, with the Provisional Government under the leadership of Alexander Kerensky, seemingly powerless to stop him. This gave an opportunity for the Bolsheviks to take the lead in the saving Petrograd from Kornilov.

The Red Guards, under Trotsky's direction, organised the defence of the city. Bolshevik agents infiltrated Kornilov's troops and encouraged them to desert. The Bolsheviks also organised strikes by railway workers which caused chaos to Kornilov's supplies and communications. Within a few days, Kornilov's attempt at seizing power was over.

Increased support for the Bolsheviks

An important result of the Kornilov Revolt was a big increase in support for the Bolsheviks. Their popularity increased as a direct result of their actions in defeating Kornilov and saving Petrograd from his troops. By September, the Bolsheviks had gained control of the Petrograd Soviet.

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