The Russian General Staff in 1917: Commitment to the war effort versus the provisional government's changing political agenda

Ainsworth, John S. (1998) The Russian General Staff in 1917: Commitment to the war effort versus the provisional government's changing political agenda. In XXIV Conference of the Study Group on the Russian Revolution, January 4th, 1998, January 4th 1998, University of Leeds. (Unpublished)


When the tsarist regime was abruptly swept from power in Russia by the revolution of February 191 7, thereafter, the revolution itself represented a new and serious rival to th-e Great War, which had commanded most of the country’s energy and attention since hostilities commenced in July 1914. The introduction of this unexpected rival to t h e war was an event of such consequence, in fact, that it immediately complicated the nation’s internal and foreign affairs. Russia’s wartime allies certainly saw the February Revolution in such terms and, accordingly, they directed their efforts toward keeping Russia in the war and sustaining-her war effort. Thus, Allied representatives in Russia were at pains to convince t h e Russians of the necessity of continuing the war with the Central Powers and, also, to persuade them to accord top priority to their war effort which, of course implied consequent restrictions on the development of the revolution, Russia’s wartime enemies were also perceptive of this situation, however, and their concern to promote the further development of the revolution, to the detriment of the war effort, was obvious in the role which Germany performed in aiding Lenin’s return to Russia from Switzerland in April 1917,Russian opinion itself ‘was diverse. Generally, it ranged from the Bolsheviks’ position, which advocated absolute priority to the revolution and an end to a war which they had never supported, to that of the military leadership who, being responsible for the conduct of the war, largely favoured the Allied viewpoint and opposed any concessions to the revolution which might weaken Russia’s war effort. which broad had formed after the collapse range of popular opinion and,of tsarist authority, therefore, pledged I he Provisional Government was anxious to represent the itself to continue the war and give impetus to the revolution. The Bolshevik position finally prevailed, however, with The Russian General Staff in 1917 their seizure of power from the Provisional Government in October I917 and the subsequent treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 191 8, whereby Russia withdrew from the war, Thus, the revolution won absolute priority over the war and, perhaps, inevitably so. The purpose of this paper is to examine the attitudes of the generals who served successively as Commander-in-Chief of Russia’s armed forces in 19.1 7 - Alexeyev , Srusilov and Kornilov - to the vexed question of how to maintain the war effort as an Allied power in the Great War in the midst of the revolutionary turmoil affecting the nation.

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ID Code: 14
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Additional Information: Author contact details:
Keywords: Russian Revolution
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY (210000) > HISTORICAL STUDIES (210300) > European History (excl. British Classical Greek and Roman) (210307)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1998 John Ainsworth
Deposited On: 04 Jun 2004 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:21

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