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History

Lenin and the Bolshevik revolution

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'The February revolution was spontaneous; the October revolution was planned.' You may well have heard or read other statements like this about the two Russian revolutions of 1917, but what is the evidence?

The story of the October revolution

Peace, land, bread

Man pointing

April: the German government helps the Bolshevik leader Lenin return to Russia. He publishes the 'April Theses', offering people: 'Peace, bread, land', and proclaims: All power to the Soviets'.

July: the Bolsheviks try to take power in a revolution called the July Days, but are defeated.

Bolsheviks

four russian men

August: a pro-tsarist, General Kornilov, leads a revolt against the Provisional Government. The government has to ask the Bolsheviks for help to defeat him. As a result, the Bolsheviks become so popular that:

September: the Bolsheviks take control of the Petrograd Soviet, and the prominent Bolshevik Leon Trotsky, leader of the Red Guards, becomes its president.

Kronstadt sailors

Sailors firing rifles

6th November: late at night, Trotsky's Red Guards helped by the Kronstadt sailors move quickly to take over the bridges and the telephone exchange. They cut off Petrograd from the rest of Russia.

Aurora fires a shell

Ship firing guns

7 November: next, the Red Guards take over government buildings, the banks and the railway station. Finally, at 9.40pm, signalled by a shell fired from the cruiser Aurora, they move in and take over the Winter Palace, the headquarters of the Provisional Government. There is no resistance.

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