The period during the war was more to blame for the Russian Revolution than the period prior to the war for a number for reasons. The war acted as a catalyst for the Revolution. Problems that existed were intensified and others were added. These included short-term triggers, such as the Rasputin and his assignation, suspicions about the German Tsarina, but most importantly, Nicholas II was a useless Tsar. Not only did he lack intelligence, but also he was not forceful enough to maintain order within the Russian Empire.
One of the problems during the war was the Tsar. Nicholas was hopeless. Although a loving father, he was a cruel man and always turned to violence against the opposition. He praised regiments that hung people who were out of order. He knew little about the people in his country. Then Tsar took over the running of the war and went to the war front, which was a huge mistake. Not only was Nicholas blamed for the defeats which Russia suffered, but he left Rasputin and the Tsarina in control. This was a bad idea because the people of Russia didn’t trust either of them. The Tsarina was German and they thought that she was passing information to the Germans. Her closeness with Rasputin lowered her reputation even more. She made a mess of running the country and wouldn’t work with the Duma at all. She replaced ministers with Rasputin’s dirty friends and the economy collapsed. The railways stopped working so coal and food were left on the sidings to rot.
Another problem during the war (and also partly prior to the war) that caused the Revolution was the bad conditions of the peasants. The Russian peasant communities were living in very poor conditions and their methods of farming were very undeveloped. This was a problem because the population of the commoners was increasing which caused many food shortages, and also adding to the problem, a lot of the food produced had to be sent to the men on the war front. Stolypin tried to make agriculture and life for the peasants more efficient. He set up banks to provide loans for them. Then they would have money to buy strips of land off their neighbours. He hoped that this would create a new class of land-owning peasants (KULAKS) but only 15% of the peasants took off this offer. Stolypin didn’t really improve things for the peasants.
Not only was the lack of food a problem for Russia, but the lack of coal. Coal was not getting to the city because the railway had collapsed so the coal could not get to the city. The coal and industrial materials were short too so a lot of factories had to close down, meaning unemployment rates went up. The lack of coal meant that people were cold and hungry.
Another reason to blame the war for the revolution was Rasputin. He played a big part of the causes of the revolution. The people of Russia didn’t like him and more importantly didn’t trust him. Rasputin was a peasant from Siberia. He came to Russia and soon made friends with the royal family. The Tsar and Tsarina believed that he healed their son. Soon, Rasputin was more important to the Tsar than the nobles and they became very jealous. This lowered the reputation of the Royal family. Prince Yusupov, a relation of the Tsar, didn’t like Rasputin and wanted to get rid of him because of the damage he was doing. So he killed Rasputin at a party at his house.
While all this was happening in Russia, on the war front, things were really looking up. The Russians were heavily defeated by the Germans and losses mounted rapidly. People blamed the officers and the Tsar and it got a lot worse as the war went on. Because there was lack of food, inflation increased rapidly. Prices went sky-high and because wages didn’t go up, people couldn’t afford the food. By March 1917, workers wanted political changes as well as food. People started going on strike and on the 8th of March, International Women’s Day, thousands of women went on strike. The Tsar ordered the riots to be put down by force and took hardly any notice. By 12th March, soldiers joined the strikers and Russia hit the Revolution.
Although many reasons prior to the war led up to the Revolution, there were some problems that caused the revolution before the war too. The war just acted as catalyst for the problems. The problem that really started the Revolution was backward economy. At the beginning of the 20th century, most of the population was peasants. Life was hard for them and they didn’t have much land. They wanted more land and started competing for it. Life was also hard for the workers. They lived in barracks and worked in the factories next to them. They didn’t realise till later that they were living in bad conditions, and they thought that Tsar was god and so never questioned him.
Life was a lot better for the nobility and the middle class. They were extremely rich with many houses. This was one of the first reasons why the revolution broke out.
Another problem was economic problems in Russia. The government made matters worse. They borrowed money off other countries to try and improve the backward agricultural country. To pay off this debt, they had to raise taxes. This caused strikes within the workers because their wages were low. The government’s only solution to this was to crush any disturbance. The Russo-Japanese war didn’t help matters. At first the Tsar thought it was a good way for the government to get a better reputation but things didn’t go so well. It was defeat after defeat for Russia. Russia fell deeper and deeper into Crisis and by 1905 a revolution broke out.
I think that the Period during the war was more to blame for the Revolution. The Tsar made big mistakes and the Russian Empire rapidly went into crisis during the war. Although the period prior to the war actually the starting point of the revolution, the war sped it up and intensified the problems that were already there.