The first world war represented global change- its impact is held even in its name. A global war has global consequences. The collapse of Romanov rule changed the course of history and it would be impossible to imagine that the wold war had nothing but the biggest role to play in the fall of the Romanovs. It shattered the resolve of the people, created a unified group of discontent revolutionaries in the form of the army, and left the infamous Rasputin practically in charge of the county. Altogether, Russia was in no state to continue without a radical change in leadership. As historian R Service outlines in ‘The Russian Revolution 1900-1927’, “what made that kind of revolution possible was the protracted, disruptive, exhausting conflict of the First World War”.
The revolution would not be possible without a group united in dissentience. The war brewed the perfect cocktail of economic calamity to disorient the middle-class, food shortages to anger the average worker, and most crucially, a horrible, catastrophic war to turn the army against the country’s leader. With the army, the Tsar had the ability to supress revolts before they became revolutions, however, the devastation of the war robbed him of this ability. Soon, works began to see their interests aligned not with their generals, their Tsar or their war, but with the revolutionaries. As Kirpichnikov, a young peasant sergeant urging revolt from the army “it would be better to die with honour than to obey any further orders to shoot the crowds: ‘Our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and brides are begging for food,’ I said. ‘Are we going to kill them?”
It is clear, on the surface that this supports the notion that the war provoked the collapse of Romanov rule- the sergeant uses “our” to describe those the Tsar has deemed as enemies to the state. The army no longer sees the crowds as adversaries but as their own “fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and brides”. The machine of war has devastated their economic situation so much so that it makes no sense to be allied with the Tsar, or their war generals, whom they have little in common with. The First World War turned the army’s allegiance to the people in similar circumstances as them. Death and devastation surrounded the front- the soldiers were ill equipped for war, casualties had little in the way of medical help, and aristocrat officers were bad at leading and commanding an army. Of the 13 million mobilised soldiers, 9.15 million died. Not only that, but because the Tsar took command of the army and denied the Duma any chance at making decisions pertaining to the war, he was held personally responsible for the shortages, deaths and defeats.
According to Ben Walsh in Modern World History, by 1917 there was deep discontent in the army and that many soldiers were supporters of the revolutionary Bolshevik Party, so it makes sense that on the 12th of March, when the Tsar ordered the army to crush the revolt by force, they refused and marched...