Famous Russian Leader in History Nikolai Lenin Part 4

About the famous Russian leader Nikolai Lenin, biography and history of the revolution leading to his position of power.


Then, on Mar. 8, 1917, metal workers in Petrograd (formerly St. Petersburg) went on strike, a strike which grew until hundreds of thousands of people were milling in the streets. The czarist regime collapsed, and power went into the hands of the Duma, run by the bourgeoisie. Lenin, desperate to return to Russia, made a deal with the Germans. It was understood that if he seized power, Lenin would pull Russia out of the war and end fighting on Germany's eastern front. With this in mind. German leaders allowed Lenin and other Russian expatriate revolutionaries to cross Germany to the Swedish border on a sealed train.

His welcome to Russia was tumultuous. In Petrograd, hordes of people carrying red and gold banners and torches cheered him. Standing on the turret of an armored car in the station square, he shouted. "Long live the worldwide Socialist revolution!"

His ideas, expounded in the "April Theses," written the next day, were not immediately accepted, possibly because they seemed too radical. The provisional government, headed by Alexander Kerenski (son of Lenin's high school principal), branded Lenin a traitor and accused him of being a German agent. Again a hunted man, he hid out, first in a barn loft, then in a hollowed-out haystack. Winter drove him into Finland, where he further developed the idea that the dictatorship of an armed proletariat would "wither away" into a classless, stateless, communist society, clearly the biggest error of his lifetime.

In Power: After the nearly bloodless October Revolution deposed the provisional government, Lenin, wearing a wig and disguised with a handkerchief as a man with a toothache, made his way to party headquarters, where, unrecognized, he was offered a roll and sausage by the Menshevik leader. In Room 100, where the Military Revolutionary Committee sat, he took off his hat--and his wig came with it. It was a burlesque beginning to a seven-year reign of enormous power, one he had worked toward all his adult life. Then 47, he was named president of the Society of People's Commissars (Communist party), with dominion over a country of 150 million people, who were 90% illiterate. "It makes one's head spin," he said.

The problems of the new government were gigantic--to establish a new society, to make plans to administer it, to end the war with Germany. The land was redistributed, some of it designated as collective farms. Factories, mines, banks, and utilities were taken over by the government; private capital and profits were no longer allowed. The Russian Orthodox Church was disestablished.

The new government was not recognized by the Allies, and Lenin worked out a disastrous peace treaty with the Germans and their allies at Brest-Litovsk, in which, anxious to end the war, he gave away one fourth of the land and nearly half the population of the country.

That same year, 1918, saw the beginning of civil war with the Whites, which was to drag on for two years. The Whites, a diverse group of anticommunist forces, were supported by the Allies and held sway over vast portions of land. The Bolsheviks were supported only by the peasants and their own Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, led by Trotsky, but it was enough for them to win.

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