Russian Revolution

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  • Intro

    Popular discontent against Russia's Tsar had been simmering for years. Finally, in 1917 - with Russia now embroiled in the Great War and food running out - came revolution. After a confused few months following the Tsar's removal, power was seized in a coup by the Bolsheviks, a small but disciplined Communist group led by Vladimir Ulyanov, or 'Lenin' (1870-1924). The army, supported by Western powers, was hostile to them, but in 1921, the Bolsheviks triumphed. They set about revolutionising the country, which became the USSR in 1923.

     

    Peasants took control of private and church land. Factories and private property were taken over; the free market and capitalism were eliminated. Atheism replaced religion by force. It was a time of propaganda, mass festivals, popular education and pro-revolutionary art and music. Lenin's secret police, the Cheka, shot anyone who got in their way. On Lenin's death in 1924, Stalin took over, ruling for the next thirty years with brutality and terror.

     

    This poster of Lenin from c.1918 - 1921 was produced during the civil war. Although religion was abolished in favour of atheism after the revolution, the techniques used by painters of icons (traditional religious images) were used here to make Lenin look almost like a saint.

     

    Shelfmark: Cup.645.a.6, 65

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