The Significance of the Events of 1905 in Russia referat

The Significance of the Events of 1905 in Russia

The Events which took place during 1905 showed clearly the inability of the tsar to react to all the different forms of protest against the government and the existing political system in the appropriate way, maybe even more important, soon enough.

It became clear, that the old , traditional connections between the tsar and his (former) supporters, the peasants , which was characteristic for the rule of the tsar as “caring father” of all Russians, where totally destroyed.

In 1905  the absolute monarchy was forced to make mayor political concessions to restore the peace in the country, because for the first time the masses supported the “revolution” where as before the demand for a political change always came from the elite of the country, e.g. the students and the intelligentsia.

Everything that happened during 1905 can be brought back to one first escalation, to the “ Bloody Sunday” at the of January 1905. It would be wrong to say that the “Bloody - Sunday”  developed not within a general atmosphere of disturbances that started around 1903 and went on till 1907.

The furious beginning of the Year spread the ideas of revolution all over the country, as a reaction to the shooting of many demonstrates ( numbers vary from 200 - 5000 ) at a peaceful March organised by the leader of police sponsored trade unions, Father Gapon Unions to present some petitions to the tsar.

One interesting fact on these Unions is, that they where originally designed by Sergei Zubatov with the support of the government , in order to keep the workers away from more radical organisations. ( In 1905 it wasn’t exactly to say whether Father Gapon was used by the police, or if Father Gapon used the police support to achieve his goals, especially as he was the most know leader of the opposition to the masses).

This Bloody Sunday created a wave of strikes and Demonstrations over the country, during these the Strike Movement turned into a more radical revolutionary movement. At this point the unorganised demonstrations became organised, as the parties who wanted a political change had to catch up with the uprisings to set themselves ahead the movement.

It was the first time that revolutionary pressure on the government came from the masses; over 400 000 workers went on strike in January; but one of the most cruel reactions toward the demonstrators happened during June 1905 in Odessa, where over 2000 People where killed who had joined the mutinous crew of the battleship Potemkin .

There was no way for the government to prevent political concessions, but the Documents that where signed by Nicholas II. on the 18th of February couldn’t calm down the masses, simply because the offered concessions weren’t acceptable; it was surly not enough to offer a powerless Duma, elected only by few people, while the Opposition wanted a real parliament.

At the 2nd. congress of the Zemsty in Moscow( April 1905) the majority of the delegates demanded a Constitution Assembly.

One oft the things the tsar offered was the idea to submit suggestions on political subjects to him; all over the country hundreds of meetings took place to draw petitions, finally over 60 000 Petitions where submitted (but only a few where read); during this “Petition-Campaign” the Liberals where able to create a “Union of Unions”  not only to speak for the workers rights, but to involve them in the Campaign for political freedom.

As a Leader they elected Paul Miliukov who turned out to play a major role in the 1905 Revolution.

But also the War with Japan (1904/1905), which was started with the idea that a small, victorious war would bend the nation together and would strengthen the rule of the government turned against Russia, especially the loss of Port Arthur and the complete destroying of the Baltic - Fleet showed that the Japanese Military had better equipment, but also superior intelligence; this events in the street of Tsushima ended the hope of a glorious victory for the Russians.

After this disaster for the demands for a political change were made much more radical.

The decisions of the St. Petersburg Municipal Council and the one of Moscow, to demand political reforms showed how serious the revolutions developed, because usually the Councils where conservative, and stayed clear off the liberal movement.

(Even the congress of the Marshals of the Nobility spoke for a change in the government to preserve Russia from Anarchy.

As the tsar finally reacted,  and the “Bulygin Constitution” was released, it was later to show, that the opposition couldn’t accept this offer now, because it was what the liberals had dreamed of in the 19th century , but in 1905 the demand went much further.

On the of August the Government issued rules to allow Students to hold assemblies in the Universities; the idea behind this was “to let the steam” off; but soon the Universities changed into political clubs where workers and oppostional leaders could speak freely.

The strike movement didn’t stop, it even changed into a strike that paralysed the whole country; it started with the walkout of the Moscow printers on the 17th of December,  by the 13th of October all the traffic in Russia stopped, and thousands of workers and employees where on strike.

The Strike - Headquarters where located in Universities, where the Union - Leaders could be sure to be save from police intervention.

Prime - Minister Witte suggested Nicholas the only two possibilities to react, either mayor political concessions, or a military dictatorship.

But as it was clear that Nicholas wouldn’t fit the rule of a Powerful - Dictator, and the Army wasn’t able to control such a big country; especially as the war against Japan had ended just in September, the Army still suffered from the lost battles ; so it was for sure that , mayor political concessions had to be made.

During these turbulent days in St.Petersburg the first Soviet was created, it adopted the name on the 17th of December, after firming as Strike committee, similar Soviets sprang up in over 50 other cities. From the 13th of October on in St.Petersburg there existed two authorities, on the one hand the soviet, and on the other hand the legal city government; during these days the neither the legal government nor the soviet had the power to overcome the other. It is this point where it can be said, that the 1905 Revolution was a failed one, as the situation showed, that the autocratic system was seriously weakened, but the opposition wasn’t strong enough to complete the revolution by the abolishing of the monarchy. The Soviet kept its supporters away from storming the jails to release the imprisoned.

The Zemtsty wanted, similar to the French Revolution, the Personal rights, including Freedom of Speech, Publicity and Assembly, the right to elect a Duma which took part in legislation, and finally a control over the State budget.

On the 17th of October Nicholas finally agreed to the “October Manifesto” which fulfilled all the wishes of the Opposition, excluding the Control over the state Budget; and  the first reaction was a total surprise, as nobody had expected that the tsar would make such major concession and would give up so much from his power.

On the following days the strike was ended, and thousands of people went out on the streets to celebrate this event.

All the concessions Nicholas made would have maybe calmed down the country completely, if they would have been made earlier, but as a Constitution still was out of sight, the concessions only bought the system some more years before its final collapse.

It very important to note, that it was the liberal movement who led and succeeded in this revolution, and not the Bolsheviks , they played a role on the auxiliary, and the Moscow upraise in December 1905 which was planned by them , was down till the end of December in a total disaster.

The Government, especially Nicholas II. felt never that they have to follow all promises they had made in the October manifesto, because they felt that they gave this promises under pressure.

But as soon as the situation had calmed down, this was about in 1907, all the concessions that where made in 1905 where abolished, and Nicholas had returned to his role of an absolute monarch.

But as this revolution was a liberal one, the Socialists had learned a lot ; it can be said, that without 1905 the Revolution of 1917 maybe never would have taken place; one of the factors that became very clear to the socialist was, that to get a successful revolution, the support from the masses is deadly necessary.

As a result from the 1905 Revolution it can be said, that the Liberals accepted the October - Manifesto , and showed, that the wanted reforms, and not another system; that is maybe the reason why they accepted the Manifesto, instead of going on fighting, they certainly where afraid of the growing influence of the Socialists, because once they would loose the control over the masses to the Bolsheviks, their worst dreams would come true, the demolition of the Monarchy . The Menshewiks accepted , that in order to reach their own socialist revolution, the middle class has to be supported with their own “liberal “ revolution , at least that was their interpretation of Marx, and they didn’t believe in a socialist revolution within their lifetime; but the Bolshewiks turned out to become much more radical, because they wanted to bring down the existing system with an alliance between workers an peasants, and not with the bourgeois - class.

The socialist opposition leaders recognised, that the government was already weakened, and they kept on fighting towards a socialist revolution!

Another result of this failed revolution was, that the peasants lost their trust in the tsar, as none of their goals, like “land - redistribution” was fulfilled by the government, so the opposition against the tsar grew more and more, especially as finally a new election - law was passed, that kept the majority of the population out of any form of political - involvement.

By the Years after 1905 the idea that they have to react much more radical to achieve their goals ,  became more and more popular. After the release of the October - Manifesto it became clear, that the peasants completely misunderstood the Manifesto, as they interpreted it in a agreement of the tsar to allow them to take land from the landlords by their own; especially as they got to know about pogroms in the cities against Jewish people going on, and the police keeping away from punishing the ones responsible.

From 1905 on the Bolsheviks fought to get full power, and they didn’t wanted any other party to share the power with; before 1905 the Socialists only played a secondary role, but from then on they changed top become one of the most active and effective parties of the opposition.

It seems, as if the Reactions of the masses to the bloody Sunday absolutely surprised Nicholas, as he saw himself confronted with the danger of a civil war, if he would not react at once, from this point of view it is very hard to understand why Nicholas reacted very late, as the situation was nearly out of control, or even not in the right way. The tsar was criticised not only from the opposition, but even from loyal , royal supporters on the right wing, as they saw  Nicholas not strong enough to fight against the uprisings with a major police - action, for the it seemed, that the tsar was outselling his position, and not strong enough to protect his role.

The “Winners” of the 1905 Revolution where the liberals and their organisations like the Union of Unions, the Zemstvo movement and the Union of liberation, as it was their tactic and their strategy that finally made the tsar signing the October Manifesto.

But as the next Years showed, the liberals where only a small fraction between the radical Bolsheviks on the left, and the conservative radicalism and the governments secret police on the right.

Bibliography :

Pipes, Richard : The Russian Revolution 1899 - 1919, Fontana Press, London 1992

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