“The first world was was the main cause of the February revolution” To what
extent do you agree with this statement?
The question above, asks us to define what we think the main cause of the successful Russian
Revolution of 1917, consequently the optimist and pessimist debate must be take into account.
The pessimist debate, shown by the opinion of Orlando Figes states that “living in russia in 1914
was like living on the top of a volcano”, however I disagree with this statement. Even though there
was huge tension in Russia, due to the failure of reforms and political opposition to the Tsarist
regime, there was little more than failed uprisings and riots. Figes’ use of words connotes an
explosion that overturns society, however, without the armed inpetus of the pressure of WW1 and
the forces changing sides in favour of the revolution, the people would never of had the means to
successfully bring down the Tsarist regime. Consequently I will take the side of the optimist in this
debate, and agree that the first world war was the main cause of the February revolution, however
I will take into account that there was great motivation for change, e.g growth in opposition, and
failure of reforms. Nevertheless the factor of the First World War is more important as (also shown
through the distinction between 1905 revolutions and 1848) is was the failure of the war effort, that
caused the people to revolt out of desperation and soldiers to turn against the autocracy, (who
where the physical enforcer of the Tsarist Regime). Consequently I argue that the First World War
was the main cause of the February revolution and the Fall of the autocracy, as it provided stimulus
and the means (the revolting of the armed forces) to overturn the Tsardom.
Failure to achieve military success, combined with the strain of the war effort upon Russia, caused
the loss of all patriotism and support for war effort, resulting in the loss of morale and loyalty to the
state, within the people and soldiers, causing them to revolt. Therefore the strain of the war, and
the opportunities that the war created within the state of Russia, is what pushed it towards a
successful revolution. Initial support for the war was surprisingly strong within the Russian state,
with many running to the aid of the country, causing a surge of patriotism. However, by January
1915, public support had weighed due to the pressure it put upon the economy and the failure to
produce significant gains in the war. The army itself, even though large holding around 6.5 million
men, was ill equipped, due to the incapability of the Russian economy to keep up with the
demands of the war, with the limited supply of 4.7 million rifles for 6.5 million men. Consequently
the army was hugely inefficient, reflected in their many failures and huge losses. By 1917 1.7
million soldiers had died, 8 million were wounded and 2.5 were prisoners. The death of many sons,
brothers and fathers, not only had a deteriorating effect b...