Effect of War
- Limited military training = disorganized, undisciplined army
- Mobilization of industry = hindrance on production
- “inflation and food shortages = dissatisfaction” (Freeze, 273)
- Unstable government = anxious lower/middle classes
“Increasingly, the state lost the capacity of requisition of food, fuel, and manpower, reflecting the decline in its moral authority” (Freeze, 272).
The cost of war quickly lessened Nicholas II’s grip on power. Lack of resources angered soldiers and peoples and led to protests in Petrograd (February Revolution). The demonstrators, who over powered the police, took over arsenals (274), and ignited fires in the city. The city’s government and police faded away, and Nicholas relinquished he and his son’s power. When his brother did not try to take control of the throne, there was an immediate grapple for power between the Duma and the Soviets.
In March, instead of following its liberal promises, the new Provisional Government took a socialist approach to address food shortage issues. They monopolized grain prices which “effectively declared all grain to be property of the state” (Freeze, 279). Among other issues with the ‘Kornilov Affair’ (which Katelin talks about in her blog), the government failed to ameliorate agricultural dilemmas. By October the Bolsheviks used the governments weakness and insatiably to its advantage.
Food Supplies Under the Provisional Government draws a picture of how serious food shortages were
Here is a telegram from Cherepovets: “Shipments of bread are being plundered by peasants of Novgorod and Olonetsk guberniias … Soldiers escorting the transports cannot stop the peasants. Please take immediate measures to save the bread.” Here is a telegram from Rybinsk: “This is the second time that our barge has been stopped … by armed peasants who plundered some 120,000 poods of flour. The soldiers who were sent after them refused to bring it back … Under such conditions there can be no certainty that we shall emerge successfully from the crisis in which we find ourselves …
Overall, food shortages and agrarian issues were a major component and conflict among Russians which influenced their distrust of the government and its ability to look after the people. Social issues like this were especially persuasive forces behind protests and riots during 1917.
“Food Supplies Under the Provisional Government.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. Accessed February 5, 2017. http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1917-2/food-supply/food-supply-texts/food-supplies-of-the-army-and-the-capital/.
Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.