World History 1917 Part 1

About the history of the world in 1917, the revolution breaks out in Russia, the first Pulitzer Prizes are awarded.

TWO CENTURIES OF WORLD HISTORY: 1778-1978

1917

* Czarist Russia, reeling under the blows of world war, near-famine conditions, popular discontent, palace intrigue, and a shattered economy, collapsed in revolution. The February Revolution (March by Western calendars) began with strikes in Petrograd (formerly St. Petersburg) which the army refused to quell and quickly spread to food riots and mass army desertions. Helpless and in despair, Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra quietly abdicated. A provisional government followed and soon came under the leadership of Aleksandr Kerenski. The struggling regime tried to continue the war against Germany while bringing about real reforms at home. Kerenski pushed all the right democratic buttons. He freed political prisoners and called for free speech, free press, and an end to all forms of discrimination. But Russian needs at this time ran more to the basics--peace and food. For these they turned to the radical Bolsheviks and their leader, 47-year-old Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin. "Peace to the army, land to the peasants, ownership of the factories to the workers" was Lenin's cry as he slipped back into Russia with German help to engineer the Bolshevik Revolution in October (November in the West). With relatively little bloodshed, the Bolsheviks seized key buildings in Petrograd, arrested the cabinet, and so brought down the Kerenski regime. Once in power, Lenin pulled Russia out of W.W. I. Germany was now free to concentrate on the western front. In the upheaval, Russia lost Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Ukraine, and other territories containing nearly all of Russia's iron and coal reserves. Out of the chaos and in the face of impending civil war, Lenin tried to hammer out what he hoped would be the ideal communist state, free of capitalism, private ownership, greed, war, poverty, dissent, and religion. The going was slow.

Apr. 6 The U.S. declared war on the Central Powers.

May Columbia University trustees handed out the first Pulitzer Prizes, annual awards given for excellence in American journalism, letters, and music.

June 26 The first American troop ship steamed into the Bay of Biscay and landed on the west coast of France at St. Nazaire. The Yanks had come.

Nov. The British Foreign Office issued the Balfour Declaration, pledging the Crown's support for the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people," provided that the rights of existing Palestinians were upheld.

Nov. 20 The first tank-dominated battle took place at Cambrai, France. Some 350 British tanks rolled over German defensive positions. Barbed wire, trenches, walls--all fell beneath the caterpillar treads. Although the Germans managed to knock out 65 of the tanks that day, the sight of the advancing metal monsters shook up many front-line German soldiers, some of whom deserted or at least beat a hasty retreat.

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