The Rise of Communism

It is also called the Red Revolution: The Rise of Communism. About 90 years ago, Communism made its first advance and expanded massively. Everything about how and why Communism struck mercilessly 90 years ago can be found here.

Red revolution

It was November 7, 1917. Russia is shaking to its foundations. Lenin and his fellow Bolsheviks take power. With far-reaching consequences not only for Russia, but also for the rest of the world: the first major communist state is born.

The First Russian Revolution (1905)

Russia, led by Tsar Nicholas II, loses the Russo-Japanese War. The Russian people have been dissatisfied with the Tsar for a long time. The population is dying of hunger, and masses of Russian soldiers have died. On January 22, the Russian people take to the streets of the capital, Saint Petersburg. Purpose of the peaceful demonstration: to hand over a manifesto for democratic reforms to Nicholas. The Tsarist army turns it into a bloodbath: Bloody Sunday. Result: even more protests. Nicholas has no choice but to agree to more democracy. He establishes a representative body: the Duma. But he has little say. Moreover, the Duma is populated by aristocrats and commoners who do not really see the need for further reforms.

The 2nd Russian Revolution (1917)

Tsar Nicholas II indulges in the First World War (1914-1918). Just like during the Russian-Japanese war, there is famine, and once again the battlefields are littered with Russian corpses. In January 1917, uprisings broke out in Saint Petersburg. The leaders of the uprisings: various communist groups, including the Bolsheviks. They are led by a certain Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin. The big difference with the revolution of 1905: the soldiers of the Tsarist Guard do not stand firmly behind their Tsar. Soldiers ignore their officers and protest with the workers against the lax Tsar and Duma. Nicholas abolishes the Duma, and he himself is forced to abdicate the throne. He and his family are placed under permanent house arrest. The Duma is replaced by the Provisional Government. It is led by an aristocrat, the liberal Count Georgi Lvov.
Only one socialist is in the government: Alexander Kerensky. And it is also liberal-socialist, without the revolutionary ambitions of the Bolsheviks.

3rd Russian Revolution: The Civil War (1918-1922)

Russia leaves WWI. In February 1918, peace is concluded with the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey). The Bolsheviks throw the Social Revolutionary Party out of government: Russia gets a one-party system. The Bolshevik Party is now called the Russian Communist Party. The officers of the former Tsarist army and bourgeois politicians unite. Social revolutionaries and other (banned) left-wing parties join them. The Russian Civil War erupts: a bloody battle between the ‘White Army’ and Lenin’s ‘Red Army’. In April 1918, the Tsar and his family, symbols of ‘old’ Russia, are executed by the Bolsheviks. The internal war is decided in favor of Lenin and co in 1921. In 1922 this led to the establishment of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: the Soviet Union). Russia is one of the 15 republics that merged into the communist state.

What has happened since the Soviet Union?


Lenin dies, Josef Stalin succeeds him, which sidelines Leon Trotsky.


The beginning of the ‘Great Purges’: Stalin has all critics of his regime liquidated or imprisoned.


Non-aggression pact with Germany during WWII.


Despite the treaty, Germany still attacks the Soviet Union.


The Battle of Stalingrad: Germany loses.


The Soviet Union liberates Eastern European countries (including East Germany). The Soviet Union installs communist governments there. This also marks the beginning of the Cold War.


Stalin dies, new party leader: Nikita Khrushchev


US and Soviet Union are coming closer: party leader Michael Gorbachev holds consultations with Ronald Reagan, President of the US, in Reykjavik (Iceland). Gorbachev introduces economic (perestroika) and political (glasnost) reforms.


Gorbachev receives the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the Cold War.


Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) founded: partnership between ultimately 12 of the 15 Soviet republics. The Soviet Union is later dissolved, and all 15 republics become independent.

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