November 1917 the Provisional Government was in complete
collapse. In the meantime, the Bolshevik party,
helped by German money, had built up an efficient party
organisation, a brilliant propaganda machine, and a powerful
private army (the Red Guards).
When Lenin moved to take over, the Provisional Government was
unable to stop him, and the 'November Revolution' was less of
a revolution than a coup d'état.
Brett on the November Revolution
A description of the Fall of the Winter Palace by Louise
Bryant, an American journalist
Trotsky: who was more important?
Revolutions of 1917
of the 'October' Revolution
Red Guards took over
bridges and the telephone exchange.
Red Guards took over
banks, government buildings, and the railway stations.
The cruiser Aurora
shelled the Winter Palace.
night (9.40 pm) the Red Guards took the Winter Palace and arrested the
Provisional Government leaders.
Lenin announced the
new Communist Government
1. What were the most important events of 1917?
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the fall of the Winter Palace
Which was more important
for the Bolsheviks' victory – the strengths of the Bolsheviks, or the
weaknesses of the Provisional Government?
Why did the Bolshevik
Revolution of November 1917 succeed?
Seven Powers Gave Lenin An Opportunity)
The Bolsheviks succeeded because the Provisional
Government was weak and unpopular (remember that
That’s Provisional Will Be Killed).
When it was attacked, nobody was prepared to defend it.
The Bolsheviks had good slogans
such as ‘Peace, Bread, Land’ and ‘All Power to the Soviets’.
Other parties claimed they could never deliver their promises, but
their arguments were too complicated for people to understand.
This meant that they got the public’s support.
The party ran its own
propaganda machine, including the newspaper Pravda
(‘Truth’), which got their ideas across.
The Germans financed the
Bolsheviks because they knew that Lenin wanted to take Russia out of the
This gave them the
money to mount their publicity campaigns
A brilliant leader – a
professional revolutionary with an iron will, ruthless, brilliant speaker,
a good planner with ONE aim – to overthrow the government.
The Bolsheviks were well-led.
A private Bolshevik army (the
Red Guards), dedicated to the revolution, was set up and trained under
the Bolsheviks the military power to win.
The Bolsheviks were brilliantly
were they?). A central committee (controlled by Lenin and other leading
Bolsheviks) sent orders to the soviets, who gave orders to the factories.
Membership grew to 2 million in 3 months.
Unlike the Provisional Government, the Bolsheviks demanded total
obedience from their members, so they were well-disciplined (members
did what the leaders wanted).
Later depictions of the October Revolution
– were Bolshevik propaganda,
and showed the revolution as an
heroic workers’ struggle.
paintings of the October Revolution, such as this one, also showed it as
a popular uprising similar to the March Revolution.
In fact, in Petrograd,
the take-over was virtually bloodless (although there was fierce
fighting in Moscow).
an American journalist who witnessed the revolution.
Provisional Government had dwindled to a meeting of ministers in the
Winter Palace. A few
Red Guards climbed in through the servants’ entrance and arrested
by AJP Taylor, a modern historian.
Winter Palace was defended by the
Women’s Death Battalion.)
(click on the picture to see a
‘What happened to the women?’ we
asked a soldier.
He laughed. ‘We found
them hiding in a back room … crying. We did not know what to do with
them; in the end we just sent them home.
Written by an American who was in
Russia in 1917.