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Retracing the Revolution

Date Event
July 1914 Martial law declared in the Russian Empire
July 28, 1914 Declaration of war by Austria-Hungary on Serbia begins the first World War
August 1915 Tsar Nicholas II leaves the Russian heartland for the wartime front
June/July 1916 The Brusilov Offensive signifies the last major Russian military success of the war
January 1917 The Menshevicks call for nation-wide revolution in Russia
February 23, 1917 The February Revolution begins in Saint Petersburg on International Women's Day and the Provisional Government is established as the ruling administrative power in the empire
February 27, 1917 The Tsar orders the use of violence to quell civil unrest
February 28, 1917 Soldiers mutiny against the government and the Petrograd Soviet is formed
March 2, 1917 Tsar Nicholas II abdicates the throne
April 4, 1917 Lenin publishes his April Theses condemning the Provisional Government for its incapacity to call an end to the "imperialist" war that Russia found itself in and calls for further revolution in Russia
June 1917 The June Offensive fails, further exacerbating Russian hardship caused by an increasingly costly war
August 1917 General Lavr Kornilov attempts to seize control of power from the Provisional Government in what is deemed the Kornilov Affair
October 24, 1917 Provisional forces move against the Bolsheviks in Saint Petersburg
October 25, 1917 Bolshevik revolutionaries storm the Winter Palace and seize control of power from the Provisional Government
March 3, 1918 The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is signed, withdrawing Russia from the First World War, ceding much of the former territory of the Russian Empire
Late March 1918 - October 1922 The Russian Civil War rages until the Bolsheviks consolidate power, forming the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on December 30, 1922

Reading the Revolution

To find out more about the period surrounding the 1917 Revolution, we asked professors Scott Kenworthy (religion), Steve Norris (history), and Ben Sutcliffe (russian) to give us a list of their "must reads." We list them below.


zamyatin-we.jpgBabel, Isaak,  Red Cavalry (BS)

Bulgakov, Mikhail,  Heart of a Dog (SK)

Bulgakov, Mikhail, The White Guard (SK)

Dostoevsky, Fyodor, The Demons (BS)

Pasternak, Boris, Doctor Zhivago (SK, SN, BS)

Sholokhov, Mikhail, And Quiet Flows the Don (BS)

Slavnikova, Ol’ga, 2017: A Novel (BS)

Zamyatin, Evgeny,  We (SK, SN, BS)

Primary Historical

Daly, Jonathan and Leonid Trofimov (eds.), Russia in War and Revolution, 1914-1922: A Documentary History

Evlogy, Metropolitan, My Life's Journey: The Memoirs of Metropolitan Evlogy (SK)

Reed,John, Ten Days that Shook the World (SN)

Sukhanov, Nikolai, The Russian Revolution, 1917; A Personal Record (SK)

Trotsky, Leon, History of the Russian Revolution

Secondary Historical

Figes, Orlando, A People’s Tragedy (SN)

Holquist, Peter, Making War, Forging Revolution

Retish, Aaron, Russia’s Peasants in Revolution and Civil War

Smith, S. A., The Russian Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (SN)

Steinberg, Mark, The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921 (SN)

Steinberg, Mark, Voices of Revolution, 1917 (SN)

Stites, Richard, Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution

Suny, Ronald (ed.), The Cambridge History of Russia: Volume III, The Twentieth Century

Revolution Multimedia Resources


Интернационал (international), International

Варшавянка (varshavyanka)

Красное знамя (krasnoye znamia), The Red Banner

Смело, товарищи, в ногу (Smelo, tovarishi, v nogu), Boldly, Comrades, In Step

Вы жертвою пали (Vy, zhertvoiu pali), You Fell Victims


Early Memorialization of the Revolution

  • Eisenstein
    • Strike (1925)
    • Battleship Potemkin (1925)
    • October (1927)
  • Pudovkin
    • Mother (1926)
    • The End of St. Petersburg (1927)
    • Storm Over Asia (1928)
    • The New Babylon (1928)
  • Lev Kuleshov
    • The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks (1924)
  • Esfir Shub
    • The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (1927)
  • Alexander Dovzhenko
    • Zvenigora (1928)
    • Arsenal (1928)
    • Earth (1930)
  • Dziga Vertov
    • Kino-Eye (1924)
    • Kino-Pravda (1925)
    • A Sixth of the World (1926)
    • Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

Recent Memorialization

  • Shakhnazarov
    • The Rider Named Death (2004)
  • Balabanov, Morphine (2008)
  • Lopushanskii
    • The Role (2013)
  • Fedorchenko
    • Angels of Revolution (2014)

Evdokiya Usikova, Lenin with Villagers (1959)

Lenin with Villagers

Alexander Radakov, The Autocratic System (1917)

The Autocratic System


Boris Kustodiev, The Bolshevik (1920)

 The Bolshevik

Petrov Kuzmin, 1918 in Petrograd (1920)

The Bolshevik