The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a pair of revolutions that changed the march of history. Ranking among the most transformative political events of the 20th century, it toppled monarchy in Russia, drew the line to the reign of the royal Romanovs, and resulted in the exaltation of the Soviet Union, the world’s first communist country. November 7th, 2017 celebrates 100 years of the October Revolution and here’s a close-up on the sequence of events that led to it with top-notch 360° videos* to flash you back in time.
It shouldn’t go unmentioned that the success of the Russian Revolution of 1917 was much due to the fact that it took place within the framework of the First World War. At that time a large part of Russia’s military force was retrograding and the internal situation wasn’t very stable, practically a political crisis. Most of the country’s men were at war and the exhausted women who were working endless shifts at some point had enough and went out to strike. Within days the political movement was picking up steam and an estimated 150 thousand people joined together and went out on the streets of Petrograd, the capital of Russia at that time, to rebel against current rule. Tsar Nicholas II wasn’t in town at that time, he was informed about the ongoing strikes but he didn’t give meaning to them. And that was a big mistake.
On February 27, 1917 (March 12th by the Julian calendar that was used in Russia then) massive antigovernment riots initiated by soldiers who didn’t want to fight in the war, as well as the urban industrial working class and lower classes who wanted better life conditions, seized major government buildings and strategic places in town. This led to drastic and fast changes - Tsar Nicholas II renounced throne and before long the Russian Empire collapsed.
On short notice, the Provisional Government called Duma was established by members of the Imperial Parliament to officially run the country. They still hung on to some core ideas such as continuing to fight in the First World War. But in order to tamp down tensions, the Duma determined several actions among which are abolishing the death penalty, ending religious and ethnic discrimination, granting civil liberties and making one tremendous mistake. The Provisional Government granted amnesty for all political prisoners and those in exile.
Having managed to overthrow the monarchy, Bolsheviks founded the Petrograd Soviet at the very same time. And lucky for them, the leader of the Bolsheviks Vladimir Ilyich Lenin returned from exile in April. Thousands of people came to the train station to give him a warm welcome. Lenin congratulated them on the revolution and urged them to continue fighting for equality and better living conditions, and to unite forces for one more revolution.
The second revolution, often called Red October, took place on November 7th, 1917 (Julian calendar - October 25th). With Lenin at the helm of the Bolsheviks, millions of people were ready to strike. The massive scale of the Red Guards was practically impossible to suppress, one by one they took control of important bridges, roads, stations, banks, and the city was handed over to them with practically no blood-spilling. Lenin and the Soviets announced the new regime, promised to make away with private land ownership and moved the capital to Moscow, leading to the rise of the Soviet Union.
Yet no matter how loud Lenin’s statements were, they were hard to implement at once. Sadly, a severe Civil War broke out in Russia in 1918, Whites against Reds. It lasted for more than 2 years and millions of people died.
But what happened to the royal Romanov family?
After the first revolution the Romanovs spent about 6 months under house arrest at the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo.
In August of the same year, the royal family and their loyal servants were moved to Tobolsk and then to Ekaterinburg, initially for safety reasons. After the October Revolution, things changed for the worst and they were held hostage in strict isolation at the Ipatiev House for over 6 months in bad living conditions.
During the Civil War the Bolsheviks were afraid that the Whites would set the royal family free. To prevent that, on the night of July 16-17, 1918, Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and their 5 children were taken to the basement of the house and cruelly shot.
All of their belongings were looted and their bodies burned and buried in a field out of town. This tragedy touches the hearts of millions of people, the royal Romanov family has been canonized and are considered saints. The Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg stands on the spot of the infamous Ipatiev House.
If you're interested in history and would like to traverse the routes of the Russian Revolution, set off on one of our tailor-made thematic Revolution tours.
*These outstanding Revolution in VR videos are produced by rt.com. The videos will be released as Russia approaches the exact 100-year anniversary of the Revolution. Stay tuned!