Treaty of Brest-Litovsk I
Program InformationSeries: A Moment in Time
Year Produced: 2010
After nearly four years of fighting, Russia desperately needed peace--at any price.
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Lead: After nearly four years of fighting, Russia desperately needed peace--at any price.
Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.
Content: By March 1918, years of warfare had finally taken their toll on the Russian people. The war had gone badly, with German forces racking up one victory after another. There were two million Russian causalities in 1915 alone. Czar Nicholas II had proven to be a profoundly incompetent war leader--so anxious to maintain supreme royal power that he ignored the Duma, the elected legislature. In 1916, no longer willing to listen to the Duma's criticism, he adjourned it and went to the front. His wife, Czarina Alexandra, tried to rule in his absence, but she was equally incompetent and brought scandal to the government by her emotional dependence on the mystic priest Rasputin. His murder by three discontented aristocrats did little to improve the morale of the country, and in March 1917 severe food shortages brought an abrupt end to the famed Russian tolerance of misfortune. The nation snapped. Food riots led to revolution. When the soldiers sent to quell the riots joined in, the Duma declared a provisional government and three days later the Czar abdicated.
The new government led by Alexander Kerensky opened a whole new world for the Russian people. After centuries of arbitrary rule, Russia enjoyed freedom of religion, speech, the press, and assembly--but Kerensky made a terrible mistake: he continued the war, feeling it was the national patriotic duty to do so.
After a disastrous summer offensive, the nation descended further into chaos and in October 1917 one of the smaller socialist parties, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir I. Lenin seized control of the government and began to consolidate their power. Lenin supplied what Russia had lacked for years: a determined, ruthless, efficient leader and a party behind him willing to put his program into place. His plan was deceptively simple--power to the soviets, land to the peasants, stop the war now.
Next time: Peace at a terrible price.
At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.