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The October Revolution was an uprising that occurred on November 6/7, 1917. It marked the end of the Russian Provisional Government (RPG) and creation of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). The event is called the October Revolution due to it occuring on October 25, according to the Julian calendar.
It was a continuation of March 1917's February Revolution, which overthrew Czar Nicholas II and created a republic primarily run by aristocrats and former nobles. The RPG was deposed by Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik Party, creating the world's first socialist state.
The Russian Empire ceased to exist upon the abdication of Czar Nicholas II on March 15, 1917. The government was replaced by a weak democracy. It continued Russian participation in the Great War, which had become very unpopular with the populace.
On April 7, Bolshevik leader Lenin arrived in Petrograd, promising to get Russia out of the war and land and food for the citizens if his faction was given power. They attempted to sieze power in July, but were prevented by government troops. Lenin was forced into hiding, Aleksandr Kerensky became prime minister.
Over the course of the late summer of that year, mass protests erupted in the Urals and the Donbas.
General Lavr Kornilov, feeling that the RPG was too weak, attempted a coup against the RPG. Kerensky, desperate for allies, released a number of Bolsheviks from prison and armed them. Kornilov's putsch would never get off the ground and Kerensky's administration was now seen as weak by the Russian people.
With the surge of support for the Bolsheviks, Lenin, still hiding in Finland urged his followers to make a move against the RPG. "History will never forgive us," he said "if we don't act now!"
The central committee was hesitant to do anything, but a debate regarding it would take place on October 23.
Lenin, still clean shaven and wearing a wig, returned to Petrograd to take part in the meeting. After ten hours of heated negotiations, Lenin was about to convince ten out of the twelve attendees that the conditions were right to carry out his plans for insurrection.
The responsibility of detailing the putsch fell to the Military Revolutionary Committee, on which Leon Trotsky had a seat. The date was set for November 6.
Bolshevik PutschOn the morning of November 6, Prime Minister Kerensky fled Petrograd in a car provided by the American embassy. Over the course of the day, the Bolsheviks took over various positions in the city with relative ease. It appeared to be a changing of the guard at certain points. Post offices, bridges, power plants, and banks were all occupied by Red volunteers.
The cruiser Aurora was taken and partisans took positions at the Peter-and-Paul Fortress.
At 9:45 PM, the Aurora fired a blank shot to signal the march on the Winter Palace. The building's weak defenses surrendered as the Bolshevik activists entered through a side door. Around 11:00 PM, the cannons at the Peter-and-Paul Fortress fired random shots at the palace.
The remaining ministers were found in a small dining room behind the Malachite Room. The volunteers, unable to read or write, forced the ministers to sign their own arrest warrants. By 2:00 AM that morning, the Bolsheviks' victory was complete. Following their arrest, the activists rampaged through the palace. One eyewitness reported:
""The Palace was pillaged and devastated from top to bottom by the Bolsheviks...Priceless pictures were ripped from their frames by bayonets. Packed boxes of rare plate and china...were broken open and the contents smashed or carried off. The library....was forced open and ransacked.....the Czaritsa's salon, like all other rooms, was thrown into chaos. The colossal crystal lustre, with its artfully concealed music, was smashed to atoms. Desks, pictures, ornaments—everything was destroyed."Soviet authorities denied any looting occurred and plans were underway to designate the palace as a museum of the revolution. In reality, damage was documented:
AftermathThe transfer of power was not agreed upon by the Second Congress. The right-leaning factions felt that Lenin had taken power illegally and walked out of the soviet in protest. Trotsky mocked the walk-out, telling them to go into "the dustbin of history."
On November 8, the Congress created the All-Russian Council of People's Commissars (SovNarKom), with Lenin as chairman. The Decree on Land would nationalize all property and the Decree on Peace promised an exit from the Great War.
Kerensky, meanwhile, rallied supporters among the Cossacks to retake power from Lenin. They failed to dislodge the Bolsheviks and Kerensky went into exile.
In the Crimea, a number of former imperial officers met at Yalta to begin potting against the Bolsheviks.